Herbs With Friends: Urban Gardening Comes To A Close

Yesterday, I ventured into the backyard to start cleaning it up for the late fall and early winter season that is fast approaching.  I mowed the yard to mulch what leaves had fallen.  I also cleaned out one of the flowerbeds, cutting back the yellowing hosta, the wilting irises, and aging lambs ear.

About the only thing we don’t cut back is the tall pampas grass – first, it’s much easier to cut it back when it’s completely dead and dry at the end of winter. It also has a nice brown look to it in winter and gives the beds height.  And it always comes back, so we just leave it.  Everything else gets trimmed back to prevent mold and diseases from settling in during winter, and it’s easier to clean and cut back now and gives us a fresh new start next spring.

I had fun shooting pictures with my new cellphone via Instagram yesterday too.  Here’s the pineapple sage in full bloom, the main reason why we bought ten plants of it this year.  The taste is okay, but we bought it for the look.  The tiny red flowers are the only thing blooming in the yard right now, so it gives the yard some great color right now when everything else is dying away.

pineapple sage in full bloom

Actually, I discovered the pineapple sage is not the only thing blooming right now.  I always buy mums for the porch and last year (2011) was the first time I ever kept them and planted them in the ground.  They did come up slowly in the spring, but didn’t amount to much.  To my surprise, one of them had actually bloomed recently.  It’s so small and hidden by the brick border of the bed, and by fallen leaves, that I almost missed it. This encouraged me to definitely plant the mums I have now on the porch – I was almost going to toss them.

last year’s mums

J also clipped back the rest of the herbs. As you might remember, this was definitely the year of the herb for us.  We built an herb garden, made herb vinegars, used fresh herbs for cooking, and I even made an herb wreath for the front door.  Here’s what J brought in yesterday…

sage, parsley, and mint…oh my!

Without some proper planning, it’s almost impossible to prepare for this many herbs. But I was determined not to let them go to waste. Luckily, I had plenty of vinegar on the shelf so I quickly made a large batch of lavender vinegar we can use for cleaning.  I also made a jar of sage vinegar which will be good with salad or pork.  Next, I processed the parsley with water in our mini-chopper to make a soupy pulp for freezing. We filled two ice trays with it. Now, when we want a hint of parsley in a soup or other meal, we just take out a cube of it and pop it in the pot. I wish we’d had some basil left to do this!

J decided to wrap up some of the fresh sage and lavender to take to work today to share with his coworkers and friends.  That helped get rid of a bunch!  We hung some of the sage up to use for this year’s Thanksgiving meal. As for the rest?  We hung it in the window to make the kitchen smell nice.  We also like the look of it in the window, a last minute idea that we plan to do more often next year to utilize the harvest.

lavender and mint in the window

Next week, I’ll plant the mums we still have on the porch from this season.  I’ll also add the pumpkins to my compost heap. There’s more flower beds to clean out and more yellowing plants to cut back. And then this urban gardener’s season will be done.

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