Sunday, July 10, 2011
A little harvesting, here and there, despite the chaos
Harvesting bouquets is easy, of course, with the abundance of flowers and greens; sometimes I use a few leaves of the plain green lance-leaved hostas in bouquets. I find this particular hosta rather ordinary as a garden plant, but its medium-to-dark glossy leaves do complement flowers and showier foliage nicely. I also have two kinds of ferns: the common ostrich fern and a more lacy one, probably a type of lady fern (athyrium).
Edible plants include the rhubarb, which I have neglected to pick so far (I think of it, and then I forget! Or, when I remember, it's too hot to cook anyway). I should really pick some to freeze, at least. Conventional wisdom has it that you don't harvest rhubarb after the first of July, but my sister-in-law once gathered several stalks in late summer, shortly after moving and discovering that the garden boasted a robust rhubarb plant. It ended up none the worse for the late harvest, and the rhubarb tasted fine, so I don't think it really matters much. Perhaps plants that are only a few years old need a longer period to recover from early summer harvesting, but that old, established plants can take a season-long harvest.
I planted a large pot with a tomato, which is just doing so-so, and some basil and marigolds and thyme, and next to it another pot with some more thyme and marigolds, and a dill. I also included a couple of parsley plants in my kitchen window baskets, which I can harvest through the window when I want a sprig.
I especially like to use the fresh herbs to make my favorite summer salad dressing—a large dollop of plain yogurt with enough olive oil to thin it to a just-pourable consistency, then chopped fresh herbs and a bit of salt and pepper (I also include some cilantro from the farmers market, but since they sell it in a rather large bunch, I froze most of it and use the frozen herb just like fresh ones). It's delicious on sliced cucumbers, too!