Monday, September 29, 2014

Cilantro Resurrected

Cilantro is an herb that only grows during cool weather here in Oklahoma (spring and fall).  When the weather begins to get hot (in early June), then cilantro starts flowering and making seeds for the next generation.

This is what my cilantro looked like on June 2 this past summer.

The flowers turn into little "berries", like these.

When these berries ripen, they dry and become the seed of the plant.

The seed are the spice we call Coriander.  I harvested some of these for use this winter. 

However, I left quite a few and allowed them to fall to the soil where I hoped they would sprout when the weather became cooler.

Today, I noticed I have a whole new crop of cilantro that has begun to grow from these seed.  

I see some cilantro-lime rice and fresh salsa in my future! 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Preserving Garden Goodness - Drying Cayenne Peppers

Cayenne peppers, like most peppers, turn red when they are ripe.   Some peppers, like bell peppers, we eat while they are still green.  And, salsa is usually made with green jalapeno peppers.  Speaking of jalapeno peppers, last year I pickled jalapeno peppers.  

This year, I have quite a few ripe cayenne peppers which I want to preserve.   

One way to preserve them is to dry them.  All that is needed is a large sewing needle and some fishing line.

The first step is to thread the needle with the fishing line and stick it through the cap of one of the peppers.

Next, wrap the fishing line around the cap and tie it in a knot.

Stringing peppers on the fishing line, like this.

Continue in this manner until you have a string of peppers the desired length.  It is best not to make it too long. 

For the time being, I just hung these peppers from a cabinet door handle, but I need to find a better place for them where they are out of the way.  A broom handle laid across 2 chair backs in an unused bedroom would work as a pepper drying apparatus.  Anywhere out of the way where there is plenty of air flow around the peppers would be fine.  Even outside in a sheltered area would work.  Just make sure the peppers are safe from freezing.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dear Deer

Our local deer have been a blessing and a curse to us this past month.  They have been a curse in that they have eaten much of the garden.  They have eaten our black-eyed peas down to about a foot tall. 

Here's a closeup view of how the plants look.

They have eaten our okra in much the same manner.

And, they have eaten all except one plant in a small patch of sweet potatoes that I planted in a raised bed.  No idea why they left the one plant.  Maybe something scared them off.  Or, maybe they just got full and will come back to finish this plant off next week.

However, I harbor no animosity toward them because the garden is tired and so are we.   The tomatoes are on their last legs and the weeds have gotten ahead of us.  So, the deer have given us an excuse to drop out of the farmers' market for a few weeks while we regroup, get some much needed rest and prepare for a fall garden.  That is where the blessing is.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Little Bluestem

We have 5 acres, but only use about a fourth of it for our gardening activities.  The rest of it, that which is not taken up by a few large trees, our house and outbuildings, is open grassland.  I like to call this part our "wildflower meadow" because in the spring there are a lot of wildflowers out there.  A couple of years ago, I wrote an entry about some of these.

As mentioned in the above blog entry, we only mow these grassy areas a couple of times a year.  During the middle to late part of the summer, the wildflowers are gone and many of the spring grasses have died  At that time, it becomes rather unsightly and it is time to mow.  I've suggested getting some goats and letting them mow for us, but Tom has not taken the bait so far.  

Anyhow, this year we divide up the mowing duties.  Tom mowed the large open area to the west of the house and I mowed the area between the house and the road.  As I was mowing, I noticed some tall clumps of bluish colored grasses that I decided to leave.  I just liked the way they looked.

Tom told me these grasses were Little Bluestem.  Having now done some quick Google searches on this grass, here's what I have found.  It is a native grass to North America.  It is a perennial bunch grass and is one of the prominent grasses in the Tall Grass Prairie, an ecosystem native to central North America.  

Little Bluestem grows to a typical height of 3 feet.  It is called "bluestem" because, in the spring, it has a bluish hue.  Even though it is currently late summer,  I found this one clump that still has this blue coloring.

Most of the grass is turning tan, like this.

 The seeds are tiny.  They form on the top 6 inches or so of the stem.

I hope that, by leaving the clumps of Little Bluestem when I mowed, they will produce lots of seed that will germinate next spring and produce more clumps of this pretty grass for me to mow around.