Friday, July 3, 2015

Seed to Table Series-Basil

Welcome to our Summer Series,
Seed to Table.
Every Friday, we'll explore a different crop
that you can grow in your own garden.
Whether you're in mid-harvest, already looking ahead to your fall garden,
 or just thinking about growing your own,
we hope this series inspires you.
We'll begin with planting from seed or seedling,
and end up with a scratch recipe. 


Summer is officially here
and nothing says summer like basil.

This crop loves the heat of summer.
It thrives when the temperatures soar,
and fully embraces every drop of summer rain.


We usually start seeds in the early spring,
when nights are noticeably warmer.
They don't take long to germinate,
usually within a few days, you'll see seedlings popping up.
Any container will do, as they don't mind being transplanted,
but the direct sow method works too.

Basil, like most herbs, needs well-draining soil.
They don't like wet feet,
so it is paramount that they dry out between waterings.
The plants get to be up to 3 feet tall,
gracing the gardener with abundant leaves
and an intoxicating aroma.
Pinching the ends of the newest leaves
encourages further production,
while delaying the plant from going to seed.
Harvesting can occur at any time
 once the first few sets of leaves appear. 


 To ensure future sowings,
the plant can be allowed to bolt, or go to seed, as seen here.
Long stalks will grow up from the center of the plant,
and display dried seed pods that can easily be collected.

The seeds can be kept for planting next season 
and the whole, wonderful cycle starts over again.
Isn't nature a magnificent thing?

Here's one of our favorite recipes
for those boatloads of leaves you'll be harvesting!

(French version of pesto) 
3 cups fresh basil leaves
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
Splash of fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil 
Salt and pepper to taste

 1. In a food processor, mince garlic.

2. Add in basil and cheese and blend. 
Slowly drizzle in olive oil 
while the machine is running. 
Blend until smooth.

3. Squeeze in lemon juice 
and add salt and pepper to taste. 

Join us each Friday for our Summer Series- 
Seed to Table.

 Week One:  Sweet Potatoes

Thursday, July 2, 2015

One Simple Thing-Cleaning Make-Up Brushes

I'm about as low-maintenance a gal as you'll find.
However, I do wear make-up when we run errands about twice a week or on special occasions.
It's important to keep brushes clean.
This not only extends the life of the brush,
but it's better for your skin.

Here's a simple and quick way to get those brushes clean:

1.  Place 1 teaspoon of coconut oil in a ramekin or shallow bowl.
2.  Add one squirt of castille or other gentle soap.
3.  Wet brush with tap water.
4.  Dip brush into soap mixture and rub in a circular motion on your palm.
5.  Rinse until water runs clear.
6.  Repeat if necessary.

After sufficiently cleaning your brushes,
lay them out flat to air dry on a towel.

Depending on how often you use them,
they may need to be cleaned weekly or only once a month.
This method ensures brushes stay clean
and helps keep skin clear.

One Simple Thing

You might enjoy these "One Simple Thing" Posts:
Watermelon Pops 
Bottle Marker 
Think Outside the Box

Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Maple Hill Hop 87

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.* 

We were graced with a good dose of rain yesterday.
Those afternoon storms are appreciated,
as they break up the oppressive heat we've been experiencing.
Our summer crops are few, but we grow what we can.
Here's a garden update.

The leaves on the sweet potato we planted last week are a dark green color.
That's a good sign.
We are letting it sprawl through our recently created Veggie Bed #1.

Two types of heat tolerant lettuce were directly sown
in our shady area.
We are attempting to grow lettuce in the summer,
no small task.
So far, so good.

Here is some of the "Freckles" variety that had been started in seed trays.
Slow growing, but worth the wait if we get some for our table!
This will most likely get transplanted next weekend to a pot.
I want to see if it grows better in a container
or straight in the ground.

What a thrill to see a pigeon pea vine sprouting up.
Although several seeds were sown,
this was the only that has amounted to anything.
We acquired the seeds from someone who came to one of our plant giveaways.

This canary melon was also gifted us by the same couple.
We've never grown either of these two plants,
so it'll be fun to see what happens.
I'm hoping to have enough production to be able to save seeds. 
Here's a little bit about this variety.

Another project has me potting up volunteer crape myrtle seedlings.
With the onset of some much needed rains,
they're holding their own.
They will be listed on Craig's List when they get a bit more size to them.

The gloriosa daisy plants don't need much.
They are quite heat tolerant and do well with the most stringent watering.
The pollinators love 'em!
So much beauty for so little effort.
What a blessing.

The cosmos drink up the rain water.
They are scattered throughout the garden,
adding a pop of color everywhere they dwell.

A small clump of agapanthus graces our backyard bed.
This is an all-time favorite that was brought to my attention by our neighbor,
when we first moved here 10 years ago.
This picture doesn't really do it justice,
but Meems, over at Hoe and Shovel has done a wonderful job of showcasing this beauty.
Her garden blog is extraordinary!

This gorgeous feather grass was given to us 
by my friend KK, who recently moved away.
She will be missed, but part of her will stay with this garden.
The way it sways in the breeze is a sight to behold.

We are still inundated with gulf fritillary caterpillars,
and a record number of chrysalises can be found surrounding our back porch.
Lots of butterflies will soon be hatching!

 The rain was a welcome visitor.
Everything is renewed, refreshed
and cooled off, if only for a short time.
We'll take any cooldown we can get!

What's happening where you are?
HOP on!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Seed to Table Series-Sweet Potatoes

Welcome to our Summer Series,
Seed to Table.
Every Friday, we'll explore a different crop
that you can grow in your own garden.
Whether you're in mid-harvest, already looking ahead to your fall garden,
 or just thinking about growing your own,
we hope this series inspires you.
We'll begin with planting from seed or seedling,
and end up with a scratch recipe. 


We begin the series with sweet potatoes.
It's one of the only crops that will thrive in our summer heat.

It starts here.
All that is required is to place a sweet potato
into water until sprouts form at the bottom.
It's called a sweet potato slip.
We used small nails to prop the spud out of the water,
but toothpicks, chopsticks, or wire will do just as well.  


After a few days, white roots will emerge from the bottom.
A few more days will pass before you see 
the leaves start to sprout right out of the top.
It doesn't get much easier than that, folks. 

When the leaves are abundant,
transplant it to the garden.
It will take off and sprawl,
so give it space or use a trellis to support the vine.

The light purple (almost pink) blooms are an added bonus!
When the leaves begin to turn yellow,
they are ready for harvest.
Dig them up, compost the leaves
and cure the potatoes for about 10 days.
This simply means leaving them out to dry in a warm place
(but not in direct sunlight).
This enables them to develop their sweetness.

Eating a variety of colors is a sure way to
add health and vitality to your life.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with calcium, potassium and
the A and C vitamins.
Something so delicious and good for you too?
Who could ask for more.

We hope you'll add this easy-to-grow crop
to your garden.
Join us each Friday for our Summer Series- 
Seed to Table.

Here's one way we enjoy these sweet delights:

Sweet Potato Fries

3 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
olive oil

Lay the potatoes on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
Add oil and seasonings to lightly coat.
Bake at 425 degrees for 12 minutes,
turn and continue baking 8-10 minutes.

Quick Announcement!
The premier issue of Modern Farmstead magazine is out today.
This is the brainchild of my friend, Staci,
over at Life at Cobble Hill Farm.
I hope you enjoy my article on simplifying,
as well as the contributions of some talented bloggers.
You can find it here.

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