Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Gardening in Maine

Basil: Herb of the Year 2003Although I no longer have time for a serious garden, this year I did add a few herbs to my landlords' raised beds. Mostly basil (2 kinds) and lettuce, but also a few other things like cantaloupe, an early-harvest watermelon, and 9 tomato plants which will soon have us all eating tomatoes on a daily basis. They have loved all the rain, and are absolutely huge.

The ruby-red lettuce is still growing at a speed that allows us all to help ourselves nearly daily, and the good news is that it hasn't bolted yet. It makes the prettiest salads! My French sorrel keeps bolting, and I don't yet have enough to make my favorite sorrel and smoked sausage soup. The Italian basil has gone nuts is growing well, and the Blue African basil has gone nuts - it's the size of a small bush. This particular basil is okay, but I'm not enjoying the taste as much, and probably won't plant it again next year. I'll probably just use it in a pesto.

When I pick basil, I often put it in a glass on my counter with about an inch of water in the bottom. It'll stay fresh and ready to use for several days. The current supply was on my counter last night, and I decided to use it for a stir fry. BUT - when I pulled it out of the glass, I noticed it had already started rooting!!! Maybe I'd better use my basil more often - if it's able to root, it's not being used frequently enough.

Guess I'll plant it - there were 2 bunches rooting!! - and give it away as a new plant to friends. There's still lots more in the garden, enough to make batches and batches of pesto. How perfect for a hot summer night's dinner appetizer!

Soon the blackberries will be ready, and jam is on the agenda. These big sweet berries are so dense on their vines, on their vinets. Last year Dan and Miriam sold quite a few quarts of them in the antiques shop here. They never lasted more than a few hours after picking - blackberries aren't easy to find around here, and they sold quickly.

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