I love all the flowers on my porch this summer. These here are cosmos Rubenza and Bright Lights. I will definitely move to exclusively herbs and flowers next year. Almost there: For vegetables, I currently only have one Thai pepper and some chard and lettuce growing on my back porch. None of them are doing particularly well. Next year, I will do only spring vegetables (radishes and salad greens) and then only herbs and flowers in the summer and fall.
I decided to experiment with preserving more of my herbs this year. I always have been making the base for basil pesto by simply chopping freshly harvested basil with olive oil and freezing it in ice cube trays. I sometimes add kale or arugula to the mix. This basil “pesto” is then used throughout the year in pasta dishes, on pizza or focaccia, and for chicken, fish, roasted vegetables and other dishes. I find that leaving out the nuts, cheese and garlic makes it more versatile, and I can always add those later.
I also have been making Thai basil pesto (with sesame oil, rice vinegar and peanuts), but I have always used it fresh or kept it in the fridge for a few days. I just made my first batch this week to use for these crispy pork noodle bowls. So good! I always use a different recipe for the pesto though. This year, I am planning to experiment with freezing Thai basil in a similar way as my regular basil, so I can make fresh Thai basil pesto throughout the colder months. I have five plants in a big container on my porch and expect to get several harvests out of them.
This year, I am trying to find ways to preserve my parsley. I have two huge plants on my porch and one in my plot. Parsley is probably the herb I used the most in the kitchen, from Moroccan meatballs to fish dishes to soups to simple garnishes. I harvested a big handful, washed it and chopped it up in a food processor. I then froze it with a bit of water in ice cube trays and later moved the cubes to a ziplock bag. This first batch turned out quite crumbly, so next time, I will add more water and even freeze some of the parsley in olive oil.
A couple of weeks ago I purchased some lemongrass at Whole Foods. There were four stalks in the package, but only two of them still had some of the stem intact. It was completely cut off at the other two. I placed the stalks that had stems in water and watched them develop nice roots. They also started to sprout new leaves. Yesterday I planted them (about an inch deep) in a container on my back porch. Lemongrass likes it hot and moist. The weather has been pretty cold these past days, but I am sure that will change. I am looking forward to see how this experiment will turn out.
Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours in the garden weeding and planting. We have water in the garden now and it was time to transplant my four kale seedlings, six head lettuce seedlings, Swiss chard and leeks. I covered the lettuces and kale with row cover hoping it will deter the rabbits or other interested creatures. I also purchased three flat parsley plants, one spilanthes, one Orient Express eggplant, camomile, and a six-pack of marigolds from the Neighborhood Farm stand at the Wake up the Earth festival. I planted the spilanthes and one parsley in the plot and also sowed some cilantro next to the Swiss chard. I ripped out some mint and put it in a pot on my back porch. I planted two parsley plants and the camomile in containers on my porch. The marigold and eggplant will be transplanted into the plot together with the tomatoes and peppers at the end of May when I return from my travels.
My tomato and basil seedlings have been living on my kitchen table for the past few weeks. I rotate the tray so they grow evenly. The tomatoes are getting a bit leggy, but everything looks good. I have 9 tomatoes, 4 regular basil and 2 Thai basil cells.
I have a few of the seedlings outside on the back porch now to harden. I will transplant them into my plot in the next couple of days. We still don’t have water in the community garden, so I want to wait until it is turned on. I have a bunch of leeks and Swiss Chard, 4 kale plants and 8 head lettuces. I will transplant some of the head lettuce into containers on my porch and the rest will go into the community plot.
Today, I started my cucumbers and squash. Each in triplet, I planted two pots Tokiwa, three plots pickling cucumber and two pots Mexican sour gherkins (cucamelons). I also planted one pot of Delicata squash (I sadly only had three seeds left), two each Butternut and Honeynut, and one zucchini.
Today I re-potted my tomato plants (9 out of 12, two did not come up and one needs a bit more care under the grow lights), my six basil cells and my two Thai basil cells and four kale plants. The tomatoes are looking really strong and big – I might have started them a bit too early. Until I can set them out to harden, they will live inside on my kitchen table.
I just got a new LED grow light as my old fluorescent one died after exactly ten years. Under it, I have my 8 lettuce seedlings, 3 eggplants , 2 Thai peppers and a tomato. Plus the leeks and Swiss chard until I sort those out.
Today, I did my first outdoor sowing of the year. I sowed radishes in a big container on my porch. I also started lettuce indoors, four each of Black Seeded Simpson, May Queen and Merlot. All head lettuces. I was going to sow peas and spinach in the plot today, but I will wait until a bit later in the week as there is rain in the forecast in a few days. I also bought organic fertilizer, as I have to amend the soil in my plot, which I will do before my first sowing.
Today, I started my tomato seedlings. Somewhat earlier than in previous years as I typically starte them around March 20. I started two each of the following six varieties: Ailsa Craig (early), Black Prince (mid), Striped German (mid), Green Zebra (mid/late), Dr. Wyche Yellow (mid/late), Ananas Noire (late). Some of the seeds are quite old, so fingers crossed they will sprout. The Ailsa Craig seeds were a gift from Sand Hill Preservation Center. I read that they are an English Heirloom variety, which originates from the Scottish island with the same name. I am excited. I also started eggplant seeds I got as a gift in my seed order. Udmalbet is an early variety from India. And I started Swiss Chard.