By Joe Cowan
Director of Operations
One of the first things to be finished in our garden will be our herb and rose garden. Created from the existing rock garden beds surrounding our patio, it will have sage, thyme, rosemary, summer savory, oregano — to name just a few herbs — as well as five large rose bushes. The beautiful pink and yellow lilies will remain. We got a good start on it this past weekend, unperturbed by the requirement to dig up some old shrubs and their roots. With only a Saturday morning on the balance sheet, we were able to jumpstart a lovely little space that will meet our desire for beauty and form, as well as expand our culinary repertoire.
Herbs adorn so many dishes that this was a natural place for us to start in the garden. We recently started grinding our own sausage and ground beef, and the addition of some freshly chopped sage or rosemary leaves provides so much character. Adding fresh herbs often means you can cut down on salt and pepper, which, when overdone, can leave your dish vaguely unsatisfying.
Herbs should be picked when fragrant; if you want to save some for later, tie them into small bundles and hang to dry upside down, away from direct sunlight. Pulling out a small bundle of rosemary that was properly dried and stored in an extra Miron jar will enhance your suppers with the smell of summer for months to come. Often the easiest plants to grow, herbs provide the biggest reward from the smallest investment. So, if the idea of installing perfectly raised beds with the correct pH balance and organic compost, etc., is a little daunting, start here. You will have a bounty the first year and perhaps enough to save for the depths of winter.
If you look around your local farmers market, you will almost certainly see large heads of cabbage. If your favorite organic farm doesn’t already sell them, buy whatever medley of root vegetables they have, and use those instead. Homemade sauerkraut, kimchi or fermented root vegetables are a treat, and with refrigeration can last well into fall and beyond.
For this project, a special piece of equipment that I use, and you should as well, comes in very handy: a fermentation crock.