This is a bit of a misnomer. I have an herb garden but it’s for both medicinals and culinary herbs. Someday, I’ll probably separate them but for now, one is enough. I made a huge mistake last year and stuck some strawberries in my herb garden. Those little buggers spread like crazy and I spent a week digging them up and giving a way and transplanting hundreds of plants. I still have to pull up the occasional hanger-on but I have, for the most part a clean slate again. I have already gotten a lot of starts in the greenhouse but I need to do a run to the Hadley Garden Center. They have a good herbal section. I plan to go with my trusty guide (I’m bring Rosemary Gladstar’s Family Herbal) as I’m no expert at this stuff. I should probably just bring my friend, Sara, who is. She’s been helping me figure out what I need right along.
The asparagus is doing great. We have been spreading seed on the empty end of this bed for a few years and it’s finally filled in. I’m not harvesting those plants. I’m hoping that leaving these long, skinny stalks alone will send the nourishment to the roots and give me heathy, edible stalks in a couple of years. The rest of the bed is giving me a harvest every day or two. We’ve been eating fresh but I want to preserve some too. I have tried freezing it with so-so results. I steam blanched some and froze it in food saver vacuum bags and got edible results but the bags are not reusable so I have decided to dehydrate all of my excess. I did a batch yesterday. I cut off the heads, then chopped the stalks into rounds, steamed blenched them and dehydrated at 125 degrees. In this wet it took 10 hours to get them crispy. I then powdered the stems and vacuum sealed the the whole thing. A big mess of asparagus dried down to a about 1/4 a cup. I popped this in a jelly jar and vacuum sealed it. I will rehydrate the asparagus in hot chicken broth and simmer with some cream added at the last minute. This will taste mighty good in January.
Nettle is next on the list to dry. I love nettle soup. Bruce just brought me home a new pair of garden gloves. I’m planning to put together a little sack with my snippers and gloves and digging trowel and hanging it by the door so I can do a grab and go when the mood strikes.
I have no illusions that the greens and gathered food will feed me during a time when the supermarkets are closed but I do believe that the healing herbs and the tasty, gathered greens can add variety and nutrition to an otherwise bland diet. You can live on rice and beans and canned peas but why would you when there are such great, free and abundant options out there.