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Editorials

Drying Herbs and Planting Garlic

by Mireille Bourgeois

Ok, so there’s no real story or trick here, this is basically just a reminder not forget to harvest your herbs before cold weather claims them! Also, not to forget that October is PLANT GARLIC MONTH! This is a great day to clean up my garden beds, clear out the dead plants and put some winter goods in the ground. (I’m doing kale and winter greens tomorrow.) I love gardening, this will be my third year, and my first time attempting winter gardening. I’ll be referencing Niki Jabbour‘s book “Year-Round Gardener” a LOT.

Today I harvested my parsley, summer savoury and lemon thyme today. Once this huge bowl of thyme is dried and gently flaked into a jar, it will last me over a year in my cupboard. I’m just now finishing up my batch from last summer (it’s October now!). To harvest your herbs, simply cut them at the bottom of the stem, gently shake off any remaining dirt, (I blow on them a bit to get the fine dust off), cut off long stems and place them in your food dehydrator on a low heat setting for about 4-5 hours until the herbs are crumbly. You can also dry them in your oven for a few hours on a REALLY low setting (125F) or tying them in a bunch and hanging in a dark dry place for a week or so. I don’t wash my herbs before drying them, I find it makes them stick together and not dry well. Okay, I lied, here are some herb drying tips: http://www.gardenherbs.org/preserving_herbs.htm.

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Two weeks ago I did up some beautiful spearmint and Lemon Balm that I’ll use for my own tea blends and gifts over the holidays.

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Now on to your garlic! I bought some organic garlic that I planted in my large garden bed, and also decided to experiment with using a few wild garlic cloves I had in my kitchen in my filling cabinet garden planter. For garlic, all you need to do is gently separate the garlic cloves, leaving the skin on them. Then dig a 2-3inch deep hole and place the cloves in (pointy tip UP). Cover with soil, pat down gently and then cover with organic mulch or leaves (I’m waiting for the leaves to fall off the trees ;).

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Niki Jabbour recommends using only the biggest cloves for planting as they will grow the largest bulbs. She says you can still plant the smallest garlic cloves, but to plant them in a bunch and use the garlic greens/scapes for salads, etc. The garlic will be ready to harvest next July/August, once the shoot begin to die off.

To harvest your garlic, you’ll want to gently remove them from the soil, shake off excess dirt, space them out on newspaper to cure for two weeks, or hang them in bundles. The trick is to make sure there is proper airflow around the whole bulb. Them your can store them in a cool dry place.

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If I sound like I know what I’m talking about, it’s in theory only! I’ve been reading about it, but this will be my first time growing garlic, and I’m SUPER excited.

Have fun!

 

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