Harvesting & overview of Summer succeses or not!
I always feel very rich as I stand in my gardens. In any season, any weather ~ my garden bank account never runs out! This feeling of wealth is never stronger than in Autumn when truly there is an amazing waiting abundance … Though not necessarily the crop I envisioned or “planned” in Spring. But then I am never truly in charge of Mother Nature’s whims and gifts …
This year’s round of unexpected gardening wealth was Summer Savory. This annual herb is very popular in the Prairies and “back East”. I suspect it likes the warmer nights there and touch of humidity and can seriously sulk here and generally wimp out. I optimistically planted a row of three dozen starts, determined to grow enough for a particular regular chef. Well, either his menu changed, or his sous chef left; and suddenly I had billowing clouds of the stuff with tiny bright mauve blooms. A new volunteer originally from northern Germany, Beatrice, lovingly hung bundle after bundle in the drying shed and labelled it “Bohnenkraut” … “Bean Herb”. Wish my green beans had been as abundant this season but it was great in my Thanksgiving dinner! And I am thankful for these surprise abundances that also open the door to fresh inspirations … The Summer Savory was also a joy for the bees and butterflies.
I trust you found as I did, that Sweet Basil was slow to start, then abundant in August, with a quick demise with the early September rains ... a fleeting guest in the garden this year.
Sage is my beauty now. As I write, a fresh frilled Sage wreath adorns my Thanksgiving table. It will nicely dry and change from a bouquet for the eyes for one for the tummy comes the Christmas season. Here’s the scoop ~
… Simply give your Sage bush a hard trim. Take at least one third of the “greens” to one half of the overall bulk of the bush, always looking for small as yet undeveloped leaf nodes that will flush out next Spring. Don’t wait too long to do this, the next couple of weeks is best before further rains turn the foliage from beautiful and vibrant to winter forlorn and ragged looking. If you wait until December, only the tips will look tasty and your wreath will look very sparse “Charlie Brown” style … The longer the full leaved tips, the fuller your wreath will look “Martha Stewart” style!
Use a 5”-6” base for a table centerpiece with a candle, 8”-10” for a wreath to grace your kitchen wall. Use a spool of thin ribbon say 1/4”; any colour will do as it will not show on completion. Secure the beginning end at any point around the girth of one side on the wreath, you can decide up/down later …
Lay 3 or 4 sage sprigs across the wreath circle and wrap in place. Keep the tension on the ribbon with one hand and lay another 3 sprigs over lapping the ribbon section of the first three sprigs and wrap these in succession. Continue in one direction following the wreath ring around, tucking the last three stems under the tops of the very first three and tie off your ribbon.
This wireless wrap is easy on the hands, no blood compared to using wire and a simple cut to the ribbon on the reverse releases all the foliage and you can reuse the base at another time.
Meanwhile, sit your finished centerpiece to dry flat on the table and enjoy OR place your larger wreath on a upside down bowl on a table to half dry before hanging so gravity doesn’t distort the perfect spiral of leaves …
There: a tasty Christmas dinner next AND a tidy Sage bush for next season! You can also dry any good leaves you pinched off as you tidied the wreath sprigs and eat those later too. If you have a few complete sturdy sprigs left over try your green thumb; push a chopstick in your ground outside to make a planting hole, tuck the Sage sprig in, firming the soil around the stem and you just may propagate a brand new Sage brush as a bonus. Replace any tatty Sage bushes when they get 5 or 6 years old …
I love the “Berggarten” variety with its large oval leaves or the “Purple” sage for its colour: it tastes good too! This year’s Sage wreath was the decorative variegated one … In the language of flowers, Sage stands for “Wisdom” and I don’t know about you but I am always open for more wisdom myself.
Take a last look around your Herbs; harvest any quality Oregano, Lovage, Tarragon, cutting 3” from the ground as they all regenerate from underneath. Be a little gentler with your evergreen Thymes and Rosemary as they only tip grow. My Basil was in the freezer by early September in the cold valley here: do eat all of yours ASAP if you are fortunate to still have a protected growing stash.
Meanwhile, copy those savvy scurrying squirrels; be focused on getting your gardens abundance stored away safely before the weather clock ticks your harvest “thyme” away ... very bad pun.
Myself: those brief seconds of dismay after the first hard frost will soon turn into a cosy read by the woodstove planning Spring 2011, the abundance of 2010 gracing my home, my table and my heart.
Originally published in the November 2010 edition of the Metchosin Muse