Friday, September 7, 2012

Lessons in Gardening and Culinary Herbs

In my recent post about the Margarita Shrimp Scampi, I listed one of the ingredients as lemon balm, which was wrong.  I used lemon verbena!  (I've changed the post).  I still get these two herbs mixed up, but no longer.  I did my research and I'm happy to say that if you made the scampi already with lemon balm you weren't too far off from the flavor.  Verbena and balm are similar in fragrance and flavor.  Verbena is not as hardy and thrives in climate zone 9 and I'm in zone 4-5.   Needless to say, my lemon verbena plant will be coming indoors for the Winter.  At least I'll give it a try.  Hopefully, it's compatible with "chewy the indoor cat".

After doing the research, I yearn, once again, for a place in the Mediterranean.  The lemon verbena plant is a perennial (comes back every year) and actually grows to almost 10 feet in those sun drenched areas!  I realize that's not too exciting for some of you, but it's enough to float my gondola!

So, how does my garden grow this season?  Not well!  On a positive note my cherry tomatoes were abundant, while my early girl tomatoes were a delicacy for the rabbits.  The quail didn't let a little fencing get in their way.  They joined right in to harvest what they could.  The arugula was plentiful as was the spinach.  The zucchini is slowly producing.  My mantra when it comes to the garden in these parts is, "There's always next year".

abundant cherry tomatoes

Quail...helping themselves

I learned quite a bit, as I do every year, unfortunately by trial and error.  My prized tomatillo with tons of blossoms was severely yanked from the ground after I read that I should have bought two or more for pollination.  A horticulturist, I'm not.  And the Japanese eggplants that showed some promise,   shriveled up and were shadowed by the giant early girl tomato plant.   The beets were eaten, not by humans, and the mint was lackluster!   I'll get this right!  I already have "BIG" plans for next year's garden lineup.

Ricotta stuffed zucchini blossoms

On the subject of food, I've had numerous salads with arugula and spinach, zucchini blossoms, stuffed with ricotta cheese or scrambled into eggs.  I even made a chocolate zucchini cake the other day.  So, while I may sound ungrateful for a not so good growing season,  I'm thankful that I had what mother nature tried her best to provide, sunny beautiful weather.   And besides, "I BUILT MY GARDEN" myself" and it gives me great pleasure to start something from seed, nurture and watch it grow to help feed my family.  Hope your harvest is bountiful!

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