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Friday PhotoEssay – Thyme Edition

I thought we would take a through the Thyme garden, since it has all been growing really well. There aren’t any noticeable differences in how the different varieties have done as far as growth, but there are clear differences between the varieties.

The Lime Thyme is on the corner and is a little more prostrate than some of the others. It is also that bright green “lime” color and has a nice citrusy scent and flavor.

The French thyme is much more upright and has a silvery color, especially to the older growth. The interior of the plant has started to get woody already. This one has your traditional thyme scent and flavor.

The Summer thyme is a little more green than the French thyme, but it is still very upright and vigorous. I believe this one is supposed to be a little less hardy, so we will have to watch it to see if it comes back next year.

This is the plain Lemon thyme (as compared to the variegated lemon thyme). It is also very vigorous and fairly upright in growth habit. You can see a few of the new shoots have some lighter yellow coloration, even though it isn’t a variegated variety. It has an excellent lemon scent and flavor.

The Rose Scented thyme has a dusty grey-green color and the leaves seems to be a little thicker and fleshier than some of the other varieties. It is also a little more prostrate than some of the varieties, but not a super low-growing “walkable” variety. It definitely has a faint floral or rose scent on top of the thyme scent.

The Spicy Orange thyme is a very prostrate variety and clearly has a very different appearance from the Rose Scented (right) and Variegated Lemon (left). The plant has a strong spicy orange scent (very aptly named!) and feels a little bit…almost succulent? Like a sedum? I’m sure it would be fine to cook with, but the texture seems a little strange. It is holding its own against its taller neighbors though.

Mmm…Variegated Lemon thyme… It’s both pretty and lemony! Sometimes the variegated thymes are little bit wimpy, but this one seems to be in good shape. The rainy summer probably helped it out.

The Nutmeg Thyme has the cutest, tiniest leaves and a very delicate appearance. Whether it has any actual nutmeg scent or flavor…well…let me know if you can tell, will you? It obviously has gotten overgrown by its larger neighbors a bit too.

The English thyme is looking good and is again more upright. It doesn’t seem to have gotten as gangly and woody as the French and Summer thymes.

Last, in the opposite corner, is the Mint thyme. Like the Nutmeg thyme it has very small, delicate leaves and stems. It seems to be a little more vigorous though. It also has a somewhat stronger hint of mint scent and flavor. I’m not sure I would figure out what it was based solely on the scent or flavor, but at least there’s a little bit of something there.

Have a great weekend!

Friday PhotoEssay

I almost forgot to put together a post today! I don’t know if I forgot it was Friday or just had too many other things going on.

The crazy tomato trellis, the sweet potatoes, and the sunflowers continue to hog the foreground of this view of the garden, although there’s a lot going on from the other side too. From a distance, everything is still looking great, although as you get closer things look a little more tired. I suspect that by a month from now, things will have changed drastically.

As you can see, the broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are growing really well, as are the parsnips. The tomatoes and eggplant still look crazy, but they are definitely slowing down.

The turnips and fall radishes that we planted on Tuesday are already coming up! That’s a good sign. The beets, carrots, and spinach we should expect to be a little bit slower, but hopefully there will be some seedlings by next Friday.

After a couple weeks of only a few ripe tomatoes here and there, we suddenly have a whole bunch of ripe tomatoes again. I’m very impressed with the ‘Limmony’ heirloom. It had several ripe tomatoes on it this week, and there are virtually no cracks on them.

In contrast, the ‘Bella Rosa’ tomato has a lot of fruit set, nice large fruit, but such ghastly cracks that the tomatoes are virtually rotten before you pick them. As bad as some of those cracks are, even if we picked the fruit at the pink stage it would still be rotten by the time we wanted to use it.

The thyme garden is looking stupendous at this point. There are some very interesting differences in color, height/growth habit, and size of leaves. I just hope that the taller ones don’t completely choke out the shorter ones. The bright green variety in the front is the ‘Lime’ thyme. The thyme is so nice, we’ve been contemplating adding it to the docket for Saturday Sampler next month.

I was trying to get a picture of one of the cabbageworm moths flitting around, but ended up just getting this picture of the ‘Deadon’ cabbage. I know it’s not a very inspiring name, but the plants look great! This is the cabbage that is supposed to be red-green with savoy leaves. You can just see the faint hint of red right now. With the moths already flying around, we will be trying to be very proactive to keep the munching caterpillar hordes at bay.

The ‘Aztec Sun’ Tithonia in the Kids’ Snack Garden (this one isn’t a true sunflower) is blooming and looking great right now, although the plants are tall enough that we don’t see the flowers quite as well.

Have a great weekend!

Marinated Mozzarella Cubes

This recipe takes cheese and snacking to a whole new level. I have made this numerous times and each time it has had rave reviews. Great for summer parties and events. Did I also mention that it was the bomb at Herb Day!
marinated cheese photo

(serves 16)

1 lb mozzarella cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 jar (7oz) roasted red peppers, drained and cut into bite-size pieces
6 fresh thyme sprigs
2 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/4 cups olive oil
2 Tbsps minced fresh rosemary
2 tsps Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Bread or crackers

1. In a quart jar with a tight-fitting lid, layer a third of the cheese, peppers, thyme and
garlic. Repeat layers twice.
2. In a small bowl, whisk the oil rosemary, Italian seasoning and pepper flakes. Pour into
jar; seal and turn upside down. Refrigerate overnight, turning several times. Serve
with bread or crackers. Yield: 4 cups.

Nutrition Facts:
1 serving without bread or crackers
Fat—10g, Cholesterol—22mg
Sodium—224mg, Carbohydrate—1g
Fiber—trace, Protein—6g

Planting Day 1!

We finally got to plant our poor tomatoes! We had originally planned for them to be planted on April 23rd, so they have just been hanging out for the last 2 weeks. This is the last time that I try planting tomatoes early. Or something like that.

We planted the tomatoes and herbs in the Pizza Garden. The open area is for a couple peppers.

The tomato & basil garden. We are using cages this year, hence the double row of plants. We have 3 determinates (more compact vines) and 3 interdeterminates (crazy giant vines) of both red and yellow tomato varieties. We also have a wide range of days to maturity, from about 60 to more than 80 days.

We also planted our thyme garden and the rest of the herbs that will be in containers this year. I’m excited to see how the different thymes grow and fill in the front of the grape area.

Our two new entry beds were planted with some annual flowers, and we’ll be planting containers next week.

We also harvested the remaining radishes of two varieties from our radish & parsnip planting. The ‘French Breakfast’ radishes were much bigger than a week ago, and the ‘Cherry Belles’ were all ready to harvest as well. The silly ‘White Icicle’ radishes are still taking their sweet time.

Next week we hope to be planting eggplant, peppers, basil, and probably some seeds for some of our vine crops. After a slow spring, the garden is off and growing!

2013 Garden Plans: Herbs

This picture is from a couple years ago before the renovation. This mature thyme plant was in full bloom! I miss the herb garden area, so I’m excited that we are going to have some mass plantings of herbs in a few different locations this year.

As I wrote in an earlier post, a section of Bed 1 will be basils. (The rest is tomatoes.) We will also be planting thyme as an under-planting in Bed 7, where our grape trellis will be. The grape will start small, so the thyme will take up the rest of the space to start with. We still have a bunch of perennial herbs in Bed 8, and then we are also going to do the big Smart Pot and a few smaller pots with herbs this summer.

Bed 1: Basils

  • Thai Siam Queen
  • Red Genovese
  • Minimum
  • Corsican
  • Red Large Leaf Lettuce
  • Pistou

Each of the 4′ square areas will have 3 varieties. The Thai and Corsican basils will be in the center. Then the two red basils will be planted around them. (Interestingly, we found 3 or 4 different catalogs advertising the “New” red Genovese basil, but each one had a different name for it. Same picture though…) Then the Minimum and Pistou basils will be along the edges. The ‘Minimum’ variety is supposed to have a more trailing habit, like thyme. That should be a different look for a basil!

Bed 7: Thymes

  • English
  • French
  • Caraway
  • Summer
  • Spicy Orange
  • Lemon
  • Variegated Lemon
  • Rose-Scented
  • Nutmeg

We will be planting a grape at some point in the little triangular bed, once the trellis is in place. However, it won’t be using much space to start with, so we are going to have some thyme planted underneath and around the grape. A number of the varieties are your usual suspects – English, French, Lemon, Summer. The ‘Spicy Orange’ will be something a little different. (Usually we end up with the ‘Orange Balsam’ variety.) We also have 3 fairly unique varieties – Caraway, Nutmeg, and Rose-Scented. Basically, these are all thymes that have a strong scent or flavor of another herb or spice rather than just a variation on the regular thyme scent and flavor. It should be fun to have all of them in the garden!

Other Herbs for Containers:

  • Sweet Aztec
  • ‘Candy’ Stevia
  • Ginger Mint
  • Tri-color Sage
  • Pineapple Sage
  • Lemon Verbena
  • Cinnamon Basil
  • Apple Scented Geranium
  • Bronze Fennel
  • Dill
  • Summer Savory
  • French Tarragon
  • Anise Hyssop
  • Red Rubin Basil
  • Spicy Globe Basil
  • Cardinal Basil

A few of these herbs will be replacing plants that didn’t make it through the winter in the perennial herb garden. The rest will be going into containers. We haven’t really done herbs in containers in the last 5 years, and they should do well because they don’t love tons of water. Our containers can get pretty dry during the heat of the summer.

That’s it for herbs this year! We still have a few miscellaneous areas to cover on planning, and then we will be getting ready to start seeds!