L Allen

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since Apr 07, 2020
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hugelkultur forest garden foraging food preservation cooking
I'm a long-time gardener/farm girl, short-time Northwesterner/wife. I finally dragged the hubby to a 2.5 acre wooded property (think "Green Acres" with a gender swap) and we've begun the process of becoming more self-sustaining.
Seattle burbs
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Recent posts by L Allen

Laurie Dyer wrote:

I'm always looking to add more thyme varieties to my collection. I have creeping thyme, lemon thyme, and woolly thyme. (To be honest, I only really eat the creeping thyme, the others are mostly used as ground cover). Do you have any suggestions for another variety to add?

Laurie, there are dozens of species and cultivars around to be found. Collecting thymes can become pretty addictive! This online nursery, https://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/Thyme.htm  / Mountain Valley Growers has a good list (many of these can be found elsewhere as seed or cheaper starts, but this is a good place to start.) Some of them are admittedly hard to distinguish, especially the citrus ones; if you like thyme teas, that's the best way to appreciate some of the subtle differences.

I've found that the flavor of all the thymes really depends on microclimate, soil, and weather cycles; if they're grown too wet and too fast, they don't taste as strong or as distinct from one another. When I moved from the hot, dry south to the cool, wet northwest, I found that some of my favorite thymes (Thymus pulegoides varieties) taste sort of generically herby most years; I really have to pay careful attention to soil and sun with these.

[Edited to add:

"Keeping Up Appearances" always reminded me of my mother, in a not-so-flattering way; she didn't exactly pronounce our last name in French, but she was just that much shy of Hyacinth.

A few years ago, she told me she'd discovered the most hilarious show...guess what it was? She loves "KUA" now and has every episode memorized. ]

Ah! And don't forget:

1 year ago

Hugo Morvan wrote:
L Allen, since you grow six varieties, would you happen to know if there is one that takes kindly to pruning? I notice that they get woody and woodier in three or four years, become small shrubs , then when i prune mine back, they do not become the soft lush easy to handle twigs any more. Since i grow lots of them in rows in my beds as a border and mini wind trap i'd like to improve on the situation.
I thyme propagation

Hugo, I think the regular garden thyme, Thymus vulgaris, responds best to hard pruning. I have a few older plants in big pots that I've moved around, and they've done well enough with a 2/3 sheer in early spring.

That said, I often just start a few new plants from seed every year and tuck them around in the garden beds. I find new varieties in the seed catalogs and have to try them! This is how I have so many. :-)

The worst about taking a pruning, I've found, is the pretty little variegated lemon thyme (a variety of T. citriodorus.) It just stays woody, it's tough to root, and I have a hard time finding starts (no seed's available, as far as I know.) The regular lemon thyme responds moderately well to pruning in my garden, but since it's super easy to start from seed, I grow a cell pack every year with my other veggie starts. Orange thyme, ditto.

The more permanent thymes don't respond as well, either. The wooly thymes (T. serpyllum and varieties) are pretty much always woody, in my experience. I have some clumps in the rockery, and tucked here and there. and I consider them a backup edible ornamental that I could use in a pinch. While I love edible ornamentals and thyme in particular (bees love it too!) the garden varieties are tastier and faster growing.
I think they taste quite different too. In fact, I grow about six different thymes and four oreganos, and they're all very distinct.

By the way, if you're using fresh young thyme growth that isn't woody, you don't have to strip the leaves. Just fine-chop the whole stem, especially if it's going to be in a cooked dish. :-)
Elva, I use exactly what Dan describes: a small, cheap electric coffee grinder. I think I got this thing for $5 at a garage sale, but it's regularly only $20 or so new. I use it only for herbs and spices.

You might be able to use a regular blender on your tomato skins. Blend them while they're fresh, make a kind of thick slurry (add water if you need to?) and then dehydrate them in a thin layer on parchment or one of those fruit leather screens. You might be able to get them dry enough that way; then you could put them in a bag and use a rolling pin to powder them. The trick will be getting them bone-dry.

I haven't tried the above method before, to be fair! It sounds like it might work, but I'm about half mad scientist...your mileage may vary. :-)
1 year ago
Also, while easement laws do indeed vary by state, most states have provisions for easements that aren't officially recorded on the deed. If the only way to access property A is through property B, an implied easement or easement-by-necessity is almost always legally granted, for instance, and will be upheld in any court. Easement by prior use is also usually covered; if, for instance, a road through property A has been in continual use since the owners of property B bought their land, it's also usually considered a legal easement, even if unrecorded.

Easement law is fairly complex and doesn't come down to what's on the deed, a lot of the time. You might need to get together with the neighbor in question and maybe split the cost of an attorney's consultation, if it comes down to that? (I'm not an attorney myself, but I've dealt with easement issues in three states now. All worked out fine, once the legalities were clarified.)
1 year ago
I'm not sure which heading this should go under, but as I just made myself a big bowl of cole corn, I thought this would be the perfect time to share a (sort-of) secret: cole powder.

A few years ago I was on a mission to recreate a homemade version of Veggie-flavor Pirate's Booty snack food and I stumbled onto cole powder. I dehydrated some leaves from my broccolini plants and ground them up in the herb grinder, hoping to get something green and kale-y. Turns out it's delicious! My favorite use for it is still the faux Pirate's Booty, or cole corn: you mix a couple of tablespoons each of cole powder and nutritional yeast, then add a pinch of salt and a pinch or two of sugar, and sprinkle it on fresh popcorn. Very, very good.

But I've found uses for it elsewhere too. It's a nice garnish for white dishes like chowder or mashed potatoes, for one thing. It's good in soup, if you have a lot of it. It also turns things green, which is a plus at Halloween.

I've branched out and started dehydrating the leaves off quite a few of my cole-family plants too, and they're all pretty good. Today was a fall clean-up day in the garden, and the compost pile had to fight me for the leftover summer broccoli leaves. Old kale is good too, or chard leaves. Anything in the cabbage family (most of which have technically edible leaves) that's too tough to eat or maybe gone a little too bitter to eat on its own, I now dehydrate and grind up.

This year I've tried powdering all sorts of other things too, like fermented sweet peppers and dehydrated kimchee. The jury's still out on that, but dehydrated and powdered mixed alliums (leek tops, onions that I couldn't use up, some leftover garlic greens) is a winner. It's good on practically everything.

I'm thinking this'll be one of those discoveries that turns out to only be novel to the current discoverer, but just in case...enjoy!
1 year ago

jordan barton wrote:so the lemons sat on the counter for 3 weeks plus

They are yummy!

I have had about 2 slices so far. They are quite salty. I would use less salt next time i do them.

Great! They're so tasty; it's good know there's another fan. :-)

Be careful about altering the salt, though; that's what preserves them and retards mold. You can rinse them before using them, and that helps a lot.
1 year ago
Does anyone else have their kiwifruit vines in a container? I impulse-bought two fuzzy kiwi plants last year- a male ('Matua') and a self-pollinating female ('Jenny')- and then realized when I got home that I seriously had no place to put them. I usually get away with impulse plants ("There's always room somewhere," is my motto) but not with these guys...no spot was right at all for them. So into a 15-gallon bucket they went, and I built a trellis so they could climb up to the second-floor deck.

They didn't bloom this year, but from what I understand that's normal for young vines. I'm in zone 8b but we do get a lot of snow up here, so I keep burlap and bubble wrap to protect them in the winter; they did fine last year, no dieback at all. They get about four hours' sun each day at their feet and an extra couple of hours further up the trellis.

But am I just wasting my time? Will they manage to produce in a pot? I wish I'd stuck them in a half-barrel, but I didn't have one; I feel sure I'll have to figure out how to repot them into something larger one of these days.

(Thanks for the new dedicated forum, by the way!)

1 year ago
This was my first experiment in fermentation, and it's still my sentimental favorite. I always have at least two jars ongoing: one with added spices (peppercorns, coriander, mustard seed, and cinnamon) and one without. I keep the open jar in the fridge and sometimes just add to it: a cut-up lemon every now and then, sometimes some salt.

I've found so many ways to eat them! Of course they're great in tagines and similar dishes, but they're also really good anywhere you might use capers. Adding them potato salad has been the hands-down family favorite so far, though; my husband refuses to eat potato salad without them now.

Good luck with yours!
1 year ago