Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sweet Delicate Lavender

For over 20 years, we've had roses growing in a garden surrounding our deck. For the past 3 years, we've been overwhelmed with Japanese beetles, where all we seem to be doing is applying Sevin dust constantly to get rid of the little pests. So we decided to transplant our roses to our front island garden. We bought 12 lavender plants at the end of last season for a great price. We planted them and hoped they would last the winter, as they really weren't looking good at the store. Guess what? They did survive! We've now got to get woodchips to fill in to make our lavender garden look pretty.

I love to cook with lavender! I make lavender jelly every year as well as rose petal jelly. They are such delicate flavors to spread on bread or crackers. I even made cream scones with lavender jelly that my husband and I munched on while watching the William & Catherine Royal Wedding, and they were delightful! Of course lavender is an ingredient in one of my favorite herb blends, Herbes de Provence. I make my own blend from my herbs that I've grown. Last year was the first year I couldn't find any marjoram to grow, so I had to buy it along with savory & fennel seeds. Still looking for another plant! My recipe is:

Herbes de Provence
2 tablespoons dried, crushed lavender
2 tablespoons dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried thyme
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried basil
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoons dried, crushed fennel seed
2 tablespoons dried savory

Mix the blend all together and store away in a small jar.

Starting my 2011 Garden - Peppers - jalapenos & cubanelles - Tomatoes

It's been a long time coming this year. But finally, it's almost planting time, here in a suburb of Chicago! The search words that usually make it to this blog is cubanelles or cubanelle peppers. I grew them a couple of years ago, but it really is still the most searched for this site. So, I gave in this year and bought two cubanelle peppers to grow with my jalapenos.

I bought plants this year, as the room that I used for growing seeds in was made into an office space for my husband. And he doesn't like it too warm. Big hmmm there. So I bought my peppers this year at Lowe's. From $3.49 for the mammoth jalapenos to $1.18 for the regular jalapenos. I got 6 mammoth jalapeno, 3 regular jalapeno, 2 cubanelle and 1 New Mexico Big Jim chile pepper. I'm still looking for some poblano plants....  I also bought some Roma Tomato plants. I like romas, because I make a ton of salsa and spaghetti sauce. Salsa is my favorite thing to can every fall! I'm getting ahead of myself! None of these plants are ready to put in the ground yet. I like to wait until the weather is at least 50 degrees at night. Shouldn't be but another week or so. I can't wait!

In the meantime, I always wonder if I am getting different peppers when buying them from the store. The leaves look identical on the jalapeno, cubanelle and the Big Jim pepper, at least at this point in their young lives. You never know untill those peppers start growing, LOL! I do know when I grew peppers from seed last year, my poblano peppers took a lot longer to germinate than my jalapenos. And they do tend to look alike until they start growing in height. While jalapenos are little bushes, the poblano plant grows tall (I've had over 4ft high). It's almost like a little tree. My husband and I are just totally fascinated with the poblano plant. But all peppers are truly interesting to us. The shape, smell and of course the flavor of each one. Fascinating!