So here’s a Praying Mantis on Basil, Pea Sprouts, and the Garden Tub Garden

Praying Mantis on Basil

Praying Mantis on Basil

I’ve taken up gardening more seriously this year.  I blame the Cuisinart my dear husband gave me for Christmas.  It turned me into a real “foodie,” you know, a lover of all things delicious.  The Cuisinart came with a recipe book that is really fantastic.  Rosemary Olive Bread, Artisan Bread and Old World Apple Pie (soooo delicious!).

Praying Mantis are beneficial bugs so he can hang out in the basil as long as he wishes.

So I’ve taken time away from silversmithing to get my hands good and dirty.   I’m still making jewelry as orders come in, of course.  But I’m just letting my whims carry me from project to project.

This spring we planted a variety of plants but the big producers were the basil, yellow squash and tomatoes.  For a while there I was making a bottle of tomato sauce a week just too keep up with what was coming off the roma tomato plant.  We started with one food garden in the spring and now we have 4 gardens, one of which is inside in my garden tub, which gets a lovely abundance of filtered light from the East.

Garden Tub Garden

Garden Tub Garden

Yesterday, I saw a gourmet salad on Pinterest.com.  It had pea shoots and tendrils.  I had no idea the leaves of the pea plant were edible.  I was so excited I snipped off a few shoots and tendrils and added them to the salads we had with dinner.  I googled and found an article that said that cutting the pea shoots off actually helps the plants branch out more and produce more sugar snap peas.  Sweet!

Pea Shoots and Tendrils

Pea Shoots and Tendrils

I planted these sugar snap peas on August 27th and they are about 7 inches tall today, September 30th.  They are the perfect size for the top 4 inches to be cut off and eaten.  The shoots have the same flavor as a sugar snap pea but a bit milder and they are soft like lettuce. They don’t even need dressing.

Cutting back the basil has had the same effect as the article mentioned for the peas.  Every time I cut several inches off the top of the basil, the plants make more branches and fill out.  I have to cut back the basil every week and dry it because I love pesto but we can’t consume nearly the quantity this crop is producing.

How to dry basil:

Pick off any yucky leaves such as brown spotted or chewed on by bugs.  Wash and shake off excess water.  Place a large hand full of stems and leaves in the microwave on a paper towel. Set the microwave on defrost setting and run for 1 minute.  Remove it from the microwave, rearrange the leaves and then put it back in for another minute.  The aroma will permeate your house.  When the leaves will crumble easily you can rub the stems between your hands and the basil will break into tiny flakes.  Toss out the stems.  If you find part isn’t crumbling it can go in the microwave again to finish drying.  I store mine in zip lock baggies because all the spice bottles are already full.

We have lots of green tomatoes on the vine and I would love to make fried green tomatoes but my jeans are too tight today… so I’d better lay off the fried foods for just a bit.

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