Articulations in August
It seems as though the summer is going to continue to challenge us. Here in Massachusetts, we have had more rain than sun. This is great for some plants, but devastating for others.My tomatoes are just starting to ripen, but are splitting open as they are so full of water. The basil is just sitting there - it hasn't grown much more than an inch or so since being set out the beginning of June. Most of the herbs, though are doing great - though many plants are blooming earlier than usual. My everlastings - statice and strawflowers - are lush and full, but it's a real challenge to be able to cut them dry. Weeds are growing, well, like weeds! At least the rain makes it easier to pull them out. The chickens just love all the luscious greens I've been giving them, and my compost piles are out of control!
I've just returned from the International Herb Association's Conference in Huntsville, AL. The IHA is an organization for people involved in the business of herbs. Alabama was not someplace I wanted to explore in July. But the sessions were wonderful - both educational and fun. It's great to be able to network and "talk herbs" with like-minded people. IHA is also the group that instituted and actively promotes the Herb of the Year. Each year, starting in 1995, an herb is designated to showcase its herbal properties. The herb must be useful in at least two categories - for example, culinary and medicinal. This year, Bay is the HOY. Most of us use a bay leaf in soups, stews or sauces, but it can be used in sweet dishes, as well, imparting a lovely aroma and taste that you wouldn't expect. One fabulous recipe is Susan Belsinger's Chocolate Pudding with Bay - you won't believe the accent that bay adds to a simple pudding. IHA publishes a book each year detailing the many aspects of the herb of the year. Susan's pudding recipe (along with others) is included in the 2009 Bay guide. This book, along with earlier publications, can be ordered from www.iherb.org. On the website you will also find a list of the past and future Herbs of the Year. The Herb Society of America also has publications on the HOY, available for downloading by members of HSA. Both of these organizations are valuable resources for herbal information.
Meanwhile, I am planning to make the Bay Liqueur recipe I recently heard of and sampled at a Symposium held by the CT Unit of The Herb Society of America. It takes 9 months to properly prepare this concoction - but it is definitely worth it. You probably already know that a leaf or two of bay tucked in flour canisters acts as an insect repellent for those nasty flour moths. They can be a real problem, so why not use a simple preventative? Looking ahead, next year's HOY is dill. This plant has been doing exceptionally well in my garden - except for those totally defoliated by some caterpillars. But as you can see, it was worth sacrificing a few plants!
Happy gardening - and here's hoping for some sun!
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