A garden is the best alternative therapy.

Another Herb Garden Harvest

Freshly harvested herbs ...

Freshly harvested herbs ...

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... and more.

... and more.

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It has been about two weeks since I last harvested the herb garden. As always, the basil grew by leaps and bounds. I have to trim it every couple of weeks so that it doesn’t get too big and block the sun from the marjoram and chives. I like to get out there in the morning before it starts to get warm. This when the plants are their coolest and also when the highest concentrations of oils are present in the leaves. As the day progresses things start to warm up, those oils withdraw into the stems and stalks. I am treating the herbs as perennials, hoping I can keep them going through most of the winter (we’ll see how that goes!), so I make sure I don’t trim more than a 1/3 of the plant at any given time. I have found that I can be a little more aggressive with the basil, but it takes awhile for it to bounce back. Two harvests ago (this is the sixth since June), I cut it back to nearly half. It took three weeks for it to bush back out. I’ve been very happy with the basil. I have several ziploc storage bags of dried leaves, which we intend to give away later as gifts.
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Basil before

Basil before

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Basil after

Basil after

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We don’t have any fancy drying equipment and I don’t have an elaborate setup. I have found that binder clips from the office have many uses, and I clip those to hangers and then clip the trimmed herbs upside down from them. The herbs get hung in a dark closet, covered with a black plastic bag to keep out the light and dust. Too much light really changes the color of the dried basil, which is why I like to keep it as dark as possible. In about three or four days, the herbs are dry.
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Trimmed basil ready to go into the closet to dry.

Trimmed basil ready to go into the closet to dry.

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I also harvested sage, thyme and marjoram today. Regular trimming helps encourage new growth and bushiness. I still have some space in the herb garden for the herbs to fill up, so I am trying to develop them a little wider. The oregano has spread out quite a bit since first planting, but I have yet to harvest any of it. I’m waiting for it to branch out some more and, hopefully, it will begin lifting up, too. When it starts to grow taller, that’s when I’ll start harvesting it. The chives just get harvested as they’re needed. They don’t dry well, so they’re always best fresh. The other herbs dry well and retain their flavor – especially the marjoram, which seems to only intensify.
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Thyme, sage and marjoram

Thyme, sage and marjoram

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Mediterranean oregano

Mediterranean oregano

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Mexican oregano ... flanking the thyme

Mexican oregano ... flanking the thyme

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The herbs, 6/7 - three weeks after planting.  How tiny they were!

The herbs, 6/7 - three weeks after planting. How tiny they were!

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