Monthly Archives: August 2014

I Accidentally On Purpose Grew Weeds Up a Trellis

Grew Weeds up trellis

A few weeks ago, this plant started growing in my garden. I didn’t know what it was. I figured maybe there were seeds left in the ground from the previous owners. We moved to this house just two months ago.

I looked at this beautiful plant with its broad leaves and yellow flowers and thought, maybe it’s a cantaloupe. I’ve never grown cantaloupe before, so I wasn’t really sure what it looked like. My sister is growing cantaloupe in her garden (this is her first year gardening) so I sent her a picture and asked her if it looked like her cantaloupe. She said, yes, it looked like what she had in her garden.

So, I got my trellis out of the garage and put it in the ground and strung it up. I guided the plant through the strings. And then I waited a few days.

Then I noticed two more cantaloupe plants growing right near my trellis. Perfect! I thought, I am so lucky the previous owners grew cantaloupe. I love those old house owners.

Then a week went by and I noticed the cantaloupe was still growing straight up. Don’t cantaloupe vines grow along the ground and you have to guide them up a trellis?

The cantaloupe kept growing. I waited another week and continued to water them regularly.

My sister came over and I said, come out and look at my cantaloupe. I’m not sure if it’s cantaloupe. Aren’t they supposed to grow like a vine?

She took one look at it and said, “No, that’s not cantaloupe. I don’t know what that is, some sort of weed. That doesn’t look anything like a cantaloupe plant.”

So, for the past three weeks, I, the gardening blogger, have been accidentally on purpose training weeds to grow up a trellis. Thank goodness this is a humor blog!

I searched on the internet to find out what in the heck I’ve been growing. It turns out to be a common wildflower in Illinois, called Velvetleaf. It’s often found in vacant lots, construction sites and waste areas – like my garden. One of the more interesting things the IllinoisWildflowers.com shared about this plant was that, “Velvetleaf is a rather tall and lanky plant with large leaves that is easy to identify in the field because there is really nothing else that resembles it.”

No, I’m sorry, IT LOOKS LIKE CANTALOUPE! Broad leaves? Yellow flowers? Cantaloupe!

NOT cantaloupe

OMG, this looks NOTHING like cantaloupe.

Here’s what a cantaloupe plant really looks like (from my sister’s garden)…

Image

I can’t believe I’ve spent the last three weeks growing weeds up a trellis.

Have you ever done something embarrassing in your garden like this? (Please say, yes.)

A Quick and Easy Way to Dry Herbs from Your Garden

quick and easy way to dehydrate herbs

I have a few herbs growing in my garden: oregano, basil, chives, thyme, and mint. One of the things I like to do when I have an abundance of any one herb is to dry it to use during the winter.

I’ve tried two methods of drying herbs: Hanging herbs to dry and using an electric dehydrator.

Hanging Herbs to Dry

My husband got me this sweet herb drying rack a few years ago. You hang a few stems of leaves on it leave them to dry.

drying herbs

But this crap takes for-EVAH. Ain’t nobody got time for dat. I mean, it looks pretty (if you like dead leaves hanging from your ceiling) and it’s the most natural way to dry them as it doesn’t require any electricity. But I left those suckers on there for two weeks and when it’s hot and humid in the summer that stuff never fully dries. The basil leaves were almost gummy. They just wouldn’t crumble. So, I tried the dehydrator.

Using an Electric Dehydrator

I don’t have one of those fancy expensive dehydrators. I have one that I got at one of those Christmas Steal-a-gift gift exchanges that I despise. But the year I won this, I actually liked the game. Every other year I’ve gotten a foot massager or Snuggie or some super lame gift someone picked up at Walgreens on their way to the party.

Ronco food dehydrator

Now, I’m sure this dehydrator was probably picked up at Walgreens too, but whatever, I love this thing. Not only do I use it for herbs, but for apple rings in the fall. I tried drying tomatoes one year, but they were kind of meh.

How to use the dehydrator:

I wash my herbs (if I’m not too lazy) and lay them out on the drying racks so they’re not touching.

drying herbs in dehydrator

I have five racks, so I can dry a lot of herbs. I plug the machine in – it’s so cheap, there’s not even an “on” switch – and walk away for about 45 minutes. After that I check on them every 30 minutes and rotate the racks up and down, as necessary, so the herbs get even drying times. Sometimes, if the herbs are small, they’re dry within 45 minutes.

The only issue I have with the dehydrator is that some of the herbs, like, thyme, are so small that they fall between the cracks of the racks. I just have to be extra gentle when removing those since they’re so fragile. But then I just take the racks off and flip the dehydrator upside-down and…clean! – so I don’t know why I’m complaining.

I take the dried herbs off the rack, pull the leaves off the stems, crush them up and put them in a resealable bag or glass jar. I label it with the herb and date. And no matter how I store it, it looks like pot.

I’ve read that you can dry herbs in a microwave and in a paper bag, but I’ve been so pleased with my dehydrator that I’ve never tried those methods. How about you?

What’s your experience with drying herbs?