My herb garden has matured so much since it was planted in the spring. The plants are lush and aromatic. I love walking through the garden and catching the scent of lemon balm, basil and lavender as the breeze stirs the plants. As fall brings the promise of cooler weather, it is time to begin harvesting the leaves. Today, for my first, I made a simple drying rack and began gathering herbs into bouquets to dry.
I love using herbs for occasional cooking. I don’t cook much except during the holidays and in the cooler months when I enjoy making chili and an assortment of soups. I especially enjoy dried herbs in making my own teas, potpourri and beauty products. I wanted an Apothecary garden to be a central part of the backyard garden. With such an abundance of healthy herbs, I intend to learn more uses for these versatile plants.
Today I gathered lemon balm, oregano, lavender, globe basil and regular basil, mint, thyme, lemon grass and Russian sage, fresh from the garden. I loved inhaling in the amazing scents as I snipped sprigs. Using a heavy string, I tied the herbs into bunches. In the spring, I had saved a couple of small bamboo trellises that two of my clematises came with. I knew I would find a use for them. This evening I repurposed them into a simple drying rack, tying the two together with more string. Greg secured four cup hooks above the kitchen sink for me and attached the makeshift drying rack to them, looping string around the rack and creating slipknots. I was impressed with the knots! He was a boyscout….I was a campfire girl. I focused more on making fire, I suppose!
After the rack was suspended above the sink, in front of the window, I attached each bunch of herbs, upside down. The air can circulate freely and dry the plants. After the herbs are thoroughly dried, I’ll crumble them up and store them in airtight containers. The herbs will preserve their flavor and aroma for a year. I’ll hang a thin curtain over the window tomorrow so the plants won’t get direct sun while they dry.
I stepped back and observed my work. What a thrill, to tuck those young plants into the ground last spring, nurture them and watch them grow, and now begin the drying process. In the past, I’ve bought dried herbs from a favorite health food store. Now I’ll have my own. I love that I have a relationship with these plants! As I use the herbs this fall and winter I’ll reflect back on their time in my sunny garden and the joy they have given to me. Next spring they will push up through the earth once more to grace me again with their presence. One lovely gift they offer now is that I won’t mind standing at the kitchen sink, washing dishes, with the fragrant herbs drying there. I might even start cooking early this fall so I’ll have an excuse to be in the kitchen!