Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wishing for thyme in the demo garden

Every time I visit the demo garden I am struck by how wonderfully it is growing. I really enjoy visting and working in the garden because there is always something new to observe. Last week the demo garden changed its look slightly. The Haricot vertical bush beans and the Goldrush bush wax beans were harvested and the plants pulled out. The beans were so pretty that I just had to eat one of the yellow wax beans before the volunteers took the pile of beans home.

The acorn squash plant is huge! We pulled the bean plants out as soon as we harvested the beans to make room for the monstrous plant. The plant has many small squashes on it. The plant and the weird shaped (acorn looking) squashes are provoking many comments from all of the volunteers, as well as one of the park employees who is looking forward to trying one as soon as they are ready to harvest.

I also chopped down half of the buckwheat and am going to turn it under with a shovel this week. This will allow the plant to decompose in the soil and release its nutrients for our next planting. The buckwheat has grown so much (it comes up to my waist now) and is covered in small, attractive, white flowers. The bees are enjoying the buckwheat flowers even more than I am! Every time I go to the garden the flowers are covered in bees of all sizes, which isn’t too much of a surprise since buckwheat honey seems to be popular. It is a wonderful sight! For more information about buckwheat and cover crops check out my post from a few weeks ago.

Herbs take up a section of the demo garden with Sweet Marjoram, Basil, Dill, Coriander, and two kinds of Parsley growing. These are a nice addition to the garden because they can be harvested almost constantly throughout the summer and add a really nice touch to dishes. My family planted an herb garden along the back of our house this year and I am trying to remember to utilize them as possible this summer.
Herbs always seem a little tricky to me. I am never quite sure how you are supposed to pick each herb, when to cut, if I am supposed to pick the flowers off, how much water they need, how to preserve them, etc. For help with these questions and others, visit the West Virginia Extension Service’s site about growing herbs in the home garden.
Herbs not only add great flavor to recipes, but they also prove their worth as good sources of vitamins and minerals. Marjoram contains calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamins A and C. Basil is rich in magnesium, manganese, and vitamins A, C, and K. Dill contains calcium, iron, manganese, and Vitamins A and C. Coriander is full of Vitamins A, K, B, C, E as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.

Parsley is the stand out herb, as far as nutrition is concerned, being a great source of Vitamins A, K and many B vitamins. I’ve even heard that it contains more Vitamin C than some citrus fruits! Parsley also has iron, calcium, potassium, copper, manganese, and iodine.
This is enough to convince me that I need to make an effort to add some spice to my cooking. Not only will my taste buds benefit, but my body will as well!


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