Organic Farming Blog

Drying Your Fresh Herbs

By: organicfarmingblog, 7:42 AM GMT on June 16, 2014

dryherbpix2 300x214 Drying Your Fresh Herbs

Photo by: http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/wp-content/uploads /2013/05/SS-herbs-drying-jars560x400.jpg


Drying herbs is a neat way to preserve them for cooking. When the leaves and seeds of fresh herbs are grounded or chopped, they release their oils. By drying them at the right temperature and stored properly, they can last for as long as a year.

Air drying process is the simplest and cheapest way to dry fresh herbs. In order to retain their flavor well, they need to be dried naturally. The best thing about air drying is that the slow drying process does not deplete the herbs of their oils.

Timing is an important part in the drying process. Harvest your herbs just before their flowers open and gather them early in the morning as soon as the dew has evaporated to keep them from wilting too much. Non-hardy herbs usually start to wither as the climate cools. It’s best when you start drying your herbs in late summer.

After gathering, remove any defective and diseased leaves and stems. Rinse them immediately with cool water and shake them gently to remove excess water and any insect that may have hitch hiked. Pat them well using paper towel and allow them to dry thoroughly to prevent from developing mold and rot later on. Once they are dry to touch, put labels on them as they will look very much the same when they dry completely.

Remove leaves that are attached about a couple of inches from the bottom of the branch and bundle several branches by binding them with a string. For herbs with high water content, bundle only a few branches to hasten the drying process.  Place each bundle upside down in paper bags with several holes. Tie the end of the bag around the bundle and hang the bags upside down in a well-ventilated area. Check their progress after two weeks and remove any leaves with signs of developing molds. Check them regularly until they are fully dry and ready for storing.

You can tell that the herbs are bone dry when they crush easily. The leaves and seeds detach naturally from the stems. To store your dried herbs, place them in an air tight container and put labels and date for shelf-life reference.

Store them in a dark and dry place to maintain their flavor and color. They can be used from six months to a year. Storing the leaves of your dried herbs whole will retain more flavor as it passes with time and crushing the leaves or seeds only when you need to use them.

So there you have it… as easy as cut, hang and dry! If you have any drying tips, we’d love to hear them.

Array Farming

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Drying Your Fresh Herbs

By: organicfarmingblog, 7:42 AM GMT on June 16, 2014

dryherbpix2 300x214 Drying Your Fresh Herbs

Photo by: http://gardenclub.homedepot.com/wp-content/uploads /2013/05/SS-herbs-drying-jars560x400.jpg


Drying herbs is a neat way to preserve them for cooking. When the leaves and seeds of fresh herbs are grounded or chopped, they release their oils. By drying them at the right temperature and stored properly, they can last for as long as a year.

Air drying process is the simplest and cheapest way to dry fresh herbs. In order to retain their flavor well, they need to be dried naturally. The best thing about air drying is that the slow drying process does not deplete the herbs of their oils.

Timing is an important part in the drying process. Harvest your herbs just before their flowers open and gather them early in the morning as soon as the dew has evaporated to keep them from wilting too much. Non-hardy herbs usually start to wither as the climate cools. It’s best when you start drying your herbs in late summer.

After gathering, remove any defective and diseased leaves and stems. Rinse them immediately with cool water and shake them gently to remove excess water and any insect that may have hitch hiked. Pat them well using paper towel and allow them to dry thoroughly to prevent from developing mold and rot later on. Once they are dry to touch, put labels on them as they will look very much the same when they dry completely.

Remove leaves that are attached about a couple of inches from the bottom of the branch and bundle several branches by binding them with a string. For herbs with high water content, bundle only a few branches to hasten the drying process.  Place each bundle upside down in paper bags with several holes. Tie the end of the bag around the bundle and hang the bags upside down in a well-ventilated area. Check their progress after two weeks and remove any leaves with signs of developing molds. Check them regularly until they are fully dry and ready for storing.

You can tell that the herbs are bone dry when they crush easily. The leaves and seeds detach naturally from the stems. To store your dried herbs, place them in an air tight container and put labels and date for shelf-life reference.

Store them in a dark and dry place to maintain their flavor and color. They can be used from six months to a year. Storing the leaves of your dried herbs whole will retain more flavor as it passes with time and crushing the leaves or seeds only when you need to use them.

So there you have it… as easy as cut, hang and dry! If you have any drying tips, we’d love to hear them.

Array Farming

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High Fiber Composting In Your Garden

By: organicfarmingblog, 6:47 AM GMT on June 09, 2014

100 2013 300x225 High Fiber Composting In Your Garden

Photo by:http://bit.ly/1tXtdYD


If you are a gardener and plan on making your own compost, but not lucky to have the time and the energy to go out every day to check the temperature and turn the mix, then high fiber composting is for you. It is fast becoming a preferred composting method by most gardeners due to its simplicity and ease. It requires no monitoring of temperature and turning the heap every now and then.

Customary composting system is basically heat composting where the compost mix becomes heated in the process breaking down the rotting pile into a rich compost. After a while it cools down, thus needing to be turned several times to maintain the right temperature for the production of compost. In this process, you need to monitor the temperature and conduct a regular turning. Heat is central to this type of composting and to sustain the right temperature, a large volume of compost is required. Composting bins used for backyard gardening are not large enough to produce real heat to do the job making it impractical.

High fiber composting on the other hand is a cold composting process which is a more logical and simpler method where you simply add kitchen wastes, greens and lawn clippings when you have them.  These waste materials give you a nitrogen rich compost.  During the process, you add the secret ingredients which are the dry fibrous materials like newspaper, cardboard (from tissue rolls and cereal boxes which never runs out!), straw, dry leaves which are carbon rich materials. There’s no rule as to how much fibrous material to be added once the mix starts to stink and become sludgy from the rotting greens and other organic ingredients.

The compost heap will not heat up to kill weed seed or any plant diseases, therefore avoid adding seeding weeds and diseased plants. In this process the compost is left to decompose naturally with no turning needed and thus making this system ideal for backyard gardening.

It will take several months for it to break down totally from the bottom up. As it rots, the mix will drop down, creating space on top and you can continue adding waste materials. This works well if your compost bin is open in the bottom where you can dig out the finished compost. Making your own compost bin is best as you can design it to be handy.

The nice thing about cold composting is that you can just gather the quantity you need and leave the rest to continue the composting process. Carbon-rich material is fibrous and dry and therefore does not smell so you can keep on stocking without any problem.

Why limit your compost materials to just kitchen wastes?  Add dried leaves, newspapers, cardboard, office and household paper wastes to improve the quality of your compost.  Good luck and happy gardening!

Array Farming

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Making A Lasagna Gardening Bed

By: organicfarmingblog, 8:50 AM GMT on June 13, 2014

lasagnapix1 300x199 Making A Lasagna Gardening Bed

Photo by: http://www.lewisginter.org/blog/wp-content/uploads /2012/03/locbury-beds-0318.jpg


Why lasagna gardening bed for your garden?  Well, simply because there is less effort in making one! You do not have to work on the substrate. No tilling or double digging is required. Existing weeds will not be much of a problem as the materials you put on top will prevent them from sprouting. The compost or “soil” you build will be easy to work on because they are loose and easily breaks-up. No frequent watering is needed, the compost is better than garden soil in terms of water retention. And lastly, you do not need to add fertilizers. What can be more nutrient rich than layers of organic compost?

Let me share with you some knowledge that provides an advantage before starting your lasagna gardening beds. Let’s begin by taking notes on some good points. You have to remember that lasagna gardening bed is a raised bed and their edges may be washed away during heavy rain especially if you are making small beds. You need to provide them with edging to keep everything in the bed. Shred or chop the materials that you will be putting to prevent them from matting together. The material you put should create air pockets and space for water to move through.  To absorb and retain the water, include soil or compost in your materials. As time passes by, your lasagna bed will drop in volume as the organic materials breaks down. You need to continue adding shredded materials like leaves and cardboard. Keeping these in mind will help you create a productive lasagna bed.

Now, to start with, find a good location to build your lasagna bed and spread cardboard sheets or thick layers of newspaper on the area of the bed. Don’t worry about the grass or weeds underneath, the layers of cardboard or newspaper will suppress them. This dark space will also attract worms that will help convert the waste materials into soil. Spray water to the covered area to keep them in place.

The next layer to put are dried leaves or shredded papers. Spread them (about 6 inches thick) evenly across the bed followed by a layer of your green materials like kitchen wastes and grass trimmings. Do this layering several times until your lasagna bed is about a couple of feet high. This is not an exact science, what is important is to layer your “browns” and “greens” alternately.  Avoid placing food wastes like meat products and used cooking oil including pet droppings. Not Good!

Come planting time, simply dig down (right through the first brown layer) into the bed, place your seedlings and add a thin layer of mulch on top to protect them from too much heat.

Try making your own lasagna garden bed…you’ll be surprised how fun it is!

Array Farming

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Growing Nutritious Microgreens

By: organicfarmingblog, 7:07 AM GMT on June 11, 2014

Microgreenspix1 300x201 Growing Nutritious Microgreens

Photo by: http://www.modernwellness.com/wp-content/uploads/2 013/03/Microgreens.jpg


Microgreens are basically veggies or herbs that are harvested at a very young age. They are the second stage of plants’ progress and are allowed to grow until the first true leaves start to develop.

Microgreens are very easy to grow and a way lot cheaper than buying them in specialty markets, if ever you find one. They disappear fast!

It is really very simple, so let’s start.  The first thing to do is to select a good container that is about 2 inches deep. The diameter will depend on how much greens you plan to grow. There should be several tiny holes under the container for water drainage to keep the soil from being soggy.

Organic potting soil is good for growing microgreens and by adding nutrients will improve the mix further. Fill up the container about 1 ½ inches of potting soil. Smooth the soil and spread it evenly across the container.

As for the seeds to use, you can either buy a pre-packed seed mix or make your own seed mix, but be sure that they are free from soil-born contaminants. Some of the favorite varieties are Arugula, Basil, Beet greens, Spinach, Peas, and Endive. Once you have the seeds ready, scatter them densely on the potting soil and cover with 1/8 inch of soil. Water thoroughly using a plastic sprayer and place the container where it can get at least 4 hours of sunlight. Microgreens grow well in moist soil, so do not allow the soil dry out. Remove any weeds that you see, you don’t want your tiny greens to compete with them for water and nutrients. There’s no need to fertilize the greens while they are growing as you will be harvesting them young. You don’t have to worry about pest and diseases too, since your greens will be growing for a very short time.

Start harvesting your microgreens when their first true leaves have developed, normally about two weeks after they are planted.  Harvest by simply cutting them just above the soil.  Since microgreens will no longer be able to produce new growth after harvest, you can plant another crop right away.  Leave the old roots in the soil to add up as organic material. If you allow your microgreens to grow a week more they will then be called “baby greens”.

Like any fresh vegetables, rinse your microgreens thoroughly before using them. You can add them to almost any dish. Top them to stir fries, soups, sandwiches and to your favorite salad to give them a spicy zing.

Downsizing is what microgreens is all about and be able to grow them just about anywhere and at any time. Wouldn’t it be nice to have nutritiously fresh vegetable all winter?  The best part is that they are free from any chemicals.

I think I’ll be growing microgreens in my kitchen this weekend. How about you?

Array Farming

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About organicfarmingblog

Organic Farming Blog. Filled with interesting facts, comparison articles and opinions on everything related to organic farming.

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