Description

Thyme is a fragrant, small, perennial evergreen shrub with six- to eight-inch stems that often spread out over the ground. It's a member of the mint family and has square stems with small opposite leaves and pale lavender mintlike flowers. Thyme is a charming, cheerful little plant and will last for years once it's established. It's a good plant for a border or rock garden. There a more than 200 species and manA hybrids, but the common form i the one grown for flavoring. The Greeks and Romans believed that thyme gave courage and strength; their highest compliment was to tell a man that he smelled of thyme. In the Middle Ages ladies embroidered sprigs of thyme on the scarves they gave their knights. Linnaeus, the father of modern botany, recommended thyme as a hangover cure.

Where and when to grow

Thyme prefers a mild climate but can survive temperatures below freezing. It tolerates cold better in well-drained soil. Plant thyme from seed anywhere in the United States two to three weeks before your average date of last frost.

How to plant

Thyme likes well-drained soil, preferably low in fertility; rich soils produce plants that are large but less fragrant. The first year, work a low-nitrogen (5-10-10) fertilizer into the soil before planting at the rate of about a half pound per 100 square feet. This is generous of you, because in adverse soil conditions thyme, like many herbs, will have better flavor. Whatever the soil's like, it's important to give thyme a place in the sun. Plant seeds in early spring, two to three weeks before your average date of last

Thyme seedling

frost. Plant the seeds a quarter inch deep in rows 16 to 24 inches apart, and when the seedlings are two to three inches tall thin them about a foot apart. You can also plant thyme cuttings or root divisions. Plant them at the same time, and space them a foot apart.

Fertilizing and watering

Don't fertilize at midseason. Detailed information on fertilizing is given in "Spadework: The Essential Soil" in Parti.

Thyme seldom needs watering; it does best on the dry side.

Special handling

Some herbs, like mints, grow like weeds whatever the competition. Thyme can't handle competition, especially from grassy weeds, and needs an orderly environment; cultivate conscientiously.

Start new plants every three to four years, because thyme gets woody; reduce the clump greatly. If you've no room in the garden for extra plants, plant them in a hanging basket.

Pests

Thyme has no serious pest problems. Like most herbs, it's ideal for the organic gardener.

Diseases

Thyme has no serious disease problems.

When and how to harvest

Pick thyme as needed. For drying, harvest when the plants begin to bloom. Cut off the tops of the branches with four to five inches of flowering stems.

Storing and preserving

After drying, crumble the thyme and put into tightly capped jars. Detailed information on storing and preserving is given in Part 3.

Serving suggestions

Thyme is usually blended with other herbs and used in meat dishes, poultry, stuffings (parsley and thyme is a happy combination), and soups. It adds a nice flavor to clam chowder and is often used along with a bay leaf to give a delicate lift to a white sauce or a cheese souffle.

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Plan Roman Florence

Once you've harvested your crops, you may find yourself with a big surplus. What do you do with all those vegetables? Well, you can — and will — enjoy them fresh; and you can also give a lot of them away. You can keep them in the refrigerator for a few days. You can freeze, can, or dry them for the months ahead, as detailed in the following chapters. But in some cases, cold storage — not freezing — can be your best bet. It's a low-effort, electricity-free choice that can keep you supplied with fresh vegetables all winter long. Both refrigerator storage and cold storage are discussed below, and the accompanying chart shows you which methods of storing or preserving work best for each vegetable.

Vegetable preserving methods

Vegetable

Cold Storage

Freezing

Canning

Drying

Artichoke

t*

Asparagus

**

**

Bean, broad

v (dried)

w

*

*

Bean, dry

V (dried)

V

V

Bean, green

V

V*

Bean, lima

(dried)

V

**

V

Bean, mung

V*

Beet

root

V

V*

greens

V

t*

t*

Broccoli

**

V*

Brussels sprout

e

k*

Cabbage

V

*

Cardoon

V

V

f

Carrot

V*

i*

H*

Cauliflower

V*

V*

(pickled)

Celeriac

v*

v

Celery

v*

V*

V

v*

Chard

V

v

Chayote

v*

**

Chick pea

f (dried)

w

*

v

Chicory

v

Chinese cabbage

e

v

x*

Collard

V

*

Corn

v

v*

Cress, garden

Cucumber

v* (pickled)

Dandelion

Eggplant

v*

*

Endive

Fennel

v*

v

Horseradish

n*

*

v

Jerusalem artichoke

**

Kale

v*

**

**

Kohlrabi

**

Vegetable preserving methods continued

Vegetable

Cold Storage

Freezing

Canning

Drying

Leek

V*

\S

Lentil

e* (dried)

*s

*s

Lettuce

Mushroom

c

)S

Muskmelon

*

V*

f (pickled)

Mustard

]S

f

)S

Okra

*s

)S

iS

Onion

mature

)S

*s

}S

}S

green

IS

ys

Parsnip

IS

iS

Peanut

is (dried)

IS

iS

iS

Pea

* (dried)

V

\S

\S

Pea, black-eyed

*s (dried)

iS

IS

*S

Pepper

\S

is

ts

IS

Potato

\s

\S

>S

*S

Pumpkin

is

V

Radish

Rhubarb

IS

IS

Rutabaga

)S

V

Salsify

}S

Shallot

*s

%s

*S

*S

Sorrel

Soybean

IS (dried)

vs

is

*S

Spinach, New Zealand spinach

IS

]S

\S

Squash, summer

iS

*S

Squash, winter

\S

IS

IS

Sweet potato

IS

iS

IS

IS

Tomato

*s (green)

iS

ts

Turnip

root

*s

ts

greens

)S

*S

iS

)S

Watermelon

V

IS

V (pickled)

SHORT-TERM REFRIGERATOR STORAGE

Most vegetables keep best for a short time when stored in the refrigerator, at a high humidity and a constant temperature, just above freezing. A temperature of about 40°F and a humidity of 95 percent are ideal for storing fresh vegetables, and these conditions are most likely to be found in the crisper or hydrator sections of the refrigerator. For the best results, the crisper should be at least two-

thirds full; if it's empty or almost empty, vegetables placed in it will dry out.

To keep vegetables moist and fresh, follow these simple rules of refrigerator storage:

  • Store vegetables in the crisper or hydrator, and keep the crisper full.
  • When storing only a few vegetables, put them into airtight plastic bags or plastic containers, then into the crisper.
  • When storing vegetables in other parts of the refrigerator, put them into airtight plastic bags or plastic containers to prevent moisture loss.

Almost all vegetables store well in the refrigerator, but there are a few that don't. Mature onions, peanuts (dried), potatoes, sweet potatoes, pumpkins, winter squash, and such root vegetables as rutabagas, salsify, and turnips keep better in cold storage outside the refrigerator, in a basement storage room or root cellar. This type of storage is discussed in the next section. Most other vegetables, regardless of whether they can be kept in cold storage, keep very well for a short time in the refrigerator.

Preparing vegetables for refrigerator storage

Refrigerator storage is the simplest type of storage to prepare for — all you have to do is sort the vegetables, remove damaged or soft ones for immediate use or discard, and remove as much garden soil as you can. Some vegetables should be washed before they're stored; others keep better when they're not washeAd until you're ready to use them. The directions below tell you how to prepare each type of vegetable for refrigerator storage. For the best results, discard damaged vegetables or use them immediately; perfect vegetables keep best.

Artichokes

Do not wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 2 weeks.

Asparagus

Do not wash until ready to use. Slice off bottoms of stalks and stand upright in 1 to 2 inches of water. Store up to 1 week.

Beans, green or snap

Do not wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Beans, broad, dry, lima, or mung

Do not shell or wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Beets

Cut off tops, leaving about 1 inch of stem. Do not wash roots until ready to use. Store in plastic bag for 1 to 3 weeks. Wash greens thoroughly in cold water; drain well and store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Broccoli

Do not wash until ready to use. Remove any damaged leaves. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Brussels sprouts

Do not wash until ready to use. Remove any damaged leaves. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Cabbage

Do not wash until ready to use. Remove any damaged leaves. Store in plastic bag for 1 to 2 weeks.

Cardoon

Trim roots and cut off leaves. Wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Store stalks attached to root in plastic bag for 1 to 2 weeks.

Carrots

Cut off tops. Wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Store in plastic bag for 1 to 3 weeks.

Cauliflower

Do not wash until ready to use. Remove any damaged leaves. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Celeriac

Cut off leaves and root fibers. Do not wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Celery

Trim roots and wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Cut off leaves and store in plastic bag for 3 to 5 days. Store stalks attached at root in plastic bag fori to 2 weeks.

Chard

Wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Trim any bad spots on leaves and cut off tough stalks. Store in plastic bag for 1 to 2 weeks.

Chayote

Do not wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Chick peas

Horseradish

Do not shell or wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Chicory

Do not wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Chinese cabbage

Trim roots and wash thoroughly in cold waters-drain well. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Collards

Wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Remove any damaged leaves. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Corn

Do not husk or wash; store in plastic bag for 4 to 8 days. For best flavor, do not store; use immediately.

Cress, garden

Wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Cucumbers

Wash thoroughly in cold water and pat dry. Do not cut until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Dandelion

Cut off roots and remove any damaged leaves. Wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Eggplant

Store eggplant at about 50°F, up to 1 week. Do not refrigerate.

Endive

Wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Remove any damaged leaves. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Fennel

Do not separate stalks or wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Cut off leaves and trim root; wash thoroughly in cold water and pat dry. Mix with vinegar and water according to recipe in "How to Freeze Vegetables." Store in airtight glass jar in refrigerator fori to2weeks. For stronger flavor, grate as soon as possible after picking; store in airtight glass jar.

Jerusalem artichokes

Wash tubers thoroughly in cold water and pat dry. Store in plastic bag for 7 to 10 days.

Kale

Wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Remove any damaged leaves. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Kohlrabi

Cut off leaves and trim root; wash thoroughly in cold water and pat dry. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Leeks

Cut off roots and all but 2 inches of leaves. Do not wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week. Wash very thoroughly in cold water before using.

Lentils

Do not shell or wash until ready to use. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week.

Lettuce

Wash thoroughly in cold water; drain well. Store in plastic bag up to 2 weeks.

Mushrooms

Do not wash until ready to use. Store in open plastic bag or spread on a tray and cover with damp paper towels. Store up to 1 week. Wash quickly in cold water before using; pat dry.

Muskmelon

Do not wash. Store in plastic bag up to 1 week; cover cut surfaces with plastic wrap.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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