Do you grow herbs in your garden?

“Herb gardening is becoming more and more popular every day, and for a good reason. Herbs have practical value, serve a purpose, and with herb gardening you can actually use your plants. When most people think of herb gardening they automatically think of cooking, but herbs are also grown for their pleasant aroma and their beauty.

One important part of herb gardening is drying the herbs for use during the winter months, especially if you plan on cooking with them. First the tops of leafy herbs have to be cut, washed, and hung up for the water to evaporate. Then, tie stems together and hang up in a paper bag to dry. After two to three weeks they must be removed; crumble the leaves, dry them out in the oven, and store in a glass jar.

One of the most common herbs gown in herb gardening is basil. “Dark Opal” and regular green basil are beautiful additions to any garden and often used as decoration. Dark Opal has light pink flowers and dark red leaves. Basil isn’t just used for its looks; it is used for extra flavor in tomato juices and pastes.

Chives are very petite looking and resemble a blade of grass. They are much stronger than they look, however, and will grow well through a drought and a drought. Their toughness and sturdiness makes Chives a perfect plant for herb gardening, especially if the gardener doesn’t want plants that require a lot of hassle. Chives are good used in salads, egg dishes, and many different sauces.

Mint is also very simple to grow and is good to use in mint jelly, mint juleps, lemonade, and any other kind of fruity drink. Mint is also good in herb gardening for its unique minty smell. Two herbs that appear in nearly everyone’s herb garden are thyme and sage. Both of these herb gardening favorites are used for flavoring soups, chicken, turkey, pork, and other sausages. Sage is also grown sometimes for its beautiful blue spiked flowers.

Lavender is probably the best smelling herb in all of herb gardening and is often used in candles, as a perfume scent, and to improve the smell in linen chests. The light purple flowers smell absolutely lovely.

Other types of herbs often grown in herb gardening include borage (used in salads), chervil (used in egg dishes), sweet marjoram (flavors lamb, fish, salad, and soup), sesame (flavors crackers, cookies, and bread), and dill (flavors meats and used in pickles). Herb gardening allows gardeners to use herbs from their own garden for cooking, looks, and smell. Herb gardening will produce much fresher herbs with more flavor than store-bought herbs, and are a lot cheaper.” Courtesy of Organic Gardening

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Stimulus Payment delivery schedule

The information below is for those who still have questions about the economic stimulus package.

The IRS announced today, April 25th, that the payments will be four days early. Monday, the 28th will now be the first date.

Economic stimulus payments will be issued according to the last two-digits of the main filer’s Social Security number. People who use direct deposit also will be among the first to receive the payments starting May 2. Paper checks will be put in the mail starting May 16.

People who file a return after April 15 will receive their economic stimulus payment, but probably about two weeks later than the schedule shows. A return must be filed by October 15 in order to receive a stimulus payment this year. See the online calculator for an estimate of the amount you will receive.

DIRECT DEPOSIT

Last two SSN digits: Payment will be transmitted:
00 through 20 May 2
21 through 75 May 9
76 through 99 May 16

PAPER CHECK

Last two SSN digits: Payments will be mailed by:
00 through 09 May 16
10 through 18 May 23
19 through 25 May 30
26 through 38 June 6
39 through 51 June 13
52 through 63 June 20
64 through 75 June 27
76 through 87 July 4
88 through 99 July 11

Starting a Garden

Growing vegetables and flowers can be one of the most rewarding hobbies you can pursue. Gardening can satisfy your need for beauty, accomplishment and nourishment. Plus, it keeps me from snacking allowing me to shed a few pounds, from the winter weight gain if you know what I mean.

It’s important to plant your garden seeds at the right time, and the key is knowing when your area will see its last spring frost. You’ll sure be sorry if you put your long-awaited, warm season crops in the ground too soon, but it’s easy to determine when the danger of frost has passed. You just need to learn your location’s average last spring frost date.

To get started, find a good sunny location. Determine the size of the garden you would like to have. First thing I did was to get a soil sample, which you can do through your local Extension center. They have soil sample boxes available for use at no charge. One box (1.5 to 2 cups) is all the University lab needs for analyses. I just use a brown paper sack. Using a small shovel or soil probe, sample to a 6 inch depth. Take 12 or more random cores from each area of the lawn to be tested and remove the thatch and live plant material before breaking up the cores and mixing thoroughly in a dry plastic bucket. (Metal buckets contaminate the sample with micronutrients.) Take random samples from the lawn as a whole unless there is a need to sample problem areas separately. Air dry the sample overnight before sending. When you receive your results in the mail, they will send you a guide on how to read your results as well as how you can amend your soil accordingly to the results. If you don’t have time for this, I would recommend tilling the soil and then adding compost. This would be a great start.

Compost is one of the ways to garden organically. You definitely will appreciate the fertilizing and weed controlling benefits of compost. You could ask your city parks department if they sell compost, go to your local nursery, or make your own. It will take compost several months to decompose so you will have to wait to use your pile until then. I started mine last October and after removing the top several inches, most of the pile is ready for use. If you don’t have access to compost you could add some sphagnum moss to your soil. This will allow air to get to your roots.

Americans generate about 210 million tons (231 million short tons) of trash, or solid waste, each year. Most of this trash (57 percent) gets placed in municipal landfills. About 56 million tons (27 percent) is recovered through either recycling, in the case of glass, paper products, plastic or metals, or through composting, in the case of yard waste. Composting is a method for treating solid waste in which organic material is broken down by microorganisms in the presence of oxygen to a point where it can be safely stored, handled and applied to the environment. Composting is an essential part of reducing household wastes. It can be done inexpensively by every household and produces a product — finished compost or humus — that can benefit the environment as a natural fertilizer for gardening and farming.

Next, I remove any large size rocks that would impede my vegetables from growing out of the soil by simply picking them out. Then, I remove some of the smaller rocks with a rock rake. With some type of post, mark out your rows per your seeds, making sure to keep your rows at their given distance apart. Read the back of the packet or tag for specific instructions for how and when to plant.

Are you ready to Garden!

It may be hard to plant when it is raining constantly, but you can find slips of time to get going. Just make sure you are not planting in soil that holds water. Now is the time of year to get a soil sample. You can easily do this through your local extension center. Your soil should be a mixture of organic matter, sand, compost, etc. A good range for your soil ph is 6.0 – 6.5.
I have already planted potatoes, onions, beets, and peas in my regular garden and lettuce and spinach in a raised bed. I had a hard time trying to harden off my plants with all the wind, rain, and cool temperatures. After two long weeks, I am now ready. This weekend, I will be planting my cool weather crop plants, which include broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, and cauliflower. Find a few vegetables you love and give it a try. Having your own garden is a lot cheaper than buying produce at the store these days with soaring fuel prices. Good luck and good gardening!!