Monday, August 4, 2008

Out with the old; Basil harvest

Despite the fact that each plant still had one or two green tomatoes, I balanced the possible future yield against the amount of space being used and the ragged, sad look of the plants, and decided to rip out all the tomato plants. What a pile of vines! These will go in the compost pile. The two spindly hot pepper plants (one ancho and one cayenne) are now the only vegetables in that bed, so I will be renovating the soil with some worm casings (yes, I have a worm composter) and some organic fertilizers, then planting fall crops. I also saved two little shoots from the tomato plants I removed, and may try to start two new plants for some fall tomatoes. My fall squash, kale and collards that were planted in the other bed last week have germinated and are starting to grow.

Yesterday was a great day to harvest basil, and I wanted you to see this colander full of beautiful, fresh basil leaves. Pinching off the tops of the basil branches helps the plant to bush out and keep growing, so I did as thorough a harvest as I could. Since basil does not keep very well on its own, I pureed it with high quality olive oil in my food processor, then scooped it into the sections of an ice cube tray. Once it freezes, I will pop out the cubes and store them in the freezer. They are a great addition to sauces and soups, or can be used to make pesto later in the year.

An update on the coop: The big ladies continue to pick on poor Lena, but she seems to be adapting. I hate to see her struggle with the pecking order. Maybe in a month or so, when she starts laying and fills out, things will get better. I can't wait to see what color her eggs are!