Thursday, September 24, 2020

Planting Herb Seeds in the Fall

Herbs hang from the rafters on the side porch, while others are dried and stored in glass jars or in the freezer. Herb vinegars are mellowing, while jellies and wreaths of herbs wait to be made. As the days become shorter and nights a little cooler, thoughts turn to winter.

Still there is time to plant herbs in the garden , not all herbs, but herbs that prefer cool weather and some perennials. Parsley, Chervil and Cilantro all prefer cool temperatures. Parsley is a biennial living two years before dying. Choose curly or the more flavorful Italian Flat Leaf. Soak the seeds overnight to hasten sprouting. Depending upon your area and the severity of the winter, one should be able to get several cuttings before the plant dies back for winter. Mark where you plant it so you won't forget where it is in the Spring. 

Chervil should be planted in filtered shade in rich soil. This herb likes plenty of water. Thin seedlings to 9-12 inches apart. For a good supply plant every two weeks. Chervil is most flavorful during cool weather and just before flowering. Seedlings can be transplanted just before a hard frost and placed inside a cold frame for use through winter. In the Spring , remove the cover , the plant will grow two feet tall and burst into blooms.

Coriander seeds which produce Cilantro or Chinese Parsley should be sown every two weeks until frost. Harvest the young leaves when the plants are six inches tall , picking only the top few leaves to encourage growth. 

Dill and Fennel should be planted directly into the ground, preferring rich, well drained soil and full sun. Thin the plants to 12-18 inches apart and keep well watered. Harvest the young leaves the same way as Cilantro. If Fall plantings of Chervil , Dill and Fennel go to seed, you may be treated to seedlings of the herb come Spring.

Cool weather is necessary for Florence Fennel ( finocchio ) to form a bulb. How soon cold weather arrives will determine the size of the edible bulb base. Very cold weather will stop the bulb's growth. Still there is time to enjoy the leaves of both varieties of Fennel.

Plant perennial herb seeds in rows with identifying markers, including Agrimony, Lady's Bedstraw, Salad Burnet, Catnip, Hyssop, Lovage, Sweet Cicely and Sweet Woodruff. I have planted Lavender Seeds in the Fall with a covering of leaves or pine needles. Leave the area undisturbed until June, and then gently brush the leaves away to find a small forest of Lavender seedlings. Transplant to an area where they can grow to size. 

Monday, September 21, 2020

Fall in the Herb Garden

Autumn is a busy time in the herb garden. What with harvesting and drying, dividing plants and deciding which plants to over winter indoors, which to protect outdoors and which to leave alone.
Basil is an annual and this time of year it is trying to go to seed and preparing to die. To prolong basil as long as possible, pinch , pinch , pinch the flower heads off that are trying to form. Once the flowers are allowed to form the plant will stop growing.

Basil loves warm weather, the hotter the better, so be aware of frost warnings. The first frost will kill any basil plant left unprotected. If frost is called for harvest the leaves immediately. Basil loses much of its flavor when dried, so freeze the leaves ...they will turn brown , but will retain their flavor when used in tomato sauce and other cooked dishes.

Another way to save the flavor of basil is by turning the fresh leaves into pesto, then freezing the pesto in ice cube trays. Store the frozen pesto cubes in a freezer bag, removing a cube at a time as needed. 

A basil stem or two can be broken off a plant, brought indoors and placed in a container of water. After a week or two , roots should form. Plant in a commercial potting mix and place in a sunny window. This will ensure fresh basil through winter.

Chive plants should be divided in the fall. When dividing also plant two pots with six or seven bulbs in each. Bring one pot indoors now to provide chives through December. Leave the other outside. In December , reverse the pots. Place in a sunny window and by January a new supply of chives should be ready for use. In the Spring plant both pots of chives back in the ground.

Depending upon the severity of the winter and the age of the plant, judicious cuttings can be taken through December and January from thyme, winter savory and oregano. Some herbs are deciduous, which means they lose their leaves in the winter, Sage is one. Harvest sage lightly in September  the first year. In following years two cuttings are feasible. I have an old, woody sage and manage to get a few leaves in November for the Thanksgiving Turkey and a few more in December for the Christmas Goose.

Lemon Balm, Salad Burnet, Catnip, Agrimony, Our Lady's Bedstraw, Sweet Cicely, Wormwood and Mint are all perennial herbs that can be divided in either the Fall or Spring.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WBIR Emily Stroud Comes for a Visit

It isn't everyday one gets to be interviewed for the local news, so it was with much excitement this morning when WBIR News 10's van came to Our Southern Home and Garden. Emily Stroud and cameraman Jim Martin were here to interview Mike for a segment on WBIR's Live at Five at Four Show. My husband creates cabins from matchsticks and has recreated most of the cabins, churches and buildings around the loop in Cades Cove. For Mike and I the anticipation was that of a child on Christmas Eve awaiting a visit from St. Nick.
Mike, who is very shy , was immediately put to ease by Emily and in no time he was telling her about his matchstick hobby and the reason for her visit , his Cades Cove Matchstick cabins.
Next came questions and pictures regarding the process. "How long does it take? What materials do you use? What do you plan on doing with the cabins?"
One by one each matchstick building was recorded onto film, with Stroud and Miller down on their knees filming inside the schoolhouse to capture the tiny desks and blackboard hidden inside. The interview concluded with Stroud in front of one of the buildings filming the 'tease' for the upcoming show.
The good Lord willing and 'the creeks don't rise' Mike's segment will air on WBIR's Live at Five at Four on Tuesday August 19th. For Emily and Jim it was just another day on the job, but for us Around Our Southern Home and Garden, it was a memorable day. Thank you Emily and Jim.
To see Mike's cabins today go to

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

How to Fix a Noisy Air Conditioner/ DIY Tuesday

Noisy window air conditioners can be very annoying especially if the unit is in a bedroom. Noises can easily be isolated and repaired by the home owner in most cases. There are a few problems that would require a qualified service technician, but for the most part the following are the most common problems causing a noisy window air conditioner.
Problem 1. Make sure the air conditioner is secure to hold down on unnecessary noise. The window unit should be attached to the window with screws or tape. Most window air conditioners do have places to attach them with screws, securing them to the window frame. This will hold down on vibrations from the unit. Another place the air conditioner might create noise would be the window glass. This would happen if the glass is loose. If this is the case tape or re glaze the glass to the frame to keep it from vibrating. Problem 2.Check the front cover to ensure it is snug and not loose. The front cover can be noisy if not put on correctly. If the prongs are broken and the front cover will not fit snugly one can use tape once again, to quiet it down.
Problem 3.The air filter when dirty can cause a restriction in the system which can cause the unit to freeze. This in turn can cause melting water to hit the fan and can become quite disturbing. Keep the filter changed on a regular basis to keep this from happening. This can happen too if the drain is stopped up. The solution for this is to unstop the drain or drains in the air unit with a pipe cleaner. Problem 4. Check the fan that is located inside the air unit. Simply take the cover off and turn the fan by hand. The fan should spin freely and unobstructed. Air conditioner fans attract all kinds of debris. General maintenance for the fan check and clean it once a year before starting the unit. Keep logs when cleaning and replacing any parts learning the basics on ones air conditioner will save money as well as time on unnecessary service calls. Problem 5.Noise coming from water or rain hitting the top of the unit. Home Depot among other hardware stores sell a noise reducing mat that sits ontop of the window unit to stop the sound of water dripping.
Learning the basics of air conditioners is important and can save one money on unnecessary service calls. Common sense will reign most of the time when repairing any air unit. That is how we stop noisy window air conditioners , Around Our Southern Home and Garden.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Sunday Morning Prayer

I have said this prayer every day since I was a child. Morning Prayer My God I offer you this day Everything I shall think or do or say, United with what was done, On earth by Jesus Christ thy son. Amen

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Dessert Trends

Desserts. We love them. As children we were bribed to finish everything on our plates with the threat of ,' no dessert' , if we didn't. Many a pea or Brussel sprout gave its life so a child could have jello or chocolate pudding for dessert. Desserts have come a long way since then. Trends come and go. Mini desserts are becoming more and more popular. Sometimes we are counting calories, other times we just want a little taste of something sweet. Enter the mini desserts.
These little bite size wonders have become so popular that is hard to find a chain restaurant that doesn't have them on the menu. No longer do we have to choose between , cheesecake, key lime pie, hot fudge cake or strawberry shortcake. We can have bite sizes servings of all our favorites and not feel guilty. At the other end of the dessert spectrum are the giant desserts.
I was in Springfield, MO, with a group of friends. One of my friends didn't care for her entrée so she ordered the chocolate, brownie, cookie, fudge, something or other for dessert. Much to her embarrassment four waiters loudly announced her choice as they carried her Giant dessert through the dining room to our table. They attracted so much attention that the other diners came over to out table to see who had ordered the dessert monstrosity. It was too funny for the rest of us, but my poor friend couldn't eat a bite. Howevere, giant desserts are fun to share with the family or close friends.
Cupcakes. I think the cupcake trend , while still popular, may have reached its peak. Cupcakes are perfect for singles or couples or when doesn't want an entire cake but still wants that warm, fuzzy feeling we remember getting from Mom's homemade cupcakes. I love the cupcake shops that sell nothing but cupcakes in an array of flavors. Cupcakes fall into the category of Nostalgia Desserts, including warm chocolate chip cookies, homemade apple pie, bread pudding and Red Velvet Cake.
These desserts bring back memories to Mom and Granny , home and love. Often these desserts might have a new twist but more often than not they are the chef's traditional family recipe. Is there a restaurant in America that doesn't offer ice cream? From fast food chains to fancy sit-down's ice cream is the number one favorite. We love ice cream and as ethic restaurants began opening the owners soon came to the realization the easiest way to satisfy our need for a sweet ending was to offer ice cream. Now we have Mango Ice Cream in Indian Restaurants, Green Tea in Japanese and Red Bean in Chinese.
Today , Around Our Southern Home and Garden' wi we will pull out the hand crank ice cream machine to make homemade peach ice cream. Yum ! Yum !!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Six Signs of a Failing Fuel Pump Friday/ Automobile

How do you know if the fuel pump on the vehicle you are driving is going bad? What are some of the classic symptoms of a failing electric fuel pump? Here are six symptoms that will help determine if a fuel pump is failing. #1. Intermittent operation, especially when the engine is hot. If the vehicle starts fine but after a few miles of driving begins to sputter, then the fuel pump could be going bad. This may only occur when the engine is hot, so let the engine idle for at least twenty minutes before checking this particular problem.
2. A screeching sound when the engine is engaged is another symptom. This sound could vary depending on the vehicle but the sound will be annoying. The sound will just happen when the engine is first engaged and then disappear. 3. A slow or no starting vehicle is another early warning sign of a bad fuel pump. If one's vehicle starts slow or will not start at all and you know that the starter and battery
are good, then the next logical part could be the fuel pump. Starting and acceleration of one's vehicle depends heavily on the amount of fuel that is being supplied. 4. Engine misfire at highway speeds which cause the vehicle to have problems for a couple of miles. Hesitant or sluggish accelerations is one of the signs that the vehicle is either out of gas or that the fuel pump is failing. 5. Engine loses power when climbing hills or pulling a trailer. This too can be a sign of a failing fuel pump as the extra power needed comes from the gas that is supplied to the engine.
6. While someone is turning the ignition key have someone else listen to the gas tank for the pump motor to engage. This is one way to determine if the fuel pump is operational or not. The fuel pump will sound like the whirling of an electric motor if it is engaged properly. While each of these are symptoms of a failing fuel pump they can also be symptoms of any other part of the fuel system assembly. Remember the fuel system depends on the pump, filters, fuel injectors, spark plugs and so on.
Doing any job yourself is good but when in doubt always have your vehicle double checked by a certified mechanic preferably one who you know is honest. This is how we care for our car ,' Around Our Southern Home and Garden'.