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A "learning process"

It seems I have made an embarrassing mistake about my herb patch. Ten months after growing what at first seemed like Vietnamese mint and a suspiciously lemon-minty basil, both bushes have flowered to reveal themselves lemon balm. Here's what I think happened. I planted two clearly different-looking sets of seeds back in spring. These put out two clearly different-looking sets of shoots. During the slug blight that I thought demolished all my plants, my plants had in fact died. The 'survivors' that remained in both patches, then very young, undifferentiated shoots, were these lemon balms, which I had not bought, and were likely residual to either my potting mix or the seed packets themselves.

The embarrassing part is how I didn't realise this for ten months. I know perfectly well what all three herbs look and taste like. The lower, spreading cluster that I mistook for Vietnamese mint had unusually small spear-shaped leaves instead of the much longer, less fuzzy leaves I would associate with the plant. This is compared to the taller-growing bush form of lemon balm that grew in the basil patch, having as a result much bigger, basil-sized leaves. I had suspected I was given the wrong type of each herb compared to what the packet said they should be, but not that I had grown an entirely different plant altogether. All is not lost. Since I know the lemon balm for what is is now, I feel less bad about just pulling it out of the ground. The lemon balm leaves still make an excellent pesto, and the flowers, which I am still pressing, will doubtless make a lovely smelling sugar for cookies by Christmas. In its place, more mustard greens.

Also be yanked out of the ground is that last tomato plant. I despair that the flowers will ever mature at this point. Bought a satchet of mizuna seeds that I am quite excited about, and would like to plant in its place. Mizuna is sowable in milder winter climates, and can be eaten year round. The other side of the box can be sowed with carrots, which have also seemed to sprout and grow in this weather, and will either yield carrot greens or roots, both of which I like to eat. The makeshift compost bin project is going well, so I am encouraged by the enriched soil these things will be going into.

Have begun what shall be a month-long experiment in salting eggs. The big glass jar I got for this purpose was overly big, being rather more suited for pickling some twenty eggs or more. I ended up using a plastic cookie jar with a convenient curve under its lid to help press down the eggs, having failed to sufficiently submerge the eggs in brine with all manner of small cups in the bigger jar. I do like having the big jar around though. It will be most useful for storing rice, which we just bought in bulk. Eggs seem very fragile to pickle. But I did make perfectly good gravlax for last New Year's, which is also fragile, so it can be done. Also found an apparently reliable source of food-grade sodium carbonate (light ash) online, which leads me to think homemade century egg may also be possible, but I'm not 100% sure. Pei dan seems to be a much more involved process than mere salted eggs.

Amazon is sending along my smaller jar, which should be a sufficient size for the cherry sake liquer experiment. That's an even longer process, being ideally a year's worth of steeping. Ah, winter. The time of pickling!


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 5th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
Mizuna! That should be exciting. :)

I need a tray and some grow pads so that I can grow microgreens indoors over the winter.
Dec. 8th, 2012 01:17 am (UTC)
I hope the mizuna takes better to growing than my other stuff this year!

I'm planning to recycle old takeout containers to do seeding in indoors. I have had a good deal of luck using old egg cartons as ghetto grow trays before too! You do need to double up the egg cartons (just cut off and line the segmented half with the cover), and thoroughly soak the trays overnight so they are damp before adding soil and seeds. But it works, and if you need to put seedlings into a bigger container later, you can just cut off segments and cut into the wet cardboard.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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