Oregano Harvest

oregano-plant

For me, the best part of summer is the opportunity to plant and harvest my own produce. This year, I’m growing purple and sweet basil, mint, thyme and horseradish. I bought the basil; the mint and thyme are perennials– they came back from last year. And my mother-in-law gave me the horseradish.

I also planted heirloom tomatoes, yellow squash and oregano from seed.

I’m particularly excited about those. When you grow something from nothing, you become invested. It’s always exciting every step of the way, tending to the plants and watching them mature. In a way, the whole process is kind of unbelievable. When it’s finally time to pick the ripe tomatoes off the vine and cut back the oregano, I’m so careful not to waste even one bit of the precious harvest.

We have the luxury of going to the supermarket and choosing from the aisles so many varieties of fruits and vegetables. It’s easy to lose perspective on where it all came from. Growing my own vegetables makes me think twice about the value of our food.

My oregano is ready to harvest. For best potency, it should be cut back right before it begins to flower. Dry that harvest and have the aromatic herb all year round. Cutting the plant back encourages new growth, so it continues to produce throughout the summer.

oreagano-harvest

Oregano is a purple flowering perennial herb plant in the mint family. It’s native to western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean. It can grow up to 30 inches tall!  The herb thrives in a hot dry climate but is versatile and will do well in other conditions. There are many varieties of oregano with flavors that are spicy, sharp and even sweet.

Some people choose to hang dry their herbs. You need to place the cuttings in a dry, warm well-ventilated room for one week. I don’t have a room with such conditions so I oven dry herbs. While you loose a little flavor oven drying, it’s a time saver and you can be sure the herb is free from contaminants.

oven-dried-oregano

Directions for oven drying oregano:

  1. Set the oven to 150 degrees
  2. Cut two thirds of the oregano plant
  3. Thoroughly wash the herbs and place it on a cookie sheet.
  4. Place the oregano in the oven. It should take 30 minutes to dry but check often. You don’t want it to burn.
  5. Remove from the oven and let it sit for 10 min.
  6. Over the tray, crumble the leaves by running your hand down the stems. The leaves should fall off very easily. Transfer into a tight seal herb container.

 

Simple as that!

tagged in gardening

Grams of the Week

Here’s a recap of the best instagrams of last week. If you want the day to day follow me here!

Rockaway BBQ

There’s so much fun happening like BBQ’s and beach days that I haven’t been keeping up with my grams of the week. This past weekend my friends Keith and Naomi had an awesome party… with tons of food! I brought a macaroni salad which seemed to be a hit because all of it went. Summer is great!

oil change

Someone needs and oil change.

echinacea

The garden is thriving and I often see people taking photos of it. You have know idea how much pleasure that brings me, lol! Since the heat wave I’ve been watering a lot. I guess I can’t complain because before that I barely had too. Keep your plants and trees hydrated!

fan mail

This shot is from two weeks ago but I had to include!!! I got fan mail!

tagged in instagram

License to Prune

citizen tree pruner nyc

It’s official. I graduated and I’m now a New York City Citizen Tree Pruner! I have the authority to prune any tree in NYC that’s been planted by the parks department after two years of its installation and any tree outside of a conservatory. So, If you see me in front of your house with a pole-saw cutting your tree, please don’t call the cops.

Since I last wrote about the class, I’ve learned extensively about the importance of street trees, the many dangers facing trees in our city and how to recognize and remedy those problems. I learned the basic biology of a tree and how to identify the 16 different trees that are planted in our five boroughs. We were taught how to report a problem
with a tree, request a new tree or petition for a tree pit expansion on the parks website. You don’t need a citizen pruner license to submit requests. If you know of a damaged or dead tree, report it here.

Session three, tree biology and identification was the most interesting to me. I find myself walking around town on the way home from the gym or the supermarket staring at trees; alternate buds, simple leaf form with an oval shape, little ridges, glossy leaves, showy flowers… it’s a Callery Pear! My obsession with tree identification as turned a new corner. My husband and I be in the car and play “name that tree”. With only a minute or so at a red light it becomes a challenge to identify the correct species… unless it’s a London Plane tree. It’s unique “camo” bark is a dead giveaway! I have
to remember to bring my trusty citizen pruner manual with me in the car. If I can’t identify a tree on the road, it drives me nuts. And in turn, annoying Matt. He’ll tell me I’m not allowed to talk anymore until we get home – tree enthusiast gag order.

I received a letter from  Rockaway Park resident Herbert Coles and learned he too is a citizen tree pruner! In fact, there are at least three of us. Clare Hilger, Secretary of the Rockaway Beach Civic association graduated this summer as well!  We’ll all have to get together for a tree pruning excursion. There are so many trees in
Rockaway that are in great need of some pruning TLC.

If you have a passion for pruning, value our urban forest, and want to contribute to the betterment of our community, consider becoming a citizen tree pruner! Visit treesny.org/citizen-pruners-stewardship/ for the next course schedule. In addition to the Citizen Tree Pruner course, Trees New York hosts many volunteer outings for adults and children. Some include: Tree bed clean up and soil cultivation; a tree watering outing; a mulching day; and join the Trees New York group for tree pit gardening events which they host in various locations around the city.

For more information about Trees New York and their volunteer programs vist treesny.org. Find them on facebook.com/TreesNewYork/ or follow oninstagram @treesny.

see-caption-in-email
Commissioner Mitchell Silver was the special guest speaker at our rooftop graduation ceremony which was held at the The Arsenal Rooftop garden in Central Park.

tagged in garden, trees

Chirpy

Disclaimer: One week I’m writing about coconut oil and the next this. I hope you guys don’t think I’ve totally lost of my mind…

It was an hour before my parents were arriving to go out to Bungalow Bar for a Father’s Day brunch when a friend of mine texts saying “There’s a hatchling bird on the cement in front of Key Food. It can’t even lift its head.” My stomach got sick.

I took a few minutes, “Am I willing to go through this?” I don’t know how I often find myself in these situations. Deciding whether or not I’m going to expend the physical and emotion energy in an attempt to save an animal’s life.  But here I was… again. I blindly ran over with a box to get the bird, not showered and not ready to celebrate with my father.

I stepped slowly and carefully once I turned the corner on 90th by CVS. Everyone else was walking fast, not looking at the ground. Any second the bird could’ve been crushed. I spotted him and hurried over. I was shocked at his vulnerability and fetal appearance. He was maybe two days old. The hatchling looked like a miniature prehistoric dinosaur.

I couldn’t find my heating pad so I ran back to CVS but without my wallet – I wasn’t

clear-minded. I went home, grabbed some cash, headed back yet again and started welling up at the register. I was so stressed.

Matt was home but working all day so he watched Chirpy while I was with my parents. My mind kept wandering and wondering about our new hatchling.

We read about feeding and basic care. Using wet mushed cat food on a skewer, we fed Chirpy and he was eating and using the bathroom. I’ve actually done this before. Well, I helped my sister Natalie when we were kids. She saved two birds and feed them in a similar way. Squawker, our crow after his release would come and visit the kitchen window, saying hello (squawk! squawk!) and bringing us little presents. Naively, I thought that Chirpy would fill with feathers, learn to fly and maybe even come back to visit me while I sat outside having my morning coffee.

We determined that Chirpy was a sparrow or a starling. His skin was translucent. It was surreal seeing his chest move up and down. Sometimes the universe gives us an opportunity to take a step back, for me this was a reminder of how delicate and precious all life is. And a reminder that there is a whole world happening around me, outside of my own little bubble.

Things took a turn for the worse Tuesday afternoon – 36 hours after we took Chirpy in. He stopped eating. I tried every half hour,  ignoring all my responsibilities for the day. He passed in the afternoon at 4:35pm. It was exhausting but I have no regrets with Chirpy. He was a special little gift.

RIP Chirpy.

I made a little memorial where we buried Chirpy in the yard

I made a little memorial where we buried Chirpy in the yard

tagged in birds, nature