Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Herb drying time: dinner in a bowl. Eclipta

This morning I hollered out to husband and son: "There are two plates clean. If you want to eat something, come now!"

They both cracked up.

At this time of year, we've got two herb drying lines set in the warm upstairs finished attic space, and two short ones in my office on the second level. There are wicker trays and baskets set around on any flat surface in the house ... and I run out of baskets and take over the dinner plates.

This morning the chiso was dried and I consolidated the basil onto one plate. Hence ... two usable plates.

I've got three types of mint drying: peppermint, spearmint and another sort that has rounder, thicker, slightly fuzzy leaves. They'll each make tea or can be blended. Marjoram, oregano, thyme, sage, catnit, catnip and catnip, also catmint.

Eclipta is one of the new herbs we're growing this year.

There's an 8 foot line of Eclipta plants drying; it's the second harvesting. Eclipta alba is an Indian herb. As a tea it's good to keep one's mood steady (ie good for 'stress disorders'). It's also supposed to encourage head hair growth (don't know what part of the plant or how to use).

When Chris originally looked online for information, he came back with it being an annual that grew about a foot tall and it should be harvested when the plant started to have flowers and/or set seed. Don't believe this! When the first flowers started to appear - when the plants were about 12" height - I figured that if I cut them off - much like clipping back basil - they'd branch and grow more.

This guess proved correct. They branched more, and I clipped more. I did the clipping in a semi-organized fashion: I clipped plants in both planting locales once, then watched that nothing died right off, noted all put on new growth and did a more severe clipping of plants in one locale three weeks later. Well, everything has continued to grow. But - and this is important - the plants that did not get the second clipping did put on new growth but also sent out 1/2" diameter flowers in their axils (short white petals with large multi-pistil disc centre) and these began to go to seed (in place, they look like tiny black balls packed in a circle - they are slightly sticky): the leaves also started to change their shade of green to a more yellow-green. Yesterday we harvested the plants that were completing their life cycle; dry stems and leaves (I should have kept the roots too, but they were covered in soil, so I clipped them off. I may go out and pick them up, now that the soil can be shaken off. They ranged between 18" - 24" in height. The seeds are in a dish drying.

There'll be more basil clipped this evening. Also, the peppermint is taking over the foot spaces in the path it's already taken over, so I've got to clip more.

The boys better eat fast.

I forgot to mention that the small plates are for drying seeds. Oh, did I mention that one large wicker tray is full of stems of swiss chard seeds drying?

Best regards to all,

Why's Woman

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