Tag Archives: cooking

Growing Your Own Thanksgiving Herbs

As I prepare for Thanksgiving this year, I can’t help but think of the beautiful Simon and Garfunkel song “Scarborough Fair.” I grow parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme in my Northern Virginia garden and today, the day before Thanksgiving, I can walk outside and harvest these herbs for my holiday meal. These are very easy to grow here and blend well into the typical suburban landscape. All of these with the exception of parsley are perennial shrubs that will remain in the garden year round.

Parsley

I use the curly parsley as a garnish and the flat leaf type in the Thanksgiving stuffing. Placing a heaping mound of cooked potatoes on a platter of green curly parsley makes the dish colorful. Fresh flat leaf parsley adds flavor to stuffing as well as to turkey leftover dishes such as turkey soup.parsley

In Northern Virginia, parsley can stay green above ground all winter long (I took this photo in January 2016). I always use parsley fresh; it does not dry well. Parsley is a biennial plant that will grow the first year from seed and bloom and set seed the following year. To create the illusion of having parsley in the garden every year all you have to do is scatter seeds every year. I started growing parsley years ago and now I have a string of plants just beneath the deck, in a place that gets morning sun and afternoon shade. Parsley likes organic matter, moisture, and morning sun or dappled sun. To harvest the leaves, cut outer, older leaves at the base with scissors (don’t pull), leaving the core or inner, younger leaves.

Sage

For Thanksgiving, sage can be used fresh or dried. I use it dry in the stuffing and biscuits, but I also use the fresh leaves as a garnish. Placing a ring of green sage leaves on a plate topped with cut up citrus fruit is a wonderful dessert after such a heavy meal.

variegated sage in September, changing from light green to gray

Sage is actually a small drought resistant shrub that remains above ground all year long in my garden. In the summer, it blooms small, purple flowers that attract beneficial pollinators. I use both the leaves as well as the flower spikes for flower arrangements. Leaves can be solid green, variegated with cream or yellow, gray, gray/green, blue/gray, purple, or tricolor (pink, green, and white leaves). No matter what the color, all the leaves are edible. You can pick leaves when you need them without altering the shape or you can take a branch from the back and strip and dry the leaves for the kitchen, including making tea. Sage plants prefer full sun and well-drained soil on the dryer side.

Rosemary

rosemaryI use dried rosemary in the stuffing and biscuits but I cut fresh branches for the turkey platter. I either put slices of turkey directly on the branches or place the branches on the side as a decoration.

Rosemary grows well in my garden because my plants are in full sun in a well-drained, terraced site. They want to grow into large shrubs but since I cut the branches throughout the season for drying, cut flower arrangements, or for garnish, I am able to keep them small. The woody shrubs remain above ground in the winter and tends to bloom when you would least expect it. My shrubs have been covered in small purple/blue flowers in December but just a few blossoms during the rest of the year.  There are many different types of rosemary; some more cold tolerant than others; some prostrate and some are upright. If you have had trouble growing rosemary in the past, Debaggio’s Herb Farm & Nursery in Chantilly, VA, suggests the following as cold-tolerant: ‘Arp’, ‘Hill Hardy’, ‘Salem’, ‘Nancy Howard’, and ‘Dutch Mill’. Once established, rosemary is drought resistant and deer resistant.

Thyme

I use dried thyme in the stuffing, biscuits, potato dishes, and green beans. Thyme can be used fresh or dried but if dried, the leaves have a more potent flavor. Drying herbs concentrates the oils, thus a stronger flavor.thyme

Thyme can be grown as a groundcover, small shrub, edging, or topiary or used in a rock garden. Thyme is a drought-tolerant, low-maintenance, full sun, woody shrub that prefers well-drained soil. In my garden, my English thyme serves as a groundcover to prevent erosion on a slope and it has spread to cover the soil, thus preventing any weeds. It remains above ground in the winter and blooms in the spring/summer, attracting bees.

Growing herbs is very easy. To be able to harvest fresh herbs for next Thanksgiving, consider buying these plants in the spring at your local nursery.

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme;

Remember me to the one who lives there,

For once she was a true love of mine.

Peg’s Picks: May 2016 Gardening Events in the Washington DC Metro Area

tulipsMay is the time to visit demonstration gardens, attend plant sales, and buy tickets for house and garden tours!

April 30 through May 28, Maryland House & Garden Pilgrimage, in Queen Anne’s, Harford, Talbot, Baltimore, and Charles County, tickets required. http://www.mhgp.org.

1, Sunday, Grow It Eat It Spring Open House noon until 4:00 pm hosted by the Montgomery County Master Gardeners at the Agriculture History Farm Park, 18410 Muncaster Road, Derwood, MD. Free but some classes require registration and fee.

1, Sunday, Glencarlyn Library Community Garden Plant Sale, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 300 S Kensington St, Arlington, VA. Hosted by the Master Gardeners of Norther Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

1, Sunday, Organic Vegetable Demonstration Garden Open House, 1 to 4 p.m., held in conjunction with the Open House at Potomac Overlook Regional Park, 2845 Marcey Rd, Arlington, VA. Hosted by the Master Gardeners of Norther Virginia. http://www.mgnv.org

1, Sunday, Takoma Park House and Garden Tour of 14 American Craftsman houses in the Willow-Park-Valley View neighborhood of Takoma Park, MD, 1:00 to 5:00 pm. Ticket required. http://www.historictakoma.org

4, Wednesday, Foraging for Wild Edibles. 7:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series, led by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and Master Gardeners. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990, free and no need to register. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks

6, Friday, Garden Fest in the Enid A. Haupt garden (south side of the Smithsonian Castle). 10:00 am to 2:30 pm. Sponsored by the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Free.  http://www.gardens.si.edu/whats-happening/garden-fest.html

6, Friday, 10 to 6; and 7, Saturday, 10 to 5, Flower-Mart at the Washington National Cathedral, 3101 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington DC, (202) 537-2937. Free. http://www.allhallowsguild.org/Flower-Mart/flower-mart/

6, Friday and 7, Saturday and 13 and 14, 9 to 5 pm. Lavender Field Farm Spring Herb Faire. Free admission and parking, rain or shine. 11300 Winfrey Road, Glen Allen, VA (804) 262-7167. http://www.lavenderfieldsfarm.com

7, Saturday, Ladew Garden Festival: Specialty Plants and Garden Ornaments, 10 to 4:00 pm, free. Ladew Topiary Garden, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD (410) 557-9570. http://www.ladewgardens.com

7, Saturday, Market Day, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. free, Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Avenue, Baltimore, MD. (410) 396-0180. http://www.cylburn.org

7, Saturday, Sweet Treat with Chile Heat, learn about chiles. Part of the Under the Arbor Series in the National Herb Garden. Presented by the Tidewater Unit of the Herb Society of America, free, walk in, no registration required. U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington DC 20002; (202) 245-4523. http://www.usna.usda.gov.

7, Saturday, Silver Spring Garden Club’s GardenMart plant sale, 9:00 am to 1:00 pm. Brookside Gardens, Visitors Center South Terrace, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD http://www.brooksidegardens.org

7, Saturday, Georgetown Garden Tour, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Tickets required. Headquarters is Christ Church, 31st and O Street NW. http://www.georgetowngardenclubdc.org

7, Saturday, 4:00 to 7:00 pm and Sunday, 8, noon to 5:00 pm. Capitol Hill Restoration Society’s Annual House and Garden Tour. Tickets required. Call (202) 543-0425 or visit http://www.chrs.org

7, Saturday, Transitioning from a spring to summer vegetable garden with topics on planting summer veggies, 10 to noon. Free garden talk followed by a Q&A session, Saturday in the Garden Series hosted by the Loudoun County Master Gardeners, Loudoun County Master Gardeners’ demo garden, Ida Lee Park, Leesburg, VA. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org or call (703) 777-0373.

7, Saturday, SpringFest and Plant Sale 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Admission is free to SpringFest, rest of the grounds are included with regular admission fee. Also on Sunday May 8 is SpringFest and Mothers’ Day Celebration, noon to 4:30 pm. Historic Londontown, 839 Londontown Road, Edgewater, MD (410) 222-1919. http://www.historiclondontown.org

6-8, Friday through Sunday, 12th annual DC Green Festival at the Washington DC Convention Center, times and admission fees vary.
http://www.greenfestivals.org/washington-d-c-2016-may-6-8.html#!1_photo_booth

10, Tuesday, All About Composting, 7:00 to 8:30 p.m., presented by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia, Barrett Library, 717 Queen St., Alexandria, VA. Free. Register at mgnv.org. Call 703-228-6414 or send an email to mgarlalex@gmail.com.

10, Tuesday, Superhero flowering shrubs and groundcovers for right size flower gardens, presented by Kerry Ann Mendez, sponsored by the Horticultural Society of Maryland. 7:30 pm. Cylburn Arboretum, 4915 Greenspring Avenue, Baltimore, MD. (410) 821-5561 members free, nonmembers fee. http://www.mdhorticulture.org

11, Wednesday, Mighty Alliums cooking demonstration by the Cook Sisters, noon to 1:30, fee and must register, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallan Avenue, Wheaton, MD. (301) 962-1470 http://www.brooksidegardens.org

11, Wednesday, Critter Control: Worms, Slugs, Bugs, Other. 7:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series, led by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and Master Gardeners. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990, free and no need to register. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks

12, Thursday, Mighty Alliums, cooking demonstration with the Cook Sisters, noon to 12:45 and repeated at 12:50 and again on Thursday May 26, free. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

12, Thursday, Bethesda Community Garden Club plant sale, 7:00 am to 1:00 pm., Bethesda Farm Women’s Market, 7155 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD. http://www.bethesdacommunitygardenclub.org

14, Saturday, Spring Garden Day — the Big Plant Sale, 9 am-3 pm. Sponsored by Friends of Green Spring. Free admission. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA.  Call 703-642-5173 for more information. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring/

14, Saturday, Garden Club of Chevy Chase Spring Garden Tour of 7 gardens in historic Chevy Chase, MD. Tickets required. Call (301) 657-1278 or for more information, e-mail gardenclubofchevychase@gmail.com

15, Sunday, Edible Tradition: Creating an Herb Knot Garden with Carol Allen, 11:00 am. At 2:00 pm, Carol will talk about Creating a Kitchen Herb Garden. Free lectures at Behnke Nurseries Garden Center but must register, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD; (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

18, Wednesday, Growing Food in Small Spaces. 7:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series, led by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and Master Gardeners. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990, free and no need to register. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks

19, Thursday, Farm to Fork: A Taste of Locally produced food from Anne Arundel County, 5 to 8 pm. ticket required, must register. Historic Londontown, 839 Londontown Road, Edgewater, MD (410) 222-1919. http://www.historiclondontown.org

21, Saturday, Sweet and Spicy: learn about roses and chiles, 1:00 to 4:00 pm. Part of the Under the Arbor series at the National Arboretum, presented by the Herb Society of America. Free, U.S. National Arboretum, 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington DC; (202) 245-4523. http://www.usna.usda.gov

21, Saturday, Beneficial Insects, 10:30 a.m. to noon. Presented by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Burke Library, 4701 Seminary Rd., Alexandria, VA. Free. Advance registration is requested at mgnv.org. Call 703-228-6414 or send an email to mgarlalex@gmail.com.

21, Saturday, A Year in the Life of a Vegetable Garden, 2:00 pm with Carol Allen. Free lectures at Behnke Nurseries Garden Center but must register, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD; (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

21, Saturday, Safely Using and Storing Garden Pesticides, Fertilizers and More with David Noto, 11:00 am. Free lectures at Behnke Nurseries Garden Center but must register, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD; (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

21, Saturday, Herb Garden Container workshop, fee and must register, offered at various times on Saturday. Hillwood Estate, Museum, and Gardens, 4155 Linnean Avenue, NW, Washington DC. (202) 686-5807. http://www.hillwoodmuseum.org

21, Saturday, container garden mania and master gardener plant sale at teaching garden at St. Benedict Monastery, 9:00 am to noon.  Hosted by the Prince William Master Gardeners. 9535, Linton Hall Road, Bristow, VA. Free but must register and dress for weather. Call (703) 792-7747 or e-mail: master_gardener@pwcgov.org

21, Saturday, and 22, Sunday, 1:00 to 5:00 pm, Beyond the Garden Gates Garden Tour of gardens in downtown Frederick and Baker Park, MD. Tickets required. Call (301) 600-2844 for more information.  http://www.celebratefrederick.com/events/garden-tour/

22, Sunday, 2-5 pm, Annual Shepherd Park Citizens Association Garden tour, ticket required. Self-guided tour of gardens in Shepherd Park, Colonial Village, and North Portal Estates in Northwest Washington DC. http://www.shepherdpark.org/garden.html or e-mail alexk@alumni.virginia.edu for more information.

22, Sunday, Why Choose Heritage Vegetables noon presentation with Carol Allen. Free lectures at Behnke Nurseries Garden Center but must register, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD; (301) 937-1100. http://www.behnkes.com

22, Sunday in the Organic Vegetable Garden, 1 to 4 p.m., Potomac Overlook Park, 2845 Marcey Rd., Arlington, VA. The garden is located beyond the Nature Center. Sponsored by the Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. No registration necessary. For questions, telephone 703-228-6414 or email mgarlalex@gmail.com. http://www.mgnv.org

25, Wednesday, Garden Structures; Vertical Gardening. 7:00 pm. Wednesdays in the Garden Series, led by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and Master Gardeners. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990, free and no need to register. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks

26, Thursday, Mighty Alliums, cooking demonstration with the Cook Sisters, noon to 12:45 and repeated at 12:50 and again on Thursday May 12, free. U.S. Botanic Garden, 245 First Street, SW, Washington DC; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov

28, Saturday, Baltimore Herb Festival 2016 year of the pepper, 9:30 am to 3:00 pm, Leakin Park, 1920 Eagle Park, Baltimore, outdoor rain or shine, fee but free parking, http://www.baltimoreherbfestival.com

The DC Parks and Recreation has a Summer Garden Workshop Series. More than 50 free workshops every Monday, Wednesday and various Saturdays from April 18th to September 28th. Focused on practical urban gardening and taught by the leaders of DC urban garden movement. Monday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Deanwood Rec – 1350 49th St. NE; Wednesday Classes: 6:30-8:30pm – Raymond Rec – 3725 10th St. NE; Saturday Classes: 10-12pm – Times and locations vary.  Check registration for more details:
http://bit.ly/UrbanGardeningPrograms

A full schedule flyer is at this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/node/1124742

For more info about all DPR Urban Garden Programs click on this link
http://dpr.dc.gov/service/urban-garden-programs

 

Peg’s Picks: March 2016 Gardening Events for the Washington DC Metro Area

Thursday, March 3, 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm, Seed Starting 101, by VCE Master Gardeners in Loudoun County, free. Loudoun County Public Library, Gum Spring Branch, 24600 Millstream Drive, Stone Ridge, VA 20105. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

Thursday March 3, 7:00 to 8:00 pm, All About Water Gardening, free lecture by Richard Koogle, vice president of Lilypons Water gardens, courtesy of Loudoun County Master Gardeners. Rust Library, 380 Old Waterford Road, NW Leesburg, VA 20176. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

Saturday, 3/5: Merrifield, Prune like a Pro Part 2; Fair Oaks, Night Gardens; Gainesville, Spring Color with Trees. Saturdays Sessions at Merrifield Garden Center, free lectures at 10:00 am in three locations: (M=Merrifield; FO=Fair Lakes; G=Gainesville). http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com.

Saturday, March 5, 11:00 am to noon, The Birth of a Rain Garden: From Start to Finish Garden Free lectures at Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD; (301) 937-1100; http://www.behnkes.com

Saturday, March 5, 2:00-3:00 pm. Working with Pollinators: How to Make a Home for Solitary Bees Garden. Free lectures at Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD; (301) 937-1100; http://www.behnkes.com

Saturday, March 5; Sunday, March 6; Friday, March 11; Saturday, March 12; and Sunday, March 13. Maryland Home and Garden Show, Maryland State Fairground, Timonium, MD. Admission fee; check website for times. http://www.mdhomeandgarden.com

Saturday, March 5, 10:30 to noon (Arlington location) and Saturday, March 12, 2:30 to 4:00 (Alexandria location). How to Prune Practically Anything. Bring your own tools because you also will learn how to sharpen tools and dress warmly for this outdoor session. Presented by VCE Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but register in advance at http://www.tinyurl.com/RegisterVCE If you have questions, call (703) 228-6414, e-mail mgarlalex.org, or see website http://www.mgnv.org.

Saturday, March 5, 10:00 to 11:00 am, Spring Garden Maintenance lecture. Free at Burke Nursery and Garden Centre, 9401 Burke Road, Burke, VA 22015; (703) 323-1188. http://www.burkenursery.com

Sunday, March 6, 1:30 to 2:30 pm, How and Whys of Botanical Nomenclature, by Lee Gordon. Part of the Harry Allen Winter Lecture Series at Green Spring Gardens, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. After lecture, meet presenter and enjoy refreshments. Fee and can register for individual topics or for all of the Sunday lectures. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312; (703) 642-5173. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Tuesday March 8, 7:00 to 8:30 pm, Herbs: From the Grocery Store to the Garden to the Kitchen. Barrett Branch Library, 717 Queen Street, Alexandria, 22314. Presented by VCE Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. If you have questions, call (703) 228-6414, e-mail mgarlalex.org, or visit http://www.mgnv.org. Free but register in advance at http://www.tinyurl.com/RegisterVCE

Wednesday March 9, 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Going Native: Tried and True Plants for the Landscape, Beatley Central Library, 5005 Duke Street, Alexandria, 22304. Presented by the VCE Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. If you have questions, call (703) 228-6414, e-mail mgarlalex.org, or visit http://www.mgnv.org. Free but register in advance at http://www.tinyurl.com/RegisterVCE

Thursday, March 10, noon to 12:45 pm; repeated at 12:50. Spring Roots Cooking Demonstration (potatoes, radishes, and turnips) by the Cook sisters, also repeated on Thursday, March 24, U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20002; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov.

Saturday, March 12 at 2:00 and again on Sunday, March 13 at 2:00 pm Start Now! Growing Potatoes, Onions, Asparagus — Cool Season Vegetables and More Garden Talks at Behnke Nurseries Garden Center, free, do not have to register. 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD; (301) 937-1100; http://www.behnkes.com

Saturday, 3/12: M, Dramatic Garden Makeovers; FO, Displays Ready for Prime Time; G, Spring Cleaning in the Garden. Saturdays Sessions at Merrifield Garden Center, free lectures at 10:00 am in three locations. (M=Merrifield; FO=Fair Laks; G=Gainesville).  http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com.

Saturday, March 12, Annual Gardening Symposium, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, Loudoun County Master Gardeners, Ida Lee Recreation Center, 60 Ida Lee Drive, Leesburg, VA 20176; fee and must register. http://www.loudounccountymastergardeners.org/events/annual-symposium

Saturday March 12, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Culinary Herbs, by VCE Master Gardeners in Loudoun County, free. Purcellville Library, 220 E. Main Street, Purcellville, VA 20132. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

Saturday March 12, 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm, Intensive Organic Vegetable Gardening Part I, free lecture by VCE Master Gardeners in Loudoun County. Philomont Community Center, 36592, Jeb Stuart Rd., Philomont, VA 20131. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

Sunday, March 13 at 2:00 pm (and again on Saturday, March 12 at 2:00). Start Now! Growing Potatoes, Onions, Asparagus — Cool Season Vegetables and More. Free Garden Talk at Behnke Nursery Garden Center, 11300 Baltimore Avenue, Beltsville, MD; (301) 937-1100; http://www.behnkes.com

Sunday, March 13, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Epic Tomatoes, by Craig LeHoullier. Part of the Harry Allen Winter Lecture Series at Green Spring Gardens. After lecture, meet presenter and enjoy refreshments. Can register for individual topics or for all; fee. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312. (703) 642-5173 http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Wednesday, March 16, noon to 1:30 pm, Spring Roots, Cooking Demonstration (potatoes, radishes and turnips) with the Cook sisters, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallen Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902; (301) 962-1400; fee and must register. http://www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside

Wednesday, March 16, 10:30 am-11:30 am. A Cultural Exploration of Chinese Gardens with Scott Rykiel. Ladew Gardens Spring lecture series, fee and must register. Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD 21111; (410) 557-9570. http://www.ladewgardens.com

Wednesday, March 16, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Seed Starting. Part of the Wednesdays in the Garden Series, led by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990, free and no need to register. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks

Saturday, March 19, Multiplying Garden Treasures: Propagating from Cuttings, 1:30 to 3:00 pm. Fee and must register. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312. (703) 642-5173  http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Saturday March 19, 2:00 to 3:00 pm, Intensive Organic Vegetable Gardening Part 2, free lecture by VCE Master Gardeners in Loudoun County, Philomont Community Center, 36592, Jeb Stuart Rd., Philomont, VA 20131. http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org

Saturday, March 19, Merrifield, Fragrant Gardens; FO, Get to Know Perennials; G, Drainage Solutions. Saturdays Sessions at Merrifield Garden Center, free lectures at 10:00 am in three locations. (M=Merrifield; FO=Fair Lakes; G=Gainesville). http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com.

Saturday, March 19, Plot Against Hunger Spring Garden Kick Off, 9: 00 am to 1:00 pm, St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 4000 Lorcom Lane at Military Road, Arlington, VA 22207; Learn about Arlington Food Assistance Center’s (AFAC’s) Plot Against Hunger Gardens and start you own garden. Learn about seed starting, straw bale and lasagna gardening, mulching, growing vegetables, herbs, and mushrooms, irrigation, rain barrels, composting, etc. RSVP to PlotAgainstHunger@afac.org by March 17. Free family event. http://www.afac.org

Saturday, March 19, 10:30 am to noon, Plant Propagation. Burke Branch Library, 4701 Seminary Road, Alexandria, 22304. Presented by the VCE Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but register in advance at http://www.tinyurl.com/RegisterVCE If you have questions, call (703) 228-6414, e-mail mgarlalex.org, or visit http://www.mgnv.org.

Sunday, March 20, 1:30 to 2:30 pm. Growing Summer Bouquets, by Lisa Zeigler. Part of the Harry Allen Winter Lecture Series at Green Spring Gardens. After lecture, meet presenter and enjoy refreshments. Can register for individual topics or for all; fee. Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road, Alexandria, VA 22312. (703) 642-5173 http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/parks/greenspring

Tuesday, March 22, 7:00 to 8:30 pm. Vegetable Gardening 2: Management and Maintenance, Fairlington Community Center, 3308 S. Stafford Street, Arlington, 22206. Presented by the VCE Master Gardeners of Northern Virginia. Free but register in advance at http://www.tinyurl.com/RegisterVCE If you have questions, call (703) 228-6414, e-mail mgarlalex.org, or visit http://www.mgnv.org

Wednesday, March 23, Fine Gardening Meets Fine Dining, Delectable Plants for the Home Landscape with Pandora Young. Part of the Ladew Gardens Spring lecture series, fee and must register. Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD 21111; (410) 557-9570. http://www.ladewgardens.com

Wednesday, March 23, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Designing your Garden. Part of the Wednesdays in the Garden, led by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990, free and no need to register. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks

Thursday, March 24, noon to 12:45 pm and repeated at 12:50 pm. Spring Roots Cooking Demonstration (potatoes, radishes, and turnips) by the Cook sisters, also repeated on Thursday, March 10, noon to 12:45 pm; repeated at 12:50. U.S. Botanic Garden, 100 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington DC 20002; (202) 225-8333. http://www.usbg.gov.

Saturday, March 26, Merrifield, Build the Lawn of your Dreams; FO, Growing Herbs; G, Growing Herbs 2:00 (same speaker and content as the 10:00 am session at FO) Saturdays Sessions at Merrifield Garden Center, free lectures at 10:00 am in three locations. (M=Merrifield; FO=Fair Lakes; G=Gainesville). http://www.merrifieldgardencenter.com.

Wednesday, March 30, 7:00 to 9:00 pm. From the grocery store to the garden to the kitchen. Part of the Wednesdays in the Garden series, led by Arlington Food Assistance Center volunteers and VCE Master Gardeners. Arlington Central Library, 1015 N. Quincy Street, Arlington VA; (703) 228-5990, free and no need to register. http://www.library.arlingtonva.us/events/garden-talks

Wednesday, March 30, The Right-size Flower Garden with Kerry Ann Mendez. Part of the Ladew Gardens Spring lecture series, fee and must register. Ladew Topiary Gardens, 3535 Jarrettsville Pike, Monkton, MD 21111; (410) 557-9570. http://www.ladewgardens.com

Thursday, March 31, noon to 2:00-4:00 pm, Dealing with Deer and other Mammal Pests in Your Garden, Brookside Gardens, 1800 Glenallen Avenue, Wheaton, MD 20902; (301) 962-1400; fee and must register. http://www.montgomeryparks.org/brookside

New Book: Homegrown Herb Garden

IMG_5811Homegrown Herb Garden: A Guide to Growing and Culinary Uses serves a dual purpose: the book is an introduction to 15 culinary herbs for gardening novices and is an inspiring cookbook for experienced gardeners to incorporate herbs into meals, desserts, and drinks.

Ann McCormick, an herb expert and long-time Texan gardener, relays her experience with growing basil, bay laurel, chervil, cilantro, dill, French tarragon, Italian parsley, lemongrass, mint, onion chives, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, thyme, and winter savory. For each herb, she describes common varieties, care and feeding, harvesting, and tips on growing the plants in small spaces. To use basil as an example, Ann recommends ‘Spicy Globe’ for an “extra flavor kick,” Thai basil for Asian foods, and ‘Purple Ruffles’ or ‘Red Rubin’ for vinegars. For planting in smaller pots, small-leaf varieties such as ‘Windowbox’ or ‘Italian Cameo’ work well.

A graduate from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles, Chef Lisa Baker Morgan describes the culinary uses for each of the 15 herbs. She prefaces the recipes with combinations and cooking techniques but these are not just traditional combinations one would see in an herb book. Chef Morgan describes how the herb pairs with vegetables, meats, seafood, fruits, dairy products, oils, sauces, and other herbs. For example, basil is “wonderful with hydrating fruits such as raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and melons …” and “balance the sweetness of grilled or pan-fried fruit with a simple syrup.” Several recipes are listed for each herb from a wide variety of cuisines. Instead of the usual pesto, basil is used in “kobocha and coconut soup with Thai basil leaves” or “zucchini and basil soufflé.”  It is a joy to see how the herbs can be used in novel ways and with different cuisines.

Ann and Chef Morgan have done a wonderful job of pairing herbs in the garden with dishes in the kitchen. Published by Quarry Books, Homegrown Herb Garden: A Guide to Growing and Culinary Uses is designed to inspire people to grow culinary herbs and try new recipes. To learn more about the authors, visit their own websites: Ann blogs at http://www.herbncowgirl.com and Chef Morgan writes at http://www.chefmorgan.com.