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Right in my Own Backyard - Harvesting Herbs - by Brandt Carter
posted: Nov. 11, 2021

Right in my Own Backyard header

Harvesting Herbs
Take your cue from the birds these days. They are busy getting ready for winter; we should too. Besides putting away my birdhouses, patio furniture, and wooden swing, I take stock of my yard to see what I can gather to create memories of summer for the coming winter.
I collect the seeds from my marigold and zinnias so this year's blossoms yield seeds for next year's plantings. I carefully put them in envelopes, label and date them, then tuck them away in my kitchen pie safe until next Spring.
The most important Fall task is harvesting the last herbs of the season. I don't dry many herbs because I can buy those. I bring my rosemary inside to winter in the house; I cut all the basil I can, put the leaves in bags, and freeze them. Basil is a flavorful addition to winter dinners: try mixing cooked macaroni, butter, tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese, and then just before serving, crumble the still-frozen basil into the mixture. This easy recipe needs no exact measurement - it's a wonderful remnant of summer.
I also pick all the lemon verbena and make my potent liquor. I use a quart jar and pack it 1/3 full of verbena leaves. Fill the rest of the jar with vodka and a whole sliced lemon. Let this steep for a month and then strain. Add sugar to taste (about 3/4 cup). This is a wonderful after dinner liquor poured over ice with a topping of cream. It always keeps me warm on a cold winter's night.
Don't let Autumn slip by without gathering treasures from your backyard. If you don't have herbs, there are always nature's gifts to save for the next season. Look for colorful leaves you can press or strew on a table, branches of berries to add to flower arrangements, and dried flowers that can be tucked into wreaths.

Brandt Carter, artist, herbalist, and naturalist, owns Backyard Birds at 2374 E. 54th Street. Visit her web site Email your bird questions to
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