“The ground is terrible here. You can’t grow anything decent in this dirt!” Years ago, that was my dad’s pronouncement when he assessed the state of affairs in my sister Janice’s garden close to our house in Florida.

True, in a land where juicy oranges, plump grapefruit, and palm trees flourish, you’re not going to find an abundant harvest of corn, lima beans, and tomatoes, vegetables Dad was used to growing.

“Let’s get some chicken manure in here and see what happens.” And so he roto-tilled the manure into what he saw as pitiful soil, hoping it would yield a hardy, Pennsylvania-type harvest. He and Mother planted squash and beans. “Now, we’re talking,’” he remarked, looking at divots where Mom had sown bean seeds.

 

Where we live now, pines, palms, and oaks abound. Yet, our soil is still too sandy for veggies, common in the mid-Atlantic. This year in our new community, husband Cliff has put on his farmer jeans and planted beans, surrounding them with marigolds to stave off insects.

 

Herbs, not beans, are my “thing”!

Chives, rosemary, and mint have thrived in my herb “tray,” sitting by an aloe plant (on the left), along with basil, and a recent addition, the long, green-leafed turmeric, a gift from son Joel.

 

Recently, I’ve fallen in love with turmeric (right of basil), mostly for its health benefits.

 

The label on the dry variety says:

Naturally golden in color, turmeric does double duty, adding both heady flavor and golden color. Use to add Eastern flair to traditional curry, rice and chicken dishes.” Turmeric, an anti-oxidant, is widely known for its anti-inflammatory properties and as an aid in breathing.

 

My son has showed me how to “harvest” the herb, pulling out the green leaves to unearth the bulb, cut off what I need and push the bulb back into the ground, replacing the leafy top. I’ve added turmeric to tomato sauce, garnished with basil for contrast and taste.

 

Applesauce is a nice pairing with spaghetti dishes, especially topped with cinnamon, which of course I don’t grow!

 

Last week, still on my “turmeric” kick, I added its taste to trout. The flavors would probably have marinated better baked, but I chose to pan fry. (I stay away from firing up the oven in the summertime!)

Trout Turmeric Lemon

 

 

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating,” so they say!

 

By most any standard, our beans and my collection of herbs is modest. Serious gardeners  would not consider it anything to brag about, that’s for sure. My dad, who farmed acreage, wouldn’t be too impressed.

But it gives us pleasure, nonetheless.

 

 

During the pandemic, gardening as a hobby or pastime has flourished: People have time on their hands, gardening expands life beyond the four walls of their homes and is a means of creative expression, which this article from Farm and Dairy suggests.

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By all means, find this refreshing post on Susan Weidener’s blog: Pandemic Gardening and Nature’s Eternal Lessons by Marilyn Gilpin, a balm for the soul.

 

 

Here is the recipe for Lemony Turmeric Tea Cake. Thank you, Lorrie!


If you are a gardener, what do you grow?

Your favorite herb?  How do you use it?

Any gardening tips to add?

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