I’m so far managing to keep on top of the allotment weeds with a little-and-often approach. I think I’ve finally learnt that even if the beds don’t look too bad, it’s worth running the hoe over them anyway to take out all those tiny seedlings that you don’t really notice, but will take over the plot if left unattended. It’s like any chore, keep on top of it and don’t let it get out of hand and then it’s never really much of a chore. Easier said than done though.
After my weeding chores, planting some last-minute buy sugar snap peas, and refleecing the carrots yet again (there’s not much left of my fleece tunnels now, the wind has ripped them to shreds) I was feeling a bit frustrated at not yet having anything to harvest. I normally would by now, but most of the early summer crops, i.e. broad beans, small beetroot, early potatoes, garlic, and strawberries, are almost ready but just not quite. So I decided to pull up a couple of spring onions and then harvest the one thing I do have a lot of – oregano. Not the most exciting harvest in the world, but best to make the most of it while it’s there.
I started out with one small plant in my herb bed, and over the years it has flowered and self seeded itself all the way through, and I now have masses of it. I’d never be able to use it all quick enough while it’s fresh. So I dry it.
This is my makeshift herb drier. A coat hanger with elastic bands wrapped around to hold the bunches of herbs on. You could tie the bunches together with twine or string, and then tie them up somewhere to look more aesthetically pleasing, but as the stems dry they shrink, and then sometimes they slip out. I’m hoping the elastic bands will work better.
They look quite good hanging up with my lantern fairy lights, and make the space smell fantastic.
The leaves which were stripped off the lower stems, and stripped from any stems that were too short for hanging, have been spread out on a wooden tray. They’ll take about a week or so to dry this way (2 days actually – see update below). You could put them on a baking tray and into a low-heat oven if you want to dry them quicker. I’ll probably chop these up in a few days and then let them dry a bit more before storing in a clean airtight jar.
I also put a large bunch in the fridge for using fresh over the next few days. I’m thinking about; herb and feta cheese scones, homemade pizza with anchovies and oregano, and maybe garlic bread with oregano instead of parsley. More ideas on my Pinterest board Using Herbs. I may have forgotten to sow basil this year, but oregano is just as good in a tomato based sauce, so here’s hoping my toms come good this year!
In fact the herbs were dry by the start of day 2, and after a quick chop and another drying session for a few hours, they were ready to be stored.