Archive for January, 2013

Sweet Basil: Choosing, Growing, Storing and Recipes

basil 'Green Ruffles' (Ocimum basilicum

‘Green Ruffles’ makes a good bouquet filler after it’s gone to flower. Leaves are a bit larger than this at what might be called best edible stage.


“Write more about growing basil” has been on the do list for some time – years, actually, ever since the  basil harvest tips post that appeared back in 2006. (Nothing hasty, that’s my motto.)

But filling out this year’s seed orders has finally given me the requisite nudge. In catalogue after catalogue, Occimum basilicum and its close relatives are available in a far wider assortment than any other culinary herb (at least among annuals; thyme is another matter). This year we’ll be planting eight varieties and that’s just a small sampling.

Read More…

Lois Dodd – Catching the Light

lois dodd in Maine studio

I see Lois Dodd’s back a lot. Light comes into her barn studio through the same door I do, so she’s very seldom facing it.

Portland, Maine: Last evening was almost balmy, this morning, not so much and tomorrow here comes the snow, more of it back down in the Hudson Valley than up here right by the coast, if the forecast proves accurate.

What am I doing in Maine in the winter, after so many years away? I’m taking a small part in the opening festivities for my neighbor Lois’ retrospective at the Portland Museum of Art.

The show’s title, Catching the Light, is a good description of her skill, or perhaps more accurately her very raison d’etre. But years of watching her at work, preparing to work, knocking off for the day and otherwise living the daily life of a painter have me firmly convinced that she wouldn’t be interested in catching it if it hadn’t caught her first.

Read More…

Starting Seeds

tashkent marigold

Tashkent Marigold, from one of my favorite seed companies, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange.

Well, I’ve wasted another perfectly good hour, as the Car Guys would say, going through the umpty-millionth seed catalog, marking every tempting vegetable, herb and flower.

Have I checked which seeds I’ve already ordered? No. Have I checked which seeds I already have? Also no. Were any of these markings made with an eye to the limits of the garden, or for that matter the limits of me?

Of course not, because the truth is the hour wasn’t wasted, it was used as a tranquilizer. Locally, it’s too cold to work in the garden; globally, it’s too hot for the world as we know it to endure. Both of these facts have the potential to be depressing, but just thinking about planting seeds pushes all gloom away.

No matter what else is happening, a seed would rather grow. What could be more wonderful than that?

Read More…