Redmond farmers market

Made to my favorite local farmers market here in Redmond, WA. There is a great selection of different vendors which helps keep the prices very competitive.

We left with our typical wares, kettle corn and apples, but also picked up some sugar peas in the pod, basil plant pears, and a tamale to go for my wife

My oldest daughter also convinced me to buy her a Hawaiian ice…

Office hydroponic setup (Growing Basil in a water bottle)

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An unfortunate thing happened to my little office basil growing experiment, I got some fungal gnats and not wanting to be the guy known for his office infested with flies I decided to throw together a little hydroponic system primarily consisting of items I had around the office.

I started with an old reusable water bottle I had previously used to store water for my prior soil based basil plant.  I filled the bottle with water, added a couple of handfuls of hydrocon clay pellets, dropped in an air stone attached to a cheap aquarium pump and I have a neat little bubbler system.

After a couple of weeks there was great root growth (water is not really green just poor camera, bad lighting and unfortunate use of blue water bottle)

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After a couple more weeks, when I was away for Christmas vacation I came back to a plant though needing some water was still growing strong.

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For nutrients I broke off the smallest piece of some generic brand plant spike fertilizer I can put in piece in every week or so along with a small pinch of epsom salt.

When it is time to harvest, I made good of office supplies: a couple of binder clips attached to some rubber bands provides good air circulation to dry out any extra basil I want to store for later use.

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Hey it is not pretty, but it is cheap and provides me some fresh basil to add to my omelets from the cafeteria downstairs and even a little extra dry basil to use at home.

Growing basil indoors with a desk lamp

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I recently moved to a new office building and unfortunately I had a lacked a few years at the company to get a window office.  With a desire to have some plant life in my office, I grabbed a couple of the basil plants I cloned, dropped them in some potting soil, and positioned a desk lamp with a CFL bulb.  I can’t seem to find my lamp timer so the light has been staying on for 24 hours a day.

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The results have been great, the plants are thriving with great green foliage (much greener than its cloned parent was outside this summer)  Shortly after taking the picture above a harvested some of the leaves and used the top portion to clone into a new basil plant.

Just shows you don’t need a fancy grow box or AeroGarden to grow indoors and you are also not limited to boring shade loving potted plants in your office.

How to make dried basil

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Summer has finally appeared here in the Pacific Northwest with temperatures in the 90s I decided this would be a good time to dry some herbs in the garage given it was already at the right drying temperature without any heating required.

Here is the basic steps to harvest, dry, and store your own dried basil.

  1. 1. Pick and clean (optional) the leaves
  2. Start by trimming as much as you may need for the next month.  If the leaves are dirty give them a quick rinse and pat them dry with a paper towel.  If the leaves are clean you can skip this step.  You want to pick the greenest leaves you can find.  In my case many of the leaves were not as green as I would have likes (they are getting better now the weather is improving)
  3. 2. Strip the leaves from the stem
  4. Unlike oregano this part if very easy use scissors (or just pinch off with your finger nails.
  5. 3. Dry the leaves
  6. If you have a food dehydrator place the leaves in a single layer and set to 90-100 degree F for about 24 hours.  Alternately you can also dry the leaves by placing them in a screen in a dry warm place.  You will know they are down when the leaves are crispy and can be pulverized easily with your fingers.
  7. 4. Storing the leaves
  8. Now you have two choices:
  9. 1. Keep the leaves whole and chop them as you need them for added flavor
  10. 2. Chop them up using a spice/coffee grinder (or Magic Bullet with the grinding blade) and use them immediately as needed

As you can see the freshly dried basil (left) looks much better than the stuff hanging around in my spice rack, which was only a few months old.

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The picture above had two purposes, I actually place my herbs on paper then fold to easily pour into the old bottles.

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