I realized on the morning garden walkabout that several herbs desperately needed harvesting, and that I had a few peppers so ready that they winked at me as I went by.
I mentioned in an earlier post, “Strange Herbs,” that herb fanciers are even crazier than the tomato freaks, and basil’s an excellent example of how obsessive you can get. Basils, quite frankly, are even worse than thymes in how much brain and garden space they can occupy. There are hundreds of cultivars and varieties, each one alluring in a different way (I have beautiful purple leaves! I have glorious blue flowers! I grow in an impossibly compact ball! My leaves were found in the excavation of a Roman Empire camp!) and each one is independently capable of ringing up your credit card at the nursery, as I have discovered.
I’m going to dehydrate the herbs to continue stocking the spice cabinet, so I had the sad task of clearing out a Failed Experiment from the big black McGuffin in the Lab. The grapevines on the arbor out front have decided that this is the Super-Awesomest-Year-Ever* (see below) and decided that they needed the sidewalk and the driveway to express their joy. As I would prefer not to be sued by a postal worker attacked by exuberant grapes as he’s trying to deliver my daily fifteen pounds of catalogs and Lasix flyers, I had to take the clippers out and beat them back a bit. Once the wayward vines were in hand, the Alchemist came roaring out — What can I do with these?
Dry the leaves, of course! Now there are lots of recipes on the Interwebs about how to salt-pickle grape leaves to make dolmas (and I’ll probably do that with the next batch of trimmings), but I had this great idea that dried grape leaves might make attractive ornamentation for stuff like . . . soap packaging. Stripped the vines were and into the dehydrator at the classic 95 degrees!
As it happens, grape leaves don’t dry very well. First they turn weird colors, then they curl up like you’d hit them with napalm, and then they shatter into dust if you even look at them suspiciously.
I imagine that even in the Middle Ages, alchemists had garbage heaps full of Failed Experiments, so I’m trying not to take it too much to heart.
* Many thanks to my friend for the phrase “Super-Awesome.” Seriously, if grapevines could talk, they’d say “Super-Awesome” all the time.