The trees are blossoming and the daffodils are out, and that means the fruit trees are about to enter their growth phase for the year. So, early or not, it’s time to start tree maintenance. I had a little lemon tree in a small pot who was past due for a spacious new home, so I took an hour and made the switch.
Find a suitable container.
Make sure the container has adequate drainage.
Put the container in its new place.
Add a layer of gravel and detritus to help keep the roots happy. Lemon trees like moist, but not damp soil.
Build up the soil layer to create a base for your tree. Water the soil and pack it lightly.
Remove the tree from its old pot. Shake the roots loose, and if the tree is root bound, make sure to carefully separate a few out to assist with the growth process, and to keep old roots from strangling new growth.
If using solid fertilizer, add it now.
Top up the soil to the same level as in the previous pot.
Add mulch or ground cover to assist with moisture retention.
We help take care of our neighbor, who in return tells us wild stories of her younger days growing up in Japan. My husband was helping clean out her yard, and ended up removing a climbing rose that was blocking access in her garden.
We happily found it a new home on our south wall. Since it had the root system mostly intact, all we had to do was dig a hole about a foot deep, build up a little mound in the center, and place the root on top. Then I filled the hole back up, gave it a little food and water, and now I watch over the next week or so for signs of stress. We lost a bit of the root, so I’ll probably trim about a third back in the next day or so.
With all the rain that fell here in Northern California, the herbs that survived the winter have exploded! Last year, I waited a little too long, and my parsley bolted before I could savor a single leaf. Rude, nature, rude. This year, February or not, I decided to make the most of my parsley before it goes to seed again.
All told, I pulled about three packed cups of stems and leaves from my one plant. I left the young growth for later, and I’ll be revisiting it every couple of days to watch for buds.
Method 1: Drying
This one’s easy. Rinse and dry the parsley, then tie 10-15 stems together with kitchen twine, leaving a long tail. Tie a loop in the tail, and hang it somewhere that gets plenty of airflow, but not a lot of light. Mine is in the kitchen near a north-facing window. It will be ready to crumble in about a month.
Method 2: Freezing
For this, take rinsed and dried parsley, and remove the stems. (Save them for later.) Chop to your preferred texture – I went with halfway between chopped and minced. Then, grab an ice cube tray, and put about a tablespoon (loosely packed) of parsley into each section. Cover with water, and freeze for 24 hours. Store in the ice cube tray, or in a freezer bag until needed.
Method 3: Pesto
This time, I made a sunflower seed pesto, but pesto is gloriously flexible. Pretty much any soft stem herb, and any nut or seed plus a little oil and you’re in business. I was getting toward the end of my trimmings so I didn’t get as much as I would lave liked. You can easily double or triple this recipe if you have more parsley, or want to add in other tender green herbs. This makes a pretty thick pesto, too, so if you prefer yours a little thinner, you may want to thin it out with more oil or a little water.
Makes about 1/2 cup, or 4 servings
1 cup (packed) parsley
1/4 cup raw, hulled, unsalted sunflower seeds
1 garlic clove
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
salt to taste
Remove the stems from the leaves to make a cup of parsley leaves, packed pretty well.
Add the parsley, garlic, salt, and sunflower seeds to the food processor, and pulse a few times to help chop.
Add half the olive oil, and all of the lemon juice. Run the processor until everything makes a rough paste, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl regularly.
Add the second half of the olive oil, and any extra if necessary. Continue processing until you have a smooth paste.
Let rest for at least an hour to let the flavors mingle.
Store in the refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze until needed.
*Nutrition Info at the bottom of the post
Method 4: Infusion
Still have all those stems? Use them to infuse vinegar or oil. Choose a neutral flavored oil or vinegar (I went with simple white vinegar), add stems to a jar, and cover. Let rest for at least two weeks. Use in pasta or salad dressings, pickles, or vinegar cocktails.