Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tangentially Tea

I have a sad confession to make about my ginger plant.  I put it out too soon and most of its leaves are in a sorry state.  However, it seems to be coming back, so if I can resist putting it out too soon again, perhaps it will be all right.

I have rosemary and tarragon vinegars curing in the closet and red wine vinegar waiting for purple basil if it ever gets more than 2 inches tall.  I have awful luck trying to grow basil from seed.  I think I should just give in and only buy it from a nursery.  I am going to make a lot of herb vinegars this summer.  If you use white balsalmic vinegar as a base, which is much sweeter than the usual, they can be sprinkled on fruit salad to add a bit of pizazz.  I am also going to try mixing some fruit teas with the herbal vinegars for further flavor.  Like a citrus tea, made very strong, with orange mint.

Most of you know that I lean toward organic teas.  On the whole I believe they are better for everyone, from planters to consumers to the earth as a whole.  That doesn't necessarily mean the individual teas are better or worse. That is a whole other tale. I don't think it is just scare stories that the earth and its climate are changing.  Winters are generally milder, flowers are blooming earlier, the climate is weirder. More tornadoes in more places that do not generally have them is an example of this.

Our Master Gardener program, which is part of a Co-Operative Extension program of the land grant universities, such as Cornell, has asked us to keep track of the compost we save each month as a way of proving how much waste we save from landfills.  So far, my husband and I have averaged 66 pounds each month.  Multiply that by composters around the country and you can see how much can be kept out of landfills, since the compost goes right into our gardens (after a year or so) to enrich the soil.  Which is why I am pleased that tea and some teabags and their containers, like those from Teatulia are organic and biodegradable.

The Co-Operative Extension started about 75 years ago to promote good agricultural practises.  My father, uncle and two grandfathers were charter members.  They were part of programs to promote crop rotation, sustainable agriculture, crop comparisons, contour plowing, etc.  I feel like I have taken up a proud legacy by becoming a Master Gardener.  Even in cities like Philadelphia, there is a strong Co-Op, dedicated to urban agriculture, nutrition and other topics related to living well with the earth.

We are going away for a few days, so I won't be back until Thursday.

Again from Ballenberg, an example of the small huts that herdsmen would use in the summers in the high mountain pastures.  The lower level would be given over to cheese making and curing, while the upper level would be sleeping quarters.


Steph said...

Way to go on the composting! We compost like crazy here (worms, garden), and I think I'll start keeping tabs on the volume - good idea to get the sense of magnitude.

Marlena said...

I was really shocked by how much we were composting! But the worms and the grass and my garden are quite happy, hence, me too.

Alex Zorach said...

Ginger does have trouble with cold! I will say though, it stores most of its energy in the roots and it seems to recover very well from even a complete die-back of the above-ground part of the plant. My experience has been that when it dies down (in my case, usually from a long under-watering spell) it usually comes back just as strong as before.

I also think it is good that you are bringing people's attention to environmental problems. Organic certification is just one small thing, and is certainly not the be-all and end-all of environmental issues, but I do think it's a move in the right direction. In the end though, I think leaving tracts of intact ecosystem are more important. I'd rather buy a product that was produced on land where, say, 70% of it was left as wild ecosystems, but the product was not organic certified, than I would buy a product where the whole portion of land was developed, but the product was organic certified.