I caught the last whiff of summer fragrance the other day when I emptied out the last of our herb pots. The basil smelled so fresh and light that it was hard to believe the aroma came from the stems alone as I pulled them from the soil; the leaves froze quite a while ago. The parsley was a bit woody and wild by now, but still, the fragrance made me think of the delicious chicken soup that Mom used to make, always so flavorful with handfuls of parsley. How I would have loved a steaming bowlful on that chilly afternoon!
The last pot to be emptied was the sage: the dusky-scented, gray-green beautiful sage! By now, the poor plant was looking a little tired, but nevertheless I carefully plucked the leaves to dry. It is easy to dry sage leaves: I just wash them, pat them dry, then put them on a paper towel unil they are completely dry. After that, they get stored in a jar in the cupboard. They will keep for a very long time, ready to use in some tasty recipe. My favorite has to be Mom’s dressing, a favorite at Christmas or Thanksgiving meals. Mom always made the turkey stuffing in a separate casserole, never putting it in the turkey. The result of that magical mixture of bread, eggs, celery, onion and sage resulted in a delicious dish that was more like a savory, fluffy bread pudding. Add a dab of butter on top when it is piping hot and steaming, and you have comfort food at its finest.
Sage is a favorite spice, going back hundreds of years. It originally called the Mediterranean home, but can now be found all over the world. It has long been treasured for its healing properties for a wide variety of ailments from respiratory problems to tummy troubles of all kinds to even preventing the plague.
But for you and I, as eager gardeners, we just need to know that sage is a delicious herb, and one that is easy to grow. You can start it easily from seed, or buy a couple plants in the spring and add them to your herb collection. Sage likes full sun, good drainage, and does very well in a pot or out on the garden. If you keep plucking the tender leaves, it will produce more. There don’t seem to be any pests or diseases that attack sage. It’s really just an all-around winner! And the fragrance is amazing — not sweet or floral, but rich and mellow.
There! One plant to add to our “To Plant” list for 2014! Because by now, that is what we are doing: looking ahead! Our gardens are done, hopefully cleaned up, with all our flowers pulled up. To everything there is a season… and now is the season to close the chapter of this year’s garden.
I’d like to take a moment to pass along sincere condolences to the Daum family, for the loss of Kay Daum. Kay was a long-time member of the Yorkton and District Horticultural Society, and contributed so much to the Society over the years. You will probably remember Kay as the diminutive lady who grew the big glads! Kay had a gift for glads, and the most astounding collection of gladiolas, all of them in bright jewel tones with huge flowers! They were simply amazing. Poor health prevented Kay from taking part in the group in recent years; may she now enjoy the peace and beauty of a heavenly garden.
The next Horticultural Society meeting is on November 27, our AGM and supper banquet. This is a members only (and guests) meeting. For full details call Liz at 782-2830.
Have a great week, gardeners: make a cup of tea, stay warm, and start planning next year’s garden!