All types of basil are members of the mint family and some basil varieties have been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. Almost all basil varieties are cultivated as culinary herbs. When talking about the different types of basil, most people are familiar with the sweet basil varieties used in Italian cuisine, but many different types of basil are used in Asian cooking as well.
And one of my favorite writer said , one should be open minded to all different kinds of flavors of food, so he or she can learn to accept the different experience he or she might have in the future. And we have at least 4 different kinds of basils prepared for growing: genovese basil, Thai basil, asian basil, and Mrs. Burns' Lemon basil.
Variation in plants have lots of benefits for a home garden:
a) You can compare the taste of different varieties
b) You can find the one grows the best in your area
c) Invite your friends to cook and try new receipe
d) Different varieties have different foliage and flowers, which can be decoration outside your kitchen window or backyard.
e) Different varieties have different tolerance towards pests and extreme conditions; so there will always be some plants survive from the insects, drought or wind,etc.
In my previous blog, the basil has high germination rate, so it is very easy to grow for a beginner. In the quarantine period, the transportation of fresh vegetables and herb are in short because the inconvenience of transportation. And there is no hurt to grow some basil in the left yogurt box in your kitchen if you love pesto:)
Read more at Gardening Know How: What Are The Varieties Of Basil: Types Of Basil For Cooking https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/herbs/basil/what-are-varieties-of-basil.htm
After about 2 months, most herbs and edible flowers I seeded are ready to be planted. The germination rate is calculated above. For those have 18% of above germinated plants, I planted the transplant directly in the flower beds. Most annual herbs and flowers require full sun, good aeration soil and sufficient amount of water. The flower beds provide them the good environment for growing. After about 6 weeks, those plants will reach maturity and ready to be harvest. As we can see from the picture, there is blooming borage in my transplant already!!
For the plants have low germination rate, Michale suggested me to plant them separately in to individual pot and still put them on the bench to give them the best condition for growing.
Most people prefer to grow flowers to add beauty to the garden or to their house. However a lot of flowers have edible petals, seeds that can be used to bake, make tea or de added to salad.
Poppies are known for their attractive red flowers and once the petals faded. You can collected the seeds from the mature seed pods. Michale told me those seeds with darker color tended to have better strong flavor. And I made lemon poppy seed small pound cake over here.
The recipe is able to make 9 cakes.
Wet material : 2 fully ripen bananas, 2 large whole eggs, 1/2 cup room temperature melted butter, 2 table spoon honey, 2 table spoon lemon juice
Dry material: 2 cup all purpose flour(I used 1/2 cup whole wheat flour mixed with it ); 2 table spoon poppy seeds; 1/2 tea spoon baking soda; 1/2 spoon salt; lemon and nuts for decoration purpose.
a) Mix all the wet materials
b)Mix all the dry materials
c) Put dry materials into wet materials and stir them until there is no visible flour block
d) Pour the materials into model
e) Prepare the oven in 350 degree and bake the cakes for 25 til 30 minutes.
Tips: Do not over mix in procedure c, all the pound cake will be very dense.
Therapeutic horticulture (TH) allows participants to improve their physical and mental health through active and passive gardening, plants related or natural related therapeutic experience that dated to 1700 A.D. During WWI and WWII, there were 40 % garden increasing due to the war not only for food supply but also for emotional stability; and United States introduced therapeutic horticulture program to help Vietnam War veterans recover from the war trauma. (Porchey, 2007)
It is now widely accepted as an effective treatment or intervention for the elders, PTSD patients, or the individuals recovered from surgery. However, the research also shown that horticulture therapy can increase patients’ heart rates, release serotonin, and promote sleep quality which positively boost patient’s mental health. Though there are few programs focus on introducing horticulture therapy to the public to promote residents physical and mental health in general.
The proportion of North American college students with emotional disorders has increased year by year, so many universities have developed resources for physiological counseling in order to meet the psychological needs of students. As far as I know, in Texas A&M University, there are professional psychiatrists in the health clinic, mutual aid groups in the student resource center, and helpline advertisements that can be seen everywhere on campus (my friends became volunteers after receiving evaluation and professional training) and many student club organizations focusing on meditation, yoga to relieve stress. However, not everyone will be aware of their emotion disorder in the first time. Or to put it further, many people, after realizing their emotional disorders, for various reasons-denial, worry about being disapproved by their peers, economic or time reason- fail to seek help.
The horticultural therapy, or nature-related psychological intervention, provides a new solution. Parks, gardens and horticultural landscapes do not only improve the greening and beauty of the campus, also have a positive effect on the psychological health of students.
As people are less familiar with the nature, the insects or tubers of potatoes might remind us creatures in scientific movies rather than something that in our back yard. And I am so glad that this internship offered me an opportunity to be around on a farm to observe the nature like a child, with all his/her curiosity, acceptance and love. Though every species on earth speak their own language, grow in their own pace, and live in their own way; still, we are all living on the same earth and under the same sunshine.
The grasshopper just jumped onto my leg while I was weeding. Before I took the entomology lecture, I might be uncomfortable to take a deeper look on the insect. However, with more understanding of the insects, I started to learn to accept them in the wild field. On the organic farm, it is impossible to eliminate all the bugs, even those recognized as pests; all we do is to control them under the threshold by integrated pest management. Apparently, the grasshopper was not afraid of me for that reason.
The germinated potatoes were given to Michale from a horticulture lab. And the new sprout coming from the potatoes gave the ideas to write down the blog.
Since college station area seldom reaches temperature below 35 degree in winter. Those turnips and radish were actually planted in the winter break. Turnips and radishes are easy to grow vegetables for several reasons.
a) They reach maturity in 3 to 6 weeks after planted.
b) They can survive on slightly alkaline soil.
c)As quick growers, they have low requirement of fertilization.
Though there are some radish over grew or became hollow, most of them are pretty, fresh and fruity. It was the first time I tried black radish and turnip. The black radish has very strong flavor and crisp tasting. What really surprised me is the roast turnip taste like radish flavored apple. And all of them would be very good ingredient in your salad or soup.
If one would like to start working on a new project, he or she will first remove unnecessary things from the working area. And we do the same thing on the farm. Before we plant the seeds and transplant in the spring, the intern students and volunteers spend weeks to remove the weeds from the flower beds and fields.
Though some weeds like Bermuda grass and sedge grass are disliked because of their invasive growing habits. Other weeds actually have some fun characteristics. Most of us are familiar with dandelion yellow flowers and snow ball looking seeds. Also, in some culture , dandelion is used as herb to promote one's health. Another fun fact about one of the weed is the bedstraw weed, or catchweed, if you throw the weed towards someone wears a cotton or coarse fabric clothes, it would stick on the clothes and does not fall off. During the weeding process, it is important to separate the aggressive weeds (those have very strong root system and high reproduction rate) from the less aggressive weeds which can be used as composting materials.
What I learned from an organic farm is that everything can contribute to the sustainability of the farm if you think thoroughly.
Everyday on the land is a good day, said by Confucius. And as a good farmer, you are always prepared for something better.
After weeding the flower beds and fields for weeks, I learned the importance of tools. The first picture is a soil knife belonging to Michael, our professional farm manager. The soil knife is useful to cut the hard stems, to dig the weeds' roots out, to measure the depth of the soil level or to be cool to carry around. And a good tool is a good friend. It means you have to be a responsible user to keep it in good quality for a long time.
Though it is still too cold to start the seeds, I am excited about my project already. Growing up in urban areas, I have never had the chances to have a yard that there is always flowers blooming and bees and butterflies flying around. So I looked up the seeds in the farm building and selected some seeds I would like to plant when the weather goes warmer.
The picture is the middle is a forecast for the next few blogs. I just found so many different kinds of weeds on the farms. Some of them are good materials to go into the compost, some have really deep and strong roots to deal with, and some are edible. I would love to share the stories of the unexpected friends on the farm.
What would you expect on a student run organic farm?
The answer may be food, beautiful landscapes, our favorite star--Napeta, and a lot of gardening. However, this is the answer I will give you if it was my first week on the farm. While looking at those lovely pictures taken months ago, I am shelter in place like most people around the world. What I miss the most about Howdy Farm is that it is a place that you can give away all your stress, anxiety, running minds and just focus on the nature, on the land you are working on.
I am a proud nature lover who is ready to share my passion with every one!