Quest for a Homestead: Herbs & Spices

There’s so much more than a spice rack.

Hanging chiles, garlic and onions

For instance, there’s growing your own peppers, drying them, and processing them into soups, stir-fry, curry and decorative wreaths, to name a few.

Someday our homestead will have hanging everythings – garlic, drying lavender, onions, chiles, etc.  I can’t wait, but I couldn’t say why I’m so excited about it.  I guess it feels so much more natural than opening a soon-to-be recycled or thrown away box to acquire the food inside.  Instead, you just cut a sprig of flowers or a clove of garlic and there you go – 100% food or 100% usable item, nothing wasted.

My favorite herbs are basil, lavender, and cilantro.  The spices which interest me most are red chile peppers, garlic, and ginger – though I’m not sure I can grow ginger in Arkansas? But if people grow avocados here in pots, well, I would try it.  Also, it appears that we no longer have a “winter” as we knew it before – we haven’t had much of anything associated with cold or snowy, icy weather this season.

So the foods, herbs and spices that can be grown here, as well as the growing season, is changing.  Not necessarily for the better.  Unusually warm winters here are only one effect of climate change, and when combined with spring floods and summer droughts it doesn’t make it easier on farmers.  Ryan & I will need to learn how to sustain ourselves growing food in novel ways to get around the changing climate and the trouble it brings.  Once we adapt to this new environment, you can be sure our dried harvest will be hanging all over the house!

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Debbie Hackney


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