When buying organic, non-irradiated dried herbs in jars from the store, they can be quite expensive; and I'm growing lots of herbs, so I decided to try drying some and see if I can't be a little more sustainable in my herb cupboard.
I grow pretty much everything: Chives, Mint, Oregano, Marjoram, Savory, Parsley, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary, Tarragon, Cilantro, Basil, Fennel, Lemon Verbena, and Lavender. The herb bed is a tangled jungle of high growing herbs and low growing, some blooming right now, some not, and around all of them, fallen leaves. I went out this morning after the dew had dried and picked bunches of four different herbs - rosemary, thyme, sage, and oregano, all of which I use regularly in dried form (as well as fresh).
It was a pretty simple process, I just used some kitchen twine and secured the bunches at one end, then hung them from our clothesline (which is usually used for drying swimming suits and towels).
They'll hang outside for a week to ten days, then I'll separate the leaves and store them in jars. Apparently you can put the bunches of herbs in a pillowcase, shake them, and the leaves will magically detach from the stems, which would be nice, especially with teensy-leaved thyme.
Dried herbs will keep for a year in the jar. This might be a really nice Christmas present or favor.
As for the purple surprise, well. I decided to pull out the winter squash vines (it was a very bad year for winter squash, I just had uncontrollable powdery mildew) in order to clear the bed for fall and winter crops. I think I told you that I had volunteer sweet potato vines (the Japanese variety) come up in that bed as well. I pulled those vines out too, and got a nice little crop of SP's for me and Tom (the kids don't like them).
They aren't pretty, but after curing a bit on the patio table, they'll be delicious.
It's starting to look like fall around here.