So...I cleared away two planter pots and Swimmer brought home three peat pots of three sweet basil starts each (they're 'Genovese'), so we have started our pesto ranch for the year. I want to obtain two more large plant pots...5 plants each...and more starts to really expand the basil herd for fattening and mid-season shearing. This will require protection measures as well. I don't have plant predators, but the chickens like to scratch up the soil and the cats like to make them in to beds...either way traumatizes my sweet basil plants.
I have an overgrown curry plant which needs to be curbed, a small collection of sages which are only now perking up, some lush marjoram and a struggling rosemary. The catnip will be cropped back seriously, as well.
So...In the expansion of the pesto herd here at Ravenswood (aka "Rancho Pesto"). I have now resorted to uprooting things I'm not particularly happy with, or are a mite 'overproductive'. From pots. Out came the curry. Out came the catnip. I reworked the soil and in went fresh green new sweet basil starts. Here it is more than a week later than when the last set of new transplants arrived and everything looks like it has settled in. Some of my acquisitions suffered trauma in the transit home, but they've managed and are starting to bounce back. The undamaged are thriving. I tried taking a count, but as accurate as I could get was "somewhere around 45 stems" tucked away in various pots in the sunny corners of my back yard. I'm pleased to say that after today's rainfall, they are all looking plump and much refreshed, ready for the next stint of sunshine. Already, I have had to cultivate diligence in my husbandry and nip those new buds in the bud. I've got to keep them all from blooming before I shear for the harvest, otherwise the final product will be rendered bitter. I take comfort in knowing that each nipped bud has a very high likelihood of developing multiple leaf stems where once there was only only. More leaf stems, more leaf. More leaf, more pesto.
One curious outcome of this upheaval is that when the catnip was removed from its place in a 20" tall pot, tossed first on to the patio, where it was reduced to smaller size, and then unceremoniously tossed on to the compost pile along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. It seems its potting had protected it from molestation by the neighborhood felines. I hadn't even started cutting it down to size when I was interrupted by a neighborohood Russian Blue who expected me to leave so he could be alone with the 'harvest'. This set me to wondering how it would affect my two felines. It seems that our three year old tutored female Abyssinian took on some new behaviors. She would enter and do a lot of 'dancy-dancy' stuff around the public space, squirm around on the floor, yowl a few times, dance some more, and then demand to go back outdoors. This was frequent behavior, too. It became so frequent, we would arch our brows knowingly as she minced waiting for somebody to open the damned door..."She's going out to the compost pile." Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge. The huge long haired tuxedo tom next door has become an even more regular visitor, and more mellow, too. Murray, my tuxedo polydactyl stubby Manx tutored tom, seems entirely uninterested....it's his feral nature, I guess. It's curious because she's active, lithe and nosy, and he is a bedlump who acts like a stoner (with a fading case of PTSD).
Here it is July 1 and I'm thinking that I'm looking at my first shearing of the pesto herd.
I'm spending just a little too much time nipping buds off. I could just cut them back and harvest the leaves for pesto. I have the oil. I have the pinyons. I just need garlic and a willing crew and I'm hep to whirl some pesto.
So...It took two separate days of harvesting the shorn basil and then washing, plucking the leaves, mixing the ingredients (fresh garlic, pine nuts, olive oil and the basil leaves), working for the right consistancy to pour in to ice cube trays, cover in plastic bags and tuck in to the freezer. Each ice cube tray was 16 cubes. I managed about three trays each of two work sessions for a final production of about six trays. Six times 16 is 96 cubes. A standard meal of pasta with pesto for two requires two to three cubes.
This was the first shearing. I'm sure I'll get another because the first shorn are already poking new leaves up above the trim line. I hope to get a decent third shearing. For now, it's back to nipping buds.
Plus...Akmed, my central Asian refugee clone, seems to be doing swimmingly in the midst of the balcony rose bed. He's growing like a weed.
Heh...after having finished all the blending and cleaned up the resulting mess, I finally took and opportunity to sit and relax. I chose the balcony overlooking the garden where I'd just harvested basil from several large pots. I sat in the bench on the balcony and finally realized that the terra cotta pot just inches from my right knee had a resplendent array of glossy deep green basil leaves. I'd missed a pot; a potful remained unshorn. The one which wasn't actually down 'in' the garden, but on the balcony.
But, wait....I'm saved. Dinner tonight with the lodger. It's meatless. A huge mushroom (variety name: portabella) filled with chopped onion, garlic and cheese, and pesto, and covered with a slab of fresh tomato slice, and more cheese, and more pesto, and then baked. Served with baguette & fresh butter, antipasto, and wine or a malty ale. It will be a good use of really fresh basil, made directly into pesto practically right at the table.