How to dry herbs in the microwave

The herbs have been growing like mad in the garden and they are finally ready to harvest. I have been spending a lot of time harvesting and drying herbs over the last week and started to run out of room. Since my dehydrator was full, I started using my microwave to dry herbs and it is amazing!

I have one of those multi tray dehydrators and I use it all the time. It works really well, except it takes hours to dry each batch of fresh herbs and obviously it can only hold so much. When you use the microwave to dry herbs though, each batch is done in under 2 minutes. So you literally never run out of room since it's only just a minute or so till you can put a new batch of herbs in to dehydrate! 

Fresh herbs, drying in the microwave

Plus it's really great to use the microwave to dry herbs instead of a dehydrator when it's already hot outside and I'm resisting turning on the AC. The microwave doesn't blow out warm air like a regular dehydrator does. When it's running for the 8 hours it takes to dry each batch of fresh herbs, that's a lot of extra heat. 

Drying herbs in the microwave takes much less time than any other herb drying method. Plus, it's easy. It takes about the same amount of effort as using your car as a solar dehydrator...which is not much at all!

Remove rust from garden tools

I admit it, I don't always remember to clean my garden tools when I'm done with them. Actually, I rarely remember! Unfortunately that means that as I get all my hand tools out for my spring gardening, that many of them are rusty. I guess it's time to clean the rust off the garden tools. Luckily, it's not as hard as it sounds. 

Rust is another name for iron oxide, which occurs when iron or an alloy that contains iron, like steel, is exposed to oxygen and moisture for a long period of time. Also known as: evidence I didn't clean and dry my tools before putting them away. 

Removing rust from small garden tools

Rust can be removed from large garden tools with a grinder or in milder cases a wire brush and steel wool. I only needed to remove rust from hand tools so I opted to use an acid instead.

While there are many acids that could do the job of removing rust, white vinegar is around 5% acetic acid and is already in my pantry. Plus I'm cheap, so that's what we're using today! I'm all about being frugal and vinegar is the most frugal cleaner I know of.

Chive blossom vinegar

Chives are one of the first herbs to pop through the ground each spring, so it just makes sense that they would be in my first recipe of the year. When the other herbs are just starting to leaf out, chives are already blooming and the lovely purple chive blossoms are delicious!

Chives, chive blossoms and chive flavored vinegar.

I use chive blossoms in a lot of different recipes. I make chive blossom butter, I use chive blossoms in salads or as a plate garnish, and I also make chive blossom vinegar. Flavored vinegar's are easy to make and the pretty pink color of the chive blossoms makes for a lovely colored vinegar.

Flavored vinegar's are super easy to make, and once you know how you can come up with lots of different flavor combinations! All you really need to do to make an herb infused vinegar, is pick your herbs and choose a vinegar then put them together and let them marinate a while. Ok, well...maybe there's a little more to it than that! (but not much!)

Natural pain relievers: using common herbs and spices

Unfortunately living on a farm in the woods can be quite painful! There's a lot of manual labor and I often end up with aches and pains, especially when I have to chop wood or shovel snow in the winter. Ugh! Luckily I have a bunch of herbal remedies to turn to help alleviate pain. 

However, there does come a time...often in the dead of winter...when I run out of last summer's dried medicinal herbs from the garden. At that point I often turn to the herbs and spices in my kitchen cabinet instead of OTC or prescription remedies for natural pain relief. 

common herbs and spices in jars for use in natural pain relief
I know I'm not the only one who prefers to use natural remedies. A number of pain sufferers are turning to a more natural approach by using the methods of the past to treat the ailments of the present...and some of these herbs have been used for centuries!

Many common spices like cloves or ginger have been used for years to alleviate pain. Others like capsaicin are available widely as pain relievers right now. Here's the list of 7 common herbs and spices that I use for pain relief that should all be available in your grocery store (if you don't already have them in your spice rack!)

Growing 4 O'clock flowers

Have you ever heard of 4 o'clock flowers? A few years back I was struggling with growing moonflowers and decided to try growing 4 o'clocks instead. They grew perfectly and my love affair with the marbled, multi colored flowers was born!

The 4 O'clock flower, Mirabilis jalapa earned its name because the flowers open around late afternoon each day, and the blooms close and die come morning. Also called Marvel of Peru, these plants were originally cultivated by the Aztecs for medicinal and ornamental uses. 

Growing 4 O'clock, Marvel Of Peru flowers in your garden

One of the most unique aspects of this plant, is that different colored flowers can grow on the same plant! Flowers can be solid colored or have a combination of two colors in various patterns. The plant can also change colors as it matures. You could plant a yellow flowered Marvel of Peru and months later it can start blooming pink.

While it's often assumed the flowers of the 4 O'clock open in response to daylight, they actually open in response to the daily drop in temperature that happens around 4pm each day.