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Jessica’s Garden: It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like Christmas

This week was sprinkled with a little more Christmas cheer as everyone in the family is into the Christmas spirit. We have picked our Christmas trees and they are up – brightly adorned with sparkling lights and a mish-mash of all of our lifetime’s worth of ornaments. My favorite part of this year’s holiday seasons is Grayson’s grasp on the holiday. As with most things this time around, this is the first year he’s really comprehending the whole occasion.

Grayson at the North Pole

The tradition starts with a fresh-cut Christmas tree. As children, we always made an evening event out of decorating the Christmas tree. As adults, my husband Chris and I have continued these traditions in our home. This year, with the farmhouse still under renovation, there is no room for a Christmas tree there. So, we brought the tradition back over to my parent’s house. As tradition dictates, we enjoyed cookies and eggnog, while listening to Christmas carols as the ornaments slowly made it up onto the tree one by one.

Trimming the Christmas Tree

Grayson’s attention span for tree trimming in years past has been close to non-existent. But this year, after seeing the tree at his other grandparent’s home, he was excited and anticipating decorating a tree at my parent’s house. He eagerly darted between the boxes of ornaments and the tree carefully placing each ornament and stepping back to admire his work. At the end of the event, he managed to decorate four small branches with about fifteen glass balls. Needless to say, as imperfect as they appear, no one will move them. We all silently agreed that they look perfect just as they are.

Preparing the hot pepper mash

Interestingly enough, I still had a project lingering from my Summer garden. I had started a batch of fermented hot sauce about six weeks ago from the last of the hot peppers. After watching it regularly over the weeks to check its progress, it appeared to have completed its process. The peppers were transferred to a wire mesh sieve, ground with a wooden spoon to remove skins and seeds, and then bottled with the appropriate amount of rice wine vinegar. Although this batch only made two jars, I am content. We don’t use a tremendous amount in general and I am just happy to have conquered my first fermentation project; small yield or not.

Firery Fish Pepper Hot Sauce

I also made my first cup of homegrown lemongrass tea. I have been fighting off a cold for a few days and thought I’d give it a try. Lemongrass is supposed to have many proposed health benefits, and I really just wanted a nice cup of tea. I steeped about a tablespoon of dried lemongrass leaves from my Summer garden for 10 minutes in hot water and added a little local honey. The lemongrass has a smooth and refreshing lemon flavor, similar but also very different from the citrus fruit. It’s safe to say that lemongrass has found a permanent home in my garden.

We’ve also been enjoying collecting fresh eggs from our bantam chickens. They recently began laying about a week ago after patiently waiting nine months. Grayson steps into his boots and we head off to the coop each morning to check for eggs. Some days there are none and others a couple, it’s always a little surprise. Sometimes, Grayson carries them carefully back up to the house. After successfully harvesting a total of six eggs, he has yet to trip or drop and break an egg – so far. I’m still learning and appreciating that it’s the simple things that can bring the most joy.

Posted By: Jessica J. Crawford Behnkes Garden Blogger

Stephanie Fleming was raised at Behnke’s Nurseries in Beltsville. Her Mom, Sonja, was one of Albert & Rose Behnke’s four children. She was weeding from the moment she could walk and hiding as soon as she was old enough to run, so many weeds, so little time. Although she quickly learned how to pull out a perennial and get taken off of weed pulling duty.

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