Evelyn Doane - William Raveis Real Estate - Cape Cod

Posted by Evelyn Doane on 3/4/2018

Cooking with fresh herbs is infinitely better than using the dried out flakes you'll find at the grocery store. Not only are they packed with much more flavor, but they'll also save you money in the process. Sure, there are some herbs you probably won't use very often and should just keep a small jar of them in your pantry. However, certain herbs are so useful that it's worth having on your window sill to pick from when you need them. If you're thinking about starting an indoor or outdoor herb garden, here are the best herbs to put in it that will spice up your recipes and save you money at the checkout line.


Number one on our list is sweet basil. Basil can be chopped up into sauces and salads, or it can be used whole on pizzas and sandwiches. For a great snack, toss some olive oil with chunks of tomato, mozzarella, and chopped basil. It's the perfect combination of tangy, sweet, and refreshing. Basil is also great for making tea and has a strong and pleasant aroma. If you start running low, you can start a new plant with clippings from an old one. As you pick from the plant, be sure to remove the leaf node (the stem part of the leaf) fully so your plant keeps producing more leaves.


A good herb to pair with basil is parsley. It goes great with pasta dishes, sauce, pizza, or eggs. Like basil, parsley can be harvested as needed. Simply cut the outermost leaves for use and leave the inner leaves to mature. However, parsley is also easy to dry and store. To dry parsley, hang it up in a warm place that has plenty of shade and ventilation. Test it by seeing if it crumbles in your hand. Once it does, crumble the rest up and store it in an air tight jar.


Arguably one of the the prettiest herbs on the list, thyme fills its long stems with small flowers and fills the air with a pleasant scent. Thyme goes well with many vegetables and types of seafood and is also common in many teas. If you live in a temperate climate, you could also try growing some thyme as an ornamental and aromatic shrub in your yard.


As you would suspect, mint smells and tastes...minty. To impress everyone at your summer cookout, place some mint leaves from your garden into their ice cold drinks. Like many other items on the list, mint is also great in tea and can be paired up with basil, lavender, and many other herbs to make a great herbal tea concoction.


Lavender is another pretty flowering herb. However, due to its size, it's best grown outdoors. You can make several homemade items from lavender including soaps, fragrance sprays, tea, and more. However, be sure to read up on caring for lavender plants as they require a lot of sunlight and well-drained soil. To make use of its size and aesthetics outside, you can plant lavender along walkways in your yard or garden.

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Posted by Evelyn Doane on 8/14/2016

A hardy perennial shrub native to Europe, hyssop is today widely cultivated in North America and throughout Asia. In the United States, hyssop can be found growing wild in open meadows and along the edge of the forest. Hyssop is a wonderful addition to any home herb garden both for its outstanding medicinal properties and to brew into a flavorful and refreshing tea. Known as the “Holy Herb”, hyssop has been used for centuries to clean shrines, temples, and sacred spaces. Throughout religious history, hyssop has held a prominent place in ceremonies and was used by the ancient Egyptians to cleanse the sores of lepers and is frequently mentioned in the Bible for its cleansing powers. History records that at the consecration of Westminster Abby, the holy herb was sprinkled on the altar. Medicinal Benefits Of Hyssop Fresh hyssop leaves, steeped in boiling water, creates a delightful tea. Pour one pint of boiling water over one ounce of freshly harvested chopped plant tops. Add a bit of honey and fresh lemon to relieve congestion and coughs due to allergies or a cold. Serve hot or cold. Traditionally, freshly harvested and finely minced hyssop leaves were simmered in honey and consumed as a syrup to ease shortness of breath, wheezing, and expel excessive phlegm. Hyssop blended and bruised, then combined with ground cumin seed and honey relieved the pain and infection from insect bites and was used by the Egyptians to treat bites from snakes, spiders, and scorpions. When hyssop is boiled with figs, a simple syrup is formed that is useful in the treatment of mouth sores or as a gargle to relieve throat pain or a toothache. An essential oil distilled from the hyssop plant is a cure for head lice and relieves the intense itching of lice bites. A poultice of steamed hyssop leaves is an effective remedy for the pain and discoloration of sprains, bruises and muscle injuries. Culinary Use For centuries, hyssop has been used by monks to craft fine liqueurs. Six tablespoons of hyssop liqueur added to ale is said to improve the disposition and the complexion. Fresh hyssop can be used in salads to impart a tangy, bitter taste and is often planted near grape plants to enhance the yield of the vines. Hyssop is frequently added to fruit salads, soups, and sauces to improve the flavor of stone fruits. Cultivation Hyssop adds beauty to the home garden, growing up to three feet tall at maturity. The plant can be started from seed or root division of a plant purchased at the nursery or home and garden supply. The plant is very attractive with dark and shiny long green leaves and an abundance of small white, blue or pink flowers with a delightful fragrance. The blue variety is considered the most fragrant and produces the most flowers. Hyssop likes a dry and sunny location with nutrient rich soil. When gathering leaves and flowers for tea, pick when the first flowers appear.

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Posted by Evelyn Doane on 5/29/2016

garden toolsIf you've ever walked down the garden section of The Home Depot and were amazed at the amount of garden tools you're not alone. For such a simple pastime, gardening has become increasingly complex in recent decades. From small, gas-powered cultivators to electric grass shears, the tranquil art of gardening has been commercialized with all of the latest technology. If you're just keeping a small flower or vegetable garden, there's no need for all the gadgetry. Our ancestors made due for thousands of years with simple tools. Here are the five utilitarian tools that will prove useful in your garden today.

1. The Spade

Let's start with the basics. Every gardener needs a spade. You'll use them when the ice melts to till the soil, you'll use it in early spring to dig holes for your plants, and you'll reach for it in the fall when you're cleaning up after the harvest. A good long-handled spade will last years, require zero maintenance if you keep it out of the rain, and help you multitask in the garden.

2. The Trowel

Like its big brother, the spade, the trowel is also going to help with tasks like digging and mixing soil. But a trowel's small size allows you to work up-close with the delicate plants in your garden. The trowel helps you shape the rows and sculpt the finer details of your garden.

3. The Rake

There are rakes for every purpose.  But for our purposes you can get away with having two for your garden: one leaf rake and either a hand or bow rake. If you're the type to kneel down in the dirt and work closely with your plants and soil, go with the hand rake. If you don't want to do a lot of bending and kneeling a long-handled bow rake is your best bet. Once you've tilled the soil in your garden with a spade, you'll want to rake it even and break up large clumps of dirt with the bow rake. Then throughout the season you can use the leaf rake to clean up debris from plants, nearby trees, and so on.

4. The Shears

Gardening isn't just a matter of putting plants in the ground and watching them grow. For a garden to flourish you'll need to take care of your plants, pruning dead leafs. Some gardeners even prune the first buds of certain vegetable plants to allow the plants more time to grow before they start devoting resources to producing fruit. Good garden shears must be taken care of. Clean them after use, oil the pivot area, and sharpen them once per year to keep them in good working condition.

5. The Watering Can

All would be for naught if it weren't for the watering can. It may seem like an item you don't need to put much thought into. But there are certain things you should look for in a watering can. Firstly, the can should strain water into small streams when you pour it out. This allows you to cover the soil evenly and to avoid dumping a heavy stream of water onto delicate plants. You should also be sure to pick a can that's both big and sturdy. Know your limits; if you don't think you're up to carrying 3-5 gallons of water for prolonged periods go with something smaller and elect to take more trips to the tap.   These five time-tested tools are all you need to keep a healthy garden.