Archive for the ‘My herb garden’ Category

A Wreath of Herbs

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

August, and by now I start to run out of ideas of what else to do with the herbs that grow so abundantly in the garden. What I didn’t use in the kitchen has made it into the freezer, or has been dried and put up in jars, and still there is an abundance out there. It seems the more the herbs are cut back the more energetic they will grow. So, I thought it might be time for a fun project, something not necessarily useful, yet fun to do and nice to look at once the weather turns from beautiful sunny days to a drizzly, foggy mess . . . yuck, we will need cheering up then, and what could be better than a reminder of summer!

I use only natural materials, no metal or plastic, the main reason for that is that when I am tired of the wreath I can simply toss the whole thing onto the mulch pile.

It is really quite simple to make; the base is formed from a plyable branch – hazel, willow or the like work well – bend it into a circle overlapping the ends, and tie with bast or thin vines so it will hold the shape. Don’t worry too much if it does not appear to be perfectly round. Then wind whatever herbs please you around that frame, the first rows may need to be tied, after that simply stick the stems through the wreath. If you have sage, use that to start the whole thing off. Twigs of sage add fullness and hide the branch at the core of the wreath quickly, plus the leaves dry in interesting shapes and the smell is fantastic. Then add whatever pleases you, I love the fragrance of wild marjoram and thyme, so that is a must for me, but there is no limit to what can be used. When you are done with a session hang the wreath in an airy spot in the shade. I find myself adding to the wreath whenever something in the garden catches my eye, I like splashes of color to add interest, and when it comes to pretty I am not purist enough to limit my selections to herbs. So, try it out, it is really a lot of fun.


Sunday, August 3rd, 2008

If there ever were a contest held about the most persnickety of all plants, dill would win hands down. The seed packets use words such as hardy, easy to cultivate, grows in any soil, do not believe it! They make that stuff up, I am convinced. Not about everything, but definitely when it comes to dill. A real shame too, given the fragile grace of its leaves, the fabulous fragrance it emits from only the slightes touch, and the unbeatable flavor dill adds to so many dishes. If only it would grow as promised. Some people very nicely advise the unsuspecting gardener to plant dill in a warm spot, protected from wind. I tried that too. I painstakingly prepared a sunny spot in the garden for the seeds, not the tiniest stone to be found, nothing but good, crumbly earth. I spread the seeds, covered them with earth, sprinkled them on top, watered them, watched and waited. Nothing, unless you want to count some excellent specimen of dandelions and other not so desirables. But a dedicated gardener does  not give up. So I bought a number of seed packets, and spread the contents around the garden, regardless of wind, sun, or soil. And wouldn’t you know it, in the middle of the rose bed, mixed in with marigolds and cosmos, under the leaves of the pumpkins, dill! So I guess dill is not as much ornery as it is an individualist amongst the plants. When it decides it likes a spot the persistent gardener will be rewarded for a long time with this wonderful herb. Dill supposedly also aids in curing digestive trouble and relieving gas, which is just perfect. It may come in handy by the time dill has finally found its perfect spot in your garden.

My Herb Garden

Friday, July 25th, 2008

What better time than the late days of fall and warm days of early winter, before the heavy frosts set in, to prepare the soil for the coming growing season. Sounds easy, sounds like fun, all that fresh air, you get some exercise in the process and hopefully healthful vegetables in the coming spring and summer. I was ready to rock and roll, I was quite confident, probably humming some little tune, as I got my tools from the shed, and set out to get things ready for the seeds that were already taking up a fair amount of space on our kitchen window (I am speaking of seeds in packets here, nothing sprouting yet). Things moved along smoothly for a few minutes until the spade hit something unyielding about halfway in.  Similar results a little further over. Stones, big stones, most of them more like rocks, lay waiting just below the layer of earth that I tried to turn. I’ll spare you the details, but it is amazing how quickly your muscles build up . I also learned that you have to move the stones further away from the area you are working in, otherwise you trip over them. Duh! At some point in the near future we are planning to build a wall, nothing all that high, but now there is this rather impressive pile of stones stacked nearby. Waste not want not, or something like it.

Since the work I had planned turned out to be more labor and time intensive than originally anticipated, when spring came I had only a fraction of my garden ready to plant. I needed a reward for my labors though, something that would show quick results, some plants that could be harvested soon. What could be better than herbs!

I had about a yard’s width of prepared good soil next to the path, and I could not wait to get something going. A friend had given me some cuttings of her rosemary the previous fall, miraculously they had all taken, so they were the first to take up residence. Next came thyme, parsley, oregano and marjoram, and of course chives. I added mint, a fabulous addition to a cups of tea or a glass of water, then cilantro, and it seemed I could not pass a display of plants without something getting added to the herb garden. The plants are now amazingly happy and healthy, with an occasional application of nettle tea as organic fertilizer the amount of herbs we can use in our kitchen does not make a dent in what is growing.

I have seen pictures of well designed gardens, where all the plants are neatly lined up in rows, with enough space between that allows easy access. My garden does not fit that mold. In my garden the plants mingle quite happily, the pink blossoms of oregano are intertwined with the tiny violet-blue flowers of ‘hyssopus officionalis’ (Hyssop, an herb native to the southern parts of Europe and Asia, an excellent addition to salads). Yellow marigolds peek out between them, bellflowers and summer asters, they all coexist beautifully.  It makes me smile just looking at them.