|After 2013 heavy rain|
I haven't tended to my garlic patch enough to get a good start of 'modern' garlic. There are a few growing from the patch I harvested last summer, but they are small and few. What is growing is what I call my 'old fashioned' garlic. I have two patches. One came from a neighboring homestead where it has been growing for at least 40 years, and the other came from a fence row by an old church. I don't know how long it has been growing there. Both of these older varieties are growing very well after only one year. I think I will stick with them instead of the more common smaller leafed varieties.
Let me back up for a minute. When we moved here six years ago, I increased my book collection for growing, harvesting and using medicinal herbs. From this collection of books, I planned out the herbs I wanted to grow along with their preferred locations, soil types, sun/shade requirements and companion planting needs. From this I made a 'map' of my herb bed, or what I dreamed my herb bed would become. It is now very wrinkled and stained from being stuck in my pocket so many times when I am out digging or planting. I knew that I would need a way to identify each plant until I
learned what they were since I have never grown many of these plants before. We came up with using wooden builders stakes with the name of the plant painted on with black enamel paint. Now some of the stakes have been in the ground long enough that the bottoms are rotting off, so eventually I will need to find something more permanent, but for now this works. This year as I add more plants to the bed, I get out my beautiful (to me) wrinkled, scribbled on map to see where each plant should go. This little piece of paper represents dreams come true to me. It's the culmination of long-term dreaming, planning and working toward a goal. So, on with the tour.
Next we have the peppermint which is spreading everywhere, as it is prone to do.
I have two leeks. I know that is funny, but they have come back after last year. I would like to have a patch of them so I will leave them and see if they go to seed and spread. I have done this with several plants hoping to create a self-seeding bed of the annuals I have planted.
The multiplier, or walking onions are right next door. They are doing okay for a small patch. I hope they 'multiply' much more this summer so I can start harvesting some next year.
The marjoram is doing great. It has been here for three years now. It almost dies off in the winter, but not all the way. Once the weather warms up a bit, it comes right back and spreads a little more each year. It is a beautiful plant. The parsley that I let go to seed right next door has yet to show any signs of coming up so I probably need to replant it. I know the seeds are very slow to germinate and the weather has been unseasonably cold, so I haven't given up hope of seeing them start to grow.
The lemon balm is just beautiful. What else can I say?
The rosemary turned a little brown during our very cold winter. I have been thinking of trimming it back and letting it regrow itself.
The elderberries I planted last year are doing very well. I added two more plants that I ordered this year. The more I read about elderberry syrup for coughs and colds, the more I want to make sure I have a good stand of it.
The green tea is growing well since I planted it last summer. I think the elderberries may want to invade this space, but I will keep it at bay enough to let the tea have it's spot. You will notice that many of my plants are fairly close together. That is by design. I hope to fill this entire bed with wall to wall plants. If my entire dream does come true I will have to pull a few up to keep some walkways available. That would be great.
I have two kinds of sage growing. One of them has been here for two years, the other was planted last summer, and both were started from seed.
In between the comfrey and garlic I am adding some chamomile and savory this year. The chamomile is both German and Roman. I wanted to see which one does better in this location and growing zone.
The chives that were planted here by the garlic last summer came back up which surprised me. I hope they will become a regular site each year now.
This is a witch hazel bush. It has been here for three years now and still isn't very big or tall. It is a slow growing plant.
The horseradish is doing great, it spreads a little each year. I think it has been here for three years now.
I have added some dill between the lemon balm and the horseradish. I also plan to plant more dill to see if I can get a bigger patch established.
A few years ago I planted cilantro here. It promptly went to seed and died. I thought that was the end of it. Last summer I was out pulling weeds an came upon this plant that looked a little familiar and out of place. I almost pulled it up, but stopped to smell a leaf first, when I realized the cilantro had reseeded itself. That was great! The only problem is it doesn't like our hot weather and goes to seed way before my tomatoes and peppers are ready to make salsa. It has come up again this year, and I have added two more plants to enlarge the patch. I am going to try drying it to use in my salsa this year so I don't have to buy any. Last year I bought some for one batch of salsa, but for the second batch, I used the seeds, which are called coriander. They tasted okay, but Frank and I prefer the leaf flavor, so this will be one of my new experiments.
The oregano has come back this year for the third time, so I think I can count on it being here.
Last year I let my basil go to seed hoping it would come back, but so far, there are no signs of it. I have added rue, savory, swiss chard and arugula as new plants this year. We will see how they do.
Right after I planted this catnip, along came Brother. I have never had catnip and cats together before so his behavior was very interesting. He started rubbing and chewing on it right away. Then he went over and laid out on his back all stretched out. It was funny.
This old stump is kind of a decoration, but it is actually sitting here waiting for some wild yams to grow on it. I have yet to get any of the seeds I've bought to germinate, but I will keep trying.
I have probably missed a few plants, but I will keep you updated on the progress of this project. I hope to start harvesting and storing herbs from this bed this summer, so I have much more to learn. I'll let you know what works and what doesn't as I go along. The next thing I need to create for myself is a calendar or schedule of harvesting times. I know some plants need to be picked before they bloom, or others have blooms that need to be picked at a particular stage to receive the most benefit from the plant. There is always much to learn and do and I am ready to get at it. I believe this will be an invaluable skill in our future, and I do know, that I don't know enough at this stage.
Until next time - Fern