Sunday, May 16, 2010

Adventures in Herb Gardening

While in the Poconos this weekend, I was sitting outside with my family and a young guy in his early twenties walked over to the picnic table carrying a potted plant in each hand. One plant looked like a prickly pear cactus and the other, a scraggly green plant of some sort. He went on to tell my step-sister how he found the cactus partially uprooted and nearly dead in some rocks in the woods, and then managed to transplant it. He was showing us how well it was doing. Apparently, the prickly pear cactus, the state cactus of Texas and found throughout the Southwest is the only natively grown cactus in Pennsylvania (and the eastern United States and southern Canada). I grew up in this area, hiked, camped and never knew cactus grew here. I figured it would be too cold.

The other plant he was giving to my step-sister was sage for her herb garden and gave her a few suggestions for cooking. So the topic of herb gardens started which gave me an idea. I’ve been looking at the bare small patio area by my back door and trying to figure out what to do with it. Why not put in a potted herb garden? And a few potted flowers?

I was told all I need are large pots, (Herbs need a lot of space because they can grow fast) good potting soil, organic fertilizer, water and at least four hours of sun. Sounds easy? Hmmm. Right.

Considering most of my daffodils didn’t come up this year and I can’t figure out why, this may be a waste of time. But I’m not entirely a failure at gardening. I have a few things that grow well. Lavender grows like weeds and my hydrangea are huge (I did kill them one year with fertilizer but they came back.) The iris's are looking good too and black-eyed susans want to take over the garden by the end of summer.

What herbs to grow? I’ll try a few to start. I’ll pick a couple from this list: Rosemary, Sage, Mint, Oregano, Marjoram, Basil, Thyme, Tarragon, Savory, Cilantro, Chives, Dill, and Parsley.

Herbs can be used for cooking, teas, healing purposes, or made into fragrant potpourris. Or grown for the added variety of colors and textures in the garden.

Some of the uses for herbs: Basil is one of my favorites, especially mixed with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, but it is also said to be an anti-inflammatory.

Mint can be dried and brewed into teas that may soothe stomachaches.

Parsley is high in iron and vitamins A, B, C and trace minerals.

Thyme has been used for its infection-fighting and cough suppressive qualities. Thyme tea is an old time cough and hangover remedy.

Lavender—I like to snip the flowers, place them in a mesh bag and tuck them under my pillow to help me sleep.

I’ll start shopping for my supplies and let you know how my herb garden does.



Amber Skyze said...

I do not have a green thumb. I've been known to kill a cactus or two in my time. :(

Kathy Kulig said...

Usually I'm not that great with plants. I forget to water them. Still I like to see thngs growing in my garden.