The herbs have been enlivened by the warmer, sunny weather, offering up a whiff of fresh aroma as I sit on the stones and pick out the few weeds that managed their way in. The oregano has become quite a thick blanket of ground cover for the bed, entirely flanking the thyme plants in front of them. The edge of the bed doesn’t seem to deter it either, as it snakes its way over the edges of the retaining wall towards the afternoon sun. In the enlarged photo you can see just how dense it has become and how it is now threatening to engulf one of the chives. The great thing about oregano is that it roots easily along its snaking arms, and it is rather easy to propagate because of this. Just snipping off a section that has rooted is enough to grow an entirely new plant. I’m going to cut a few off this weekend if I can make the time – I told my mother in law that I was going to provide some more herbs.
One of the strongest scents I encounter sitting on the stones is that of the curry plants, which are strictly there for their ornamental and olfactory presence. I love Indian food, and the smell of the curry plant reminds me of warm curry dishes. Indian curries are made using a variety of spices and, although they do not use curry powder as is traditionally sold in stores, they use many of the same spices that are contained in the premixed version. The curry plant smells just like that blend. Makes me want a plate of steaming veggie samosas and peshwari naan. Although the plant looks like it has rigid needles, it is a very soft plant, and the slightest touch releases that warm aroma.
The English thyme is also rebounding nicely from its winter hibernation. There for awhile, I was wondering if they were doing okay because they looked brown and, frankly, kinda’ dead. Not so. As you can see, they are covered with bright green growth.
The sage plants were also having a lot of trouble maintaining their foliage over the winter. I’m not sure if that’s normal, or if it was attributed to the increased rainfall. They are starting to show their true color again, too, with tender young leaves all over. I’m sure they’ll be full, bushy plants again soon.
The chives have erupted in a fury of green tentacles rising out of brown, shriveled leaves. I have over twenty more seeds that have sprouted and are temporarily growing in paper pots under lights until I can transplant them. Chive germination is somewhat unique in that one tiny, slender little blade of grass pokes out then sort of unfolds outward.
The marjoram is another strongly perfumed herb and one of my favorite to brush up against. It has become a well-rounded plant since it doesn’t have to compete with the basil plants – currently. I’ll be putting at least one basil plant in the herb garden this year – two last year was way more than I needed. I still have a lot of dried leaves that have lasted me since the other two plants met their demise at the first frost.
Parsley has taken over half a row that I allotted to grow lettuce. There are still two heads under there managing to mature, but I’m going to have to do some trimming on the front side of the plants to get them back towards their space. Again, overkill on the parsley – at least for my uses; however, parsley attracts a few species of beneficial insects, including hoverflies, parasitic wasps and tachinid flies. Those are added bonuses, I really want to keep all of the parsley because it is a food for black swallowtail butterflies.
The several rosemary plants that I have are doing okay. A couple of them have some dark leaves due to being too wet in their containers. Some cuttings got pummeled by thunderstorms, but they’re doing okay now. And the cuttings I planted late last fall are filling out in their pot. I pulled the mother out of the ground as it was almost gone. The corner of the house is not a good place for the rosemary – too much rain spills off the roof and rosemary hates wet feet. I dried what was left and have a good salsa-sized jar of dried leaves for cooking – something I use just about everyday.
We can’t forget the two mint plants that I bought last summer and then cloned a zillion of them. Well, not really a zillion, but maybe ten, which have multiplied to about a zillion now. The spearmint is definitely the more aggressive of the two, while the peppermint struggles.
For nostalgia’s sake, here is the freshly planted garden:
I have several Mexican mint marigold plants that I’ll add to the herb mix in the coming weeks. I have three or four that I grew from seed and a couple other plants I picked up at a local nursery. I’ve not tried growing it before, but it is a Texas Native, and can be used just like french tarragon in recipes. I have a rich, creamy mushroom, caper and tarragon sauce I like to make to put over pasta and I’m sure this will be a great, homegrown substitute.