Saturday, May 22, 2010

Yes, there are herbs in the garden!

Nell Jean at Secrets of a Seedscatterer has a neat poll about herbs we grow in our gardens. Reading the post, the poll and the comments had me chuckling, thinking about some of the herbs I have grown.

Someone asked if dill counts as a herb. Most certainly it does, and there are many varieties. As a matter of fact, most plants will qualify as herbs, although we don't think of them as such. Roses are considered herbs, but I'm not gonna cook my chicken with the leaves.....

Some herbs are such thugs, I have to seriously consider how I can grow them before I will plant them. Oregano is one, as is mint of any kind. Lemon balm is another. I often plant herbs in big containers, and watch how they grow for a couple of years before I will plant them in the garden.

Mexican marigold mint isn't really a mint. We call it Texas tarragon. It will layer, but I don't have seedlings everywhere.

Cilantro is grown in my garden for flavoring the Mexican food I like to cook. I let it flower, because I love the pretty white flowers that look like lace waving in the breeze. It is a cool weather herb, and goes to seed quickly as the weather warms. We gather the seeds and save them as comino, or coriander. I grind them with a mortar and pestal to use in my carne guisada. Que rico!

We have garlic, common small garlic, and the Elephant garlic. (Garlic is a manly crop, as are the hot peppers, so the Man grows them.) Chives with delicate onion flavor, and the garlic chives, with the decidedly more robust garlic/onion flavor are both easy to grow.

Rosemary loves our hot sun, as does basil, and tansy. I tuck the thyme under another plant for protection. Sage is the same. Nothing is as good as poultry cooked with fresh sage and thyme...
or fish cooked with rosemary.

Comfrey is used as a medicinal plant here. It is great as a poultice; mash the leaves and apply to minor injuries. ( See a doctor for major injuries...) I don't think people eat comfrey, but it has lovely little pink flowers and big leaves. AND...comfrey is one of those plants that "Once you have it, you always have it." crape myrtles.

Yarrow, wormwood, and horehound are ornamentals here. I grow them in my garden for the foliage. We can grow the common white yarrow, and the horehound grows wild. The wormwood has a pretty grey/green foliage. They are all thugs, and I have to pull them all about every other year. It doesn't matter one whit to them, they are back with abandon very quickly!

Parsley, curly and flat grows well here. My plants are huge, waiting for the butterflies to come eat them. The fennel too, is awaiting the butterflies. It is 4' tall now and beautiful. I wonder how long it will last if we ever get any butterflies...

The lemon grass is growing so fast now that we can almost watch it grow.

Alas, I cannot grow lavender. It does not appreciate our heat and/or humidity.

But I can grow lemon verbena, and I love it! I speak for large groups quite often, and the lemon verbena is fantastic for calming jittery nerves. I break a piece with a couple of leaves, and keep it in my pocket. The fragrance is very pleasing, and a couple of sniffs just calms me right down. Everybody knows who the speaker is; She is the one sniffing the lemon verbena!