an unexpected surprise in the herb patch

I took this photo in the evening, hoping the camera’s flash would demonstrate just how shiny the flat-leaf parsley is.   I only realized there was a feather in the shot after I loaded it onto the computer.  The birds do love to hang out in the herbs.  And who can blame them? If I was that tiny, I’d sit down in a bed of mint, basil or lavender any day.  Probably every day.

I’m pleased with the performance of my herbs this year.  I did provide them with a little fertilizer specifically intended for herbs (all organic, of course), and early in the season I gave them several doses of a foliar spray of combined kelp meal and fish “emulsion,” which they seemed to love.  I generally paid a little more attention to them this year than usual, and I’ve been rewarded with cosmetically perfect specimens that have a lot of flavor.

Herbs are so easy, though, you can just plant and forget about them until you need to snip a bite.  I highly recommend the traditional herbs for beginners, especially chives, oregano, rosemary, basil and dillCilantro is also easy to grow, but can be tricky as it tends to bolt (set seed, meaning its leaves are useless for cuisine) as soon as it gets hot.

I’ve never had any difficulty with thyme, but I do know several people who claim it is impossible to grow.  The key for me with thyme is to not use any of it the first year I plant it.  I just basically ignore it, no matter how sick and defeated it looks.  Once I was sure my thyme plant was dead, and I still ignored it.  The next year it had tripled in size and was healthy and lovely and frothy with pale lavender blossoms, just like the classic English cottage garden plant pictured on the seed packet.

Mint is easy – but dangerous for the beginner.  Spearmint might be the original invasive plant.  Just be sure when you plant your mint that you want to have mint growing in that spot, and the surrounding area, forever.  Forever.

So yes, herbs are easy, unless you’re trying to grow herbs unsuited to your climate, such as Lovage, which we’re trying to grow to use in recipes from F.’s native country, and which looks like it’s been stomped and thrown up on.  Every time I look at that poor, pitiful plant, I’m sure it’s perpetually wishing evil things on us for planting it in the hellishly hot and humid climate of South Carolina.  Poor thing looks miserable.

And while we’re on the subject of herbs, I’m giving you folks until midnight (Eastern Standard time) Wednesday (September 2) to get your responses to the contest in.  This is the contest where I asked you to guess why sage was called “sage.”  Not one person has e-mailed me yet in reference to the contest.  So you’ve got a pretty good chance at winning if you do e-mail me at all.  If I receive no e-mails, I reserve the right to act like an imperious goddess and choose a winner based on my own unfathomable criteria.

I guess I should’ve offered something like a KitchenAid Mixer to get some serious responses.  Heirloom seeds only push my buttons, apparently.  (A friend suggests I should ask questions requiring less thought.  Or just have people sign their name in the comments, something requiring zero investment.  But that’s just not fair to my loyal readers, who are all brilliant and creative individuals, I’m convinced.  It must be that they’re all too busy being brilliant and creative in real life to waste time on a blog contest with low stakes.)

Anyway, I will go on and give my answer and the results in a sparkling, witty post — or at least a post — on Thursday.

Don’t forget to e-mail your answer to gardenforvictory<at>  (Obviously, replace the <at> with an @.)  I’ll take answers from the comments section if I must!

Good luck, y’all!

One Response to “an unexpected surprise in the herb patch”

  1. Hey, M.E.!

    Love this post, though it makes me miss my community garden plot in Boston. Here in Chicago, plots are harder to come by, but I am hoping to have an outlet for growing herbs and vegetables next year.

    We had the same luck with thyme, so I support your good advice to plant and leave it alone for a year. Fellow gardeners will be rewarded for their patience!

    Hope you are getting a great harvest. Thanks for commenting over on Shallots Web, I really appreciate the feedback.

    Happy blogging (and photogging!),

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