Is there anything in this world that smells better than fresh basil? Just the hint of it on the breeze makes me hungry. In fact, sitting here writing about it is making me hungry! At last count I have 4 different kinds of basil growing in my garden: sweet basil, African blue basil, purple basil, and cinnamon basil.
Continuing the herb story which I started here...early on in the gardening adventure I figured out that I had a soft spot for herb seedlings. They are so pretty, smell so good, and have the added bonus of making food taste good! I'm learning more about myself through gardening. I knew I was a planner, but I guess I didn't realize how much time I can invest in thinking a project through -- okay obsessing about a project. Gardening is letting me become more impulsive and experimental, which is a very good thing. And only 2 herbs have been harmed in the process. I've managed to thoroughly kill a golden sage plant and a dill plant so far.
VPH would add here that often when we're sitting on the patio relaxing, I'll be looking around at my bountiful domain and he will claim he can see the smoke coming out of my ears, I'm plotting so hard. I have to admit that sometimes he's right. The herb garden is right next to the patio so I spend a lot of time staring at it.
The earliest version of the herb garden had dill, parsley, rosemary, chives, lavender, and spearmint in the 1/2 barrel with oregano and sweet basil in their own containers. The dill promptly died -- my first casualty, and as I wrote in an earlier post I figured out that putting spearmint in a container with other herbs wasn't a great idea. So I pulled the dead dill, moved the spearmint to its own container and put the parsley in the middle of the 1/2 barrel. Off we went to Van Wilgen's to buy more herbs!
I added a heliotrope (aka cherry pie plant, not an herb, but it was in the herb section and I thought it was pretty -- does not smell like cherry pie to me, more like anise), lemon thyme, and the ill-fated golden sage. Now I had parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme -- I know, I know, I'm a dork. I really wanted purple basil, but there was none to be found. I went back about a week later and literally could not walk out the door without buying an African blue basil and into the barrel it went. The lettuce basket that we let bolt after 3 or 4 cuttings provides the yellow and white flowers in the middle. June 11th:
One of my all-time favorite photos -- the African blue basil in bloom with the heliotrope behind it on June 14th:
A short time later I decided that I needed some cilantro in the herb garden (we made guacamole to bring to a party and had to buy fresh cilantro), but I couldn't find a seedling anywhere. So I tried growing cilantro from seed on my kitchen windowsill (it was still pretty cold out at night). It did well -- too well, way too many seedlings in one little container and I have such a hard time thinning seedlings. I just grew those and now you want me to pull them out to die?! I reluctantly scooped about 1/2 of them out of the little container and planted them in a bare spot in the barrel. Predictably they didn't fare well and I finally found a cilantro seedling and stuck it in on June 17th:
Not long after that I pulled the dead golden sage and replaced it with lemon grass. This is the total herb garden on July 1st (it seems like every week I need to cut the parsley back dramatically to keep it from taking over the whole barrel):
On July 3rd I bought a pot that matched the ones that the sweet basil and oregano are in and planted a brand-new sage plant in it. I then cut back the spearmint dramatically and moved it in its pot over to the wrought iron bar between the tea cup planters.
That same day I concluded that I couldn't let this be the summer of no dill and decided to try again from seed.
Nothing has popped up yet, but I still have high hopes. What are the odds that I could kill 2 generations of dill in the same season. Okay, high, but come on -- root for me! Root for the dill!
Backtracking for a moment, on June 28th I moved the bell pepper from a hanging planter to one of the large containers. With an empty planter I knew just what I wanted to do -- a hanging herb basket!
Clockwise: sweet basil, thyme, purple basil, woolly thyme, chamomile, and in the center golden sage (this photo is from July 8th). I'm so proud of this one. I love the difference in height, texture, and color. I also think this container represents how far I have come in a few short months. I would not have had the courage to try this grouping back in early May. I've already harvested some sweet basil and thyme and I will be very careful not to over water!
This photo is from yesterday:
WHAT CREATURE HAS THE NERVE TO EAT MY REPLACEMENT GOLDEN SAGE? Notice how nothing else has been touched? If I find the culprit I am going to enjoy killing it -- with my bare hands no less!
Finally, here is the herb garden as it stands today. You'll notice that I don't say in final since odds are good that I will feel compelled to fuss with it again before the summer is over. But isn't that what makes gardening so much fun? The garden is ever changing and you are never done.
I included this shot from another angle so you can see how much the cilantro has grown in just over 3 weeks. Those pretty white flowers will go to seed and we'll have coriander -- how cool is an herb that provides 2 distinctly different crops?
Now scroll back up to the first photo and make sure to note how great VPH's grass is coming in on the hill. He is very proud and deservedly so!
You know, looking at this photo the spot at the base of the lemon grass on the left looks a little bare. I wonder what's new on the herb rack at the garden center...
Cherry tomato update:
It was delicious! I brought it inside where it was very carefully cut in half and VPH and I shared it. Sweeter than any cherry tomato I've ever had before. This was quite a relief since I really didn't think I would like the cherry tomatoes since I usually find them quite tart.