Tuesday, June 21, 2011

An herb garden in the making

An experiment in the making: my first herb garden.

I mentioned in my last post that I have a handful of different herbs growing (or attempting to grow) in pots on my deck. I don't have much experience with growing potted plants (heck, I don't have a lot of experience growing plants in the ground, either!), so I'm learning as I go.

I took a cooking class at Kiss Z Cook earlier this spring called "Cooking with Fresh Herbs," in the hopes that it would inspire me and teach me something about how to use my coming crops.

I'll just say that it didn't meet my expectations. If I'd been out to just cook some recipes in a group setting, I'd have considered it a successful evening. But I was looking for more educational, informational instruction, and I didn't get that at all.

The good news: I paid for the class with a Groupon that saved me more than 50%, so that helped to lessen my disappointment.

Ironically, just a couple weeks later, I went to a free (magic word) gardening fair at the county fairgrounds, hosted by the local Master Gardener's association, and I specifically went at a time when they were presenting a 30-minute session on growing, preserving, and using fresh herbs. This free session knocked the socks off the expensive cooking class. The presenter spoke completely without notes, purely from years of experience, and I took several pages of notes on her recommendations.

Fast forward to mid June, and my basil and oregano look great, but the cilantro and parsley aren't flourishing quite as much. I do love walking past them every day on my way to and from work, checking in to see how things are doing. I've especially enjoyed seeing the pattern in which the basil leaves grow. Leaves appear in 180° pairs, then the next pair grows on top of the previous pair -- but at a perfect 90° angle. I love the order and symmetry of it.

This is actually the basil pot where my toad couple spent the evening last week. I haven't seen the two of them together again (hope they're not on the outs), but their visit doesn't seem to have hampered this basil!

Finally, this cilantro seedling is s-l-o-w-l-y making progress. I like how delicate it is at this stage, yet completely recognizable.

I'm going to keep coaxing these along, and I can't wait to use some. I want to make pesto, salsa...

Are you growing any herbs? What are your favorite ways to use them?

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