I was out in garden today, weeding my herb garden – in the rain. Well it wasn’t really raining, just a light drizzle that doesn’t feel like much, but it isn’t until you come inside that you realise just how wet you actually are. It has been like it off and on all day, but it isn’t a good deep satisfying rain that will soak deep into the ground, it is more like a waft of moisture barely kissing the soil. But even that is better than nothing as I was rummaging around on my hands and knees pulling weeds here and there I really began to appreciate just how dry the soil was.
The poor herb garden was completely over grown and mostly gone to seed. It is quite a large garden to house just my herbs and each year I pop in some fresh seedlings of basil, parsley, dill and coriander and they do just fine. Although this year not so much as they ended up being overshadowed by spontaneous purchases from the herb section of the garden centre. I blame it on the garden centre – if they didn’t have their 3 for $10 herb special offer, then I would have walked away with what I actually needed and not a collection of things to make up the numbers.
Once I get home with my new purchases I plant them exactly where you would expect me to – in the herb garden. Where else would I put them? How big could they possibly get? A lot of the wonderful images scattered across the great big internet have herb gardens in spirals, plant pots, pellets, window boxes and various hanging arrangements, so the expectation is that most herbs stay quite petite.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case at all. Most herbs, in my experience rage out of control throughout the growing season. Even my gentle sweet basil, parsley, coriander and dill put on quite a height before bursting into seed and giving up for the year.
Others are a bit sneakier. The oregano, thyme and lemon balm stretch out and wherever their branches connect with the soil they secretly put down a few roots, establishing themselves well beyond where I would like them to be. I guess that is why they call these kinds of plants creepers. I was already onto the mint – it isn’t in the herb garden, but in what I thought was a well contained spot at the back door. Currently it is attempting so set a record circumnavigating the house!
Then there are the others that seem innocuous enough – I mean how can a root crop spread? Well horseradish spreads – a lot! I popped a small punnet smack bang in the middle of the bed and then the very next day found out from two different sources that it spreads. I thought “It’ll be fine…” Then watched it grow large flamboyant leaves and well and truly establish itself in the centre of the garden. I have still yet to have horseradish sauce on a wonderful Sunday roast beef as the price of a roast beef has escalated quite dramatically and I can’t justify the cost. I’m in two minds about pulling it out as the beef could be on special one day. Does horseradish actually have any other uses aside from adding a bit of zing to a well-cooked hunk of beef?
Although I do have to say – this year the horseradish was overshadowed and it didn’t like it. It’s leaves lost all their lustre. The surprizing usurper as king of the herb garden was the lemon grass. I’ve grown it before and it was quite mild mannered and petite enough to live happily in a spiral. This year must have been ideal conditions for it as it is huge and graceful leaves that make a delightful rustling sound in the wind. We really need to eat a lot more Thai style food to get through it all. Such a delicious problem to have.
So much for my orderly well trained herb garden. If I had my time over again I would plan things a little better. I would take the time to find out just how big each plant does actually grow in an ideal season, instead of popping them in and hoping for the best. I’d only plant what I actually wanted, and what we are actually likely to eat on a regular basis. And I’d have more self-control at the garden centre… Oh who am I kidding. Garden centres are dangerous places.
Come again soon – I’ve put even more thought into my garlic – I refuse to fail again.
Sarah the Gardener : o)