It is this time of year again – dreaming, planning, sorting and buying the items that will become the fabric of a new season. It usually takes a bit of effort to orchestrate a well-functioning garden full of things that will actually get eaten. In the past, the lure of the strange and unusual have drawn me in, but become a hurdle in the kitchen. I need to be strict with myself and grow what I know we will eat and enjoy. It also helps to do a bit of research first to know the best way to eat things, and add this to the plant label to make it easy later on. Although I do have a bed for some fun things so it isn’t all a practical exercise.
Figuring out where to put each plant can be a bit like a game of Tetris. It is really important to know how something grows so you know how much space to plan for it and if it is short or tall determines where in the garden it should be – in the front or the back. The challenge is to fit in everything you want to grow without overcrowding. Added to this is the challenge of crop rotation to avoid nutrient depletion in the soil and disease build up. I’m not even going to look at companion planting for fear my head would actually fall off! Every year I sit there with my garden map and my seed packets and confuse myself wholeheartedly before emerging with a plan that makes sense. The key from this point is to stick to the plan and that is the hard bit.
Working logically across the garden I begin the planning with Sector One.
Bed One – The Herb Garden
This doesn’t really have a lot of structure, and historically I’ve just plonked things in – but the trouble is some things are there for a long time, making change difficult. So, with the perennials there are some that are staying put:
Pizza Thyme, Garlic Chives, Chives, Oregano, Rosemary, Summer Savory and Sorrel
I’m going to whip out the Lemongrass and will buy a nice pot to put it in. It’ll look fab. I’ve decided to remove the Lemon Balm and replace it with Lemon Verbena and pop it near the back as it can get tall-ish. The Lemon Balm is a spreader and therefore high maintenance, so if I can save myself a few moments here and there then I’ll take it.
I need to buy new Sage and French Tarragon as they have both died – well I assume the Tarragon has died because there is no trace of it. Couldn’t possibly have been aliens! And of course, the new Verbena plant as these are better this way.
I also need get new Parsley before the current one bolts. I currently have curly leaf so I’m thinking of a new one of these and a flat leaf variety. The flat one is supposed to have more flavour but the curly one is prettier on the plate, so I shall have both. You can grow these from seed but there is an old wives’ tale about it needing to visit the Devil nine times before it sprouts – which is supposed to be an explanation about why it takes so long to germinate. I’d much rather have more angelic goings on in my garden so I’ll just get some seedlings that have seen the light. But then I’m running the risk getting pregnant if I plant seedlings… hmmm these old wives’ tales are a bit of a minefield!
The annuals that will grace my herb bed will be the old favourites:
Basil, Dill, Coriander and Stevia.
Although I can’t tell the kids where the Stevia is as they stand in the garden and strip all the leaves off the plant. I don’t think they’ll suspect it in the herb garden as for the last few years it has been everywhere but there. I will need to check the seeds I have, make sure they are still fresh and viable or I may need to buy some more. With the removal of the lemongrass there was a space in the bed so I’m going to try Cumin seeds as we use a lot of this in our cooking.
And so far, so good – the planning seems to be going ok. Only the rest of sector one and the other 4 sectors to go… I think I may need a wee lie down, my head is beginning to spin.
Since we got back from our tropical holiday the rain that apparently plagued the garden while we were away has continued to fall, so I’m more than happy to turn an indoor wet weather day into a day of productive action. Join me throughout the rest of the week as I continue to sort out what has the potential to be my best garden ever.
Come again soon – it can’t possible rain forever can it? I’m hoping for a dry summer.
Sarah the Gardener : o)