Herb Update

“Herb Update”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

A gift we received at Christmas time was the Aerogarden.  I am sure you have seen these on TV.  On January 6th, I wrote about how the seeds had sprouted, and the little seedlings seemed to be doing well.  I guess it is time for an update since the tiny little seedlings have grown a bit more.

The seeds were planted on December 30th and here is how some looked by January 6th.

  

Purple Basil
Purple Basil
 
 
Mint

Mint

 
Dill

Dill

 

As you can see, they were very tiny, and the dill was only one thin thread.  Here is how it looks today.

 
 
aerogarden-redu1
 
 
The last seeds to germinate was the cilantro.  It was supposed to come in 8 to 14 days, but it took almost three weeks.  So, this is how the Aerogarden is looking after four weeks.  As I wrote before, we have had to place this in the laundry room where it is a little on the cool side right now, so that may account for the plants not being any bigger.  They are coming along, though, especially the Italian basil, parsley, and mint.  So far, everything seems to be growing  fine, I’ll keep you updated on our hydroponic experiment.

Herb Seedling Update

“Herb Seedling Update”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

A few days back I wrote about an AreoGarden that we received as a gift.  It is designed to sprout and grow these little cups of preplanted seeds hydroponically.  As I said then, I want to use just the grow lights for my own seed plantings.  However, the herb seeds were set up when we brought it home, and here is an update.

 

The seeds are supposed to sprout in 3 to 14 days depending on the type of herb.  The parsley – nothing.  The cilantro – I can see the swollen seeds, but no growth showing.  The chives – a teeny, tiny bit of green showing.

 

The Italian basil has sprouted several plants which look good and healthy.

 

italian-basil-redu

 

The purple basil is looking good, too.

 

purple-basil-redu

 

The dill has sprouted one seed showing a thin, tiny plant.

 

dill-redu

 

And, finally, the mint has produced several seedlings.

 

mint-redu

 

As you can see from these few, paltry seedlings there won’t be a Jan’s Herb Farm starting anytime soon.  Well, at least I know that seeds will sprout with the AeroGarden, and it does give me something green to look at and play with until I can get outside and work in my real garden.

Seasonal Seasoning

“Seasonal Seasonings”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

Because our property has so many tall pine trees which makes most of the area, at best, partial shade, I do not grow many edibles.  The few, that are grown, are in containers usually on the patio where there is more sun.  One of the best I have grown is the bay leaf.

I started out with just a seven inch plant and now the tree is about three feet tall.  An evergreen, it is now just about the right size to start adding a little something to the garden.  This culinary plant is an easy to grow but slow growing tree which eventually can reach up to 40 feet tall.  I remember a neighbor of my parents had one and that tree must have been at least 2o feet tall.  I think it will take my little guy a long time to reach that height at the rate it is growing now.

 

bay-leaf-tree-crop-redu

 

 

I have plans to keep it pruned to shrub size.  These plants take very well to pruning which is done in the spring.  Of course, taking some leaves for cooking is also a form of pruning.  It is recommended that for the first two years that leaves be taken only sparingly.

 

These plants grow well in containers.  Mine is still in a container, and I am still trying to decide if I want to plant it in the ground or not.  I am thinking this would look nice in an urn shaped planter.  That way, it would be easier to keep it pruned to a pyramid shape.  It would also be more accessible to the kitchen if it was in a container.

 

The Bay Laurel makes a great addition to cooking as well as the garden.  Many culinary herbs are not the most attractive plants, but the Bay Leaf’s  beautiful, shiny, dark green leaves makes it a handsome addition to the garden.

 

Curry Plant

“Curry Plant”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

A few weeks ago when I visited several nurseries, I came across curry plants (helichrysum italicum) at two of the nurseries.  I had never seen these offered before.  They were in the herb sections, and I wondered why, all of a sudden, two nurseries were offering them.  When the leaves are brushed the aroma of curry is unmistakable, but this is not the curry of Indian cuisine.  That curry is a blend of many spices, and this one, while it does have medicinal uses, is reported not to taste very good.

Except for new growth which is light green, this plant has a dusty gray appearance.  I was a little hesitant to buy it because fuzzy, gray-green foliage plants often do not do survive long in our high humidity and heat, but so far this is doing well.  I have it in a raised bed where it gets plenty of sun.  It is reported to be hardy to zone 8, and the blooms are yellow which is good since I have planted it in the circle garden which has mostly yellow flowers.  It should get about two feet tall.  Except for color and, of course aroma, the leaves remind me of rosemary. 

Ah, but the smell of the leaves when they are brushed is wonderful.  That is what sold me on this plant.

Pina Colada, Anyone?

This post, “Pina Colada, Anyone?” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

There is one plant that always reminds me of pina coladas every time I touch it.  The heavenly-scented herb I am referring to is pineapple sage( Salvia elegans).  It can make a hot summer day seem cooler by just rubbing your hands on the foliage and releasing that cool, pineapple scent.  But, that’s not all, it makes a great garnish on pina coladas and pineapple sherbet and can be used to make an herbal tea.

The fantastic aroma isn’t the only nice thing about this plant.  It has dozens and dozens of bright red blossoms that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.  Down South it will start blooming in the early summer.   It also grows very quickly and makes a nice mounded plant about three feet high.

I have grown the regular variety for years, and it just can’t be beat.  It is a tender perennial which is supposed to be hardy to 20 degrees, but I have had it overwinter with no problems.  Of course, I cover the base with a thick layer of pine straw.  I have read where it often will return from the roots after a hard freeze.  It is very easy to propagate this sage.  Cuttings root quickly in water; they have also layered themselves in the garden.

Last year I found a variety called “Golden Delicious” which has chartreuse to gold leaves.  I planted this in the same bed with a Marguerite sweet potato vine, and the two complemented each other nicely.  I cut back the frost damaged stems in late December, and already it has put out a tremendous amount of new growth.

This is a great plant to have in your garden, just make sure you have it where you can reach out easily to rub the leaves to release that pina colada smell.