Monday, April 30, 2012

A Gift from Miss C!

Because of Earth Day last week, lots of school kids planted trees.  A really good thing.  Miss C gifted us her tree.  I think it is a white pine and they get HUGE!  So The Herbal Husband is trying the bonsai technique of keeping it in a small container and maybe it will stay small?!  Oh well, it is probably hardy enough to stay outside once it gets a little bigger.  OK, one last push for voting me your top gardening blog on  Voting ends at 5:00 PM EST today.  One vote per visitor.  So if you have already voted, thanks for reading my blog and voting.  Need to give you my last list tomorrow, tender perennials.  Got errands to do and so got to try out the new car!  Talk to you later.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

First Radish Harvest!

One of my favorite radishes is French Breakfast.  Here is the first of many this season.  I did a post one year about pickling the enormous amount of radishes we got.  Here is the link for that post.  Very, very easy to do and you know me it has to be easy.

We bought a new car today.  It is hard to find a station wagon any more.  They are either very expensive or they don't make them.  Our local dealer literally got our car in on Thursday.  We stopped in on Friday and test drove it (It passed!) and picked it up today.  I have gone German with VW.  I learned to drive a stick on a VW beetle.  Brings back wonderful memories.  Car buying always is stressful for me.  That's why I married The Herbal Husband.  Remember he taught statistics in college.  I knew I had to marry him!  That side of my brain isn't working to this day!  I did flunk every math course in high school and dummy me had to take them again in summer school.  Math makes my brain freeze!  Ha!   Hope you are having a great day.  It is down right cold outside.  It tried to rain ice pellets on my new car!  I'll talk to you later.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Above and Beyond Blooming!

This is supposed to a dwarf viburnum called 'Newport'.  It didn't quite get the message!  It was supposed to be in the four foot range so it wouldn't necessarily block the view of the garden!  Oops!   I guess our mild winter made it even happier.  The only thing missing from the shrub is fragrance.  The Herbal Husband said to me the other day imagine if this bush was fragrant.  It is still amazingly beautiful.  Hope you are having a great day.  If you'd like to I have been nominated by as top gardening blog.  There will be three picked.  So click on the badge at the top of my home page and vote.  The voting ends at 5:00 PM EST on Monday, April 30, 2012.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A List of Annual Herbs

I wanted to add to the list of perennials I gave a few weeks ago with a list of annual herbs.  These herbs can be planted early for those of you who live in the southern parts of the United States.  Gardeners in the northern parts of the US have to wait for warmer temperatures to plant some of these because of frost dangers.  Any of the herbs that I am calling tender perennial for the northern parts of the US, should be perennial for gardeners in the southern parts of the US.  Everyone should be using these annuals to enhance their herb gardens because the flowers I have chosen bloom almost all summer long.  Annuals are grouped into three categories based on how they tolerate cold weather:  hardy, half-hardy or tender.  Hardy annuals tolerate low temperatures and even frost.  Half-hardy annuals tolerate a light frost but will be killed by a heavy one.  Tender annuals have no frost tolerance and suffer if the temperature drops to a few degrees above freezing.  This list is alphabetical by botanical name.  I know some of you do not like the botanical name, but if you know the botanical name, it is the same in any language.  It is important to learn them.

Dill (Anethum graveolens) is easily started from seed in full sun.  You should plant succession plantings to provide lots of leaves.  I personally love dill.  It brings a lot of beneficial insects into the garden, especially the striped caterpillars that become black swallowtail butterflies.  Compact varieties are ‘Bouquet’ and ‘Fernleaf’.  Slow bolting varieties are ‘Tetra’ or ‘Dukat’.  Harvest leaves at 12” and harvest seeds when they turn brown.  Depending on the variety you can use it in the front for the compact varieties or in a container.  The larger varieties should be in the back of the border.  You can see a photo of dill in bloom in this post that I wrote in 2011 called Growing Dill.

Chervil (Anthriscus cereifolium) does better in cool, mild weather.  It can stand a bit of shade.  It bolts in the heat.  I have heard it called French parsley.  It has a mild anise flavor with white flowers.  You should sow seeds in spring and fall and make sure you plant it where you want it to grow because it is difficult to transplant.  It isn’t very tall.  I would say about the size of a parsley plant.  I do not grow it enough in the garden.  It would do well in a container or in the front of the border.

Borage (Borago officinalis) is in my garden called an herbal space hog.  Borage needs full sun and does not do as well in shade.  It is easily sown from seed.  It is a prolific self sower.  I’m picking seedlings out of prime vegetable gardening space as we speak.  Young leaves are cucumber scented and can be used in salads if you can get passed the fuzziness.  Has beautiful star shaped flowers that start pink (Thought I had the wrong plant!) and then turn to blue.  You need to keep pinching it back if you don’t like floppy plants or stake it.  The flowers can be frozen in ice cube trays for summer drinks.  It is a back of the border kind of herb.  It does have a way of sneaking up to the front.  Here is a post I did called An Herbal Space Hog.

Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is a very easy annual to grow from seed and once established, it will self-sow very gently around the garden.  It grows up to 18” tall.  Calendulas also do better in mild, cool weather in full sun or light shade.  You should keep deadheading the flowers to keep them blooming.  It is called poor man’s saffron because in the olden times it was used to color food like saffron does with a golden yellow color.  It does not give a saffron flavor.  Calendulas are also an edible flower.  Use the petals to decorate a salad.  I also add the petals to cookies.  Plant these in the middle or front of the herb border.
Check out what I wrote about calendulas on my blog called  Herb of the Year-Calendula.

Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides) is a plant that you only need one of in the garden.  It will reseed if it likes where it is planted.  It will grow well in full sun or part shade.  It will also do well in morning sun with afternoon shade.  It is a very pungent (camphor) smelling herb and is used freshly chopped in the last 10 minutes of cooking a pot of beans to take away the gas.  Here is a link for a post I wrote about epazote called appropriately enough E is for Epazote.  It would be good in the back of the border.

Cilantro/Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is a mild weather plant that does best in full sun.  It would be considered a tender annual.  You can sow the seeds in the early to late spring and start harvesting leaves as soon as there are enough.  Once the days heat up, the cilantro will flower and go to seed and then you can collect the seeds and use them in cooking and baking.  The plant in flower can reach 3’ high.  Just like the dill, you need to successively seed to get continuous crops of leaves.  Use the leaves in Mexican, Caribbean and Oriental dishes.  Use ground seeds in baked goods, soups, casseroles or potpourri.  I would plant this mid border or to the front of the border.

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus) is a tender perennial in the northern half of the US and can be grown in a container and brought inside for the winter.  It can also be treated as an annual.  Lemongrass prefers to be grown in a hot and sunny location in very well drained, sandy, moist soil.  Be sure to water thoroughly and more frequently during dry, hot spells.  It adds a grass like quality in the herb garden.  It is very easily dried and used in tea blends.  Use the leaves fresh in fish and chicken dishes or into soup.  Lemongrass in the garden can grow to about 3’ tall and about 2’ wide and should be placed in the mid-range of the herb border.

German Chamomile (Matricaria recutita) is a wonderful apple-scented plant with daisy like flowers that grows to about 2’ tall.  It grows easily from seed which should be sown in the early spring and again in summer for a succession of harvests.  Harvest flowers when their petals start to turn downward to use fresh or dried in teas.  The plants fade quickly after flowering.  In my experience if you harvest the flowers, they keep producing more flowers.  If you let the flowers go by meaning not harvesting them, the plant will die.  So you have to be on top of harvesting the flowers especially in the hot weather.  It is a front of the border plant. 

Lemon Mint (Monarda citriodora) is an annual flower that I just love in the garden.  It is a triple bee balm like flower sitting on top of one another.  The variety is called “Lambada”.   I just love it planted with sage.  It is an attractor of hummingbirds and all good insects in the garden.  It is easily started from seed and you can buy the seeds from Vermont Wildflower Farm.  I have never used the flowers or leaves.  The red variety of bee balm flowers is the more delicious one, but the leaves have a lemon scent when crushed.  Lemon mint grows to be at least 2’ or 3’ tall.  This link from Bluestone Perennials is a really good image.  However, it is a monarda, but it isn’t a bee balm as they say because bee balm is (Monarda didyma).  So this is a lesson in botanical names, please learn and use them as often as you can.  This herb should be in the mid border area.

Basil (Ocimum basilicum) is one of my favorite annual herbs.  OK, you are catching on to my herbal drift, they are all my favorites, but this one is very special.  Plant seeds and plants in full sun and after the soil temperatures are at least 60˚F.  If you plant it early than that, it will just stall and not grow.  Basil resents cold temperatures and if we continue to have up and down weather, it may get caught in a freeze warning and then it is done so consider it a tender annual.  Basil also needs more moisture in dry, hot summers.  Pinch off flower heads to prolong harvest and keep plants bushy.  There are lots of different flavors and sizes of basil.  Some of my favorites are lemon basil ‘Mrs. Burns’, cinnamon basil, sweet basil, spicy globe basil, ‘Purple Ruffles’, ‘African Blue’, ‘Siam Queen’ and ‘Green Pepper.’  There is a blog site you should check out called Ramona’s Basil Garden Love Your Basil.  She is a guest blogger for The Herb Companion and while she isn’t always blogging, she has an e-book available and it is full of information and recipes about basil.  The majority of basils should be toward the front so you can deadhead them easily.

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) is considered a tender perennial, but I treat it as an annual in my garden.  I have had it comeback in certain years, but that does not happen often.  I love it even more than Greek oregano.  I love the knotted white flowers in the late summer.  You need to be clipping this herb so it doesn’t go to flower too quickly and using it fresh or drying it to use during the winter.  I love to make an herbal butter and use it on fresh veggies like corn on the cob.  It is a low grower and should be at the front of the border.

Scented Geranium (Pelargonium sp.) is a native of South Africa and is considered a tender perennial in zones north of 9, but this is another herb that I treat as an annual.  It is very easy to take cuttings and bring them in for the winter.  It is nice to have a scented geranium on a windowsill that you can sniff the leaves from time to time.  It seems in mild winters that varieties such as coconut or apple will reseed.  You definitely grow them for their leaves and not their flowers.  They need full sun with the exception of peppermint-scented scented geraniums that need afternoon shade.  Scented geraniums are very good in a container situation.  Lemon, rose, peppermint and apple are some of my favorite scents.  Used in baking a cake as a liner to the cake pan or dried in a potpourri, scented geraniums are a versatile herb.  Because there are many sizes and shapes of scented geraniums, I would use them in the front or mid-range of the herb border.

Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) is a true biennial which means it goes to flower and seed almost immediately in the second season.  You can delay that from happening by clipping off the flowers, but really what I like to do is have additional first year plants that give you leaves and the second year plants are larval food for the caterpillars of the swallow tail butterflies.  Parsley can be grown from seed, but soak the seed in hot water or freeze it overnight to jump start it because it is a slow germinator.  Plant it where you want it to grow because of the taproot makes it difficult to transplant.  Flat-leaf or Italian parsley is favored but curly parsley is ornamental and is just as flavorful.  I have said it in the past, if you can only grow one herb, it should be parsley.  You harvest the outer leaves and leave the inner plant or crown intact to keep it producing.  At the end of the season, just harvest everything and put it in the freezer for winter use.  Even though it is a short lived plant, the curly parsley makes a lovely looking hedge.  This is definitely a front of the border type herb.

Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis) is the annual partner of winter savory which is the perennial version.  Known as the bean herb, I really love it best in a Saturday summer omelet with other summer herbs.  If you let it flower and seed, it will self sow.  In a hot summer, it will flower and go to seed quickly.  So it must be watched and harvest leaves before it flowers as you do with all herbs.  It has tiny pink or purple flowers.  It also makes a lovely hedge in the front of the border, but you could use it as an accent herb mid border as well. 

Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) is grown in full sun to partial shade.  It is an herbal sugar substitute.  It contains steviol glycosides compounds that are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar.  Seeding stevia can be difficult because of poor germination rates.  Stevia has the most impact planted in groups.  You should start with new plants.  The leaves are not aromatic but are sweet to the taste.  Harvest the leaves before flowering to ensure the highest concentration of glycosides.  I have harvested the leaves after flowering and dried with great results.  So don’t be too concerned if you find that it has already flowered.  Stevia does not breakdown when heated, so it can be used in cooking or baking without a problem.  Stevia gets around 3’-4’ in flower so mid-range in the herb border would be appropriate.  Here is a post about a mystery herb in my garden called stevia.

Mexican Tarragon (Tagetes lucida) is an annual for those of us in the northern tier of the US and a half-hardy perennial for those of you in the southern part of the country.  This is a substitution for French tarragon in the south.  I have grown this occasionally and it dries very well unlike French tarragon that does not dry as well.  It also has very nice yellow marigold like flowers.  I think if I'm able to find Mexican tarragon, I will buy several plants and use it dried this coming winter.  I have used it as an anise flavor in some of my tea blends.  It is about one foot to two feet tall in bloom.  The flowers do attract pollinators.  Here is a link to a photo of Mexican Tarragon from Bonnie Plants.

‘Lemon Gem’ Marigold (Tagetes tenuifolia) is the marigold that has a dwarf habit and would be the only marigold that I would eat.  They bloom better in full sun.  I had a marigold hedge (Like those herbal hedges!) one season in the vegetable garden.  They bring in a lot of beneficial insects to the garden.  I love this flower because it blooms until frost.  I use the whole flowers to decorate a pasta salad with cherry tomatoes.  I would only eat the petals though.  Because of people’s allergies, the center of the flower which has the pollen could be a problem.  I would use this as an edging plant or an accent in the front of the herb border.  Here is a post I did in 2008 about the powerhouse annual, 'Lemon Gem' marigolds.

Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) is a very easy annual herbal flower that is native to Peru and grows very well from seeds.  The seeds are fun for the kids to plant and have them take care of in the garden.  Both flowers and leaves are edible and peppery in flavor.  I love to fill the flowers with guacamole for an appetizer or for lunch.  They are both vining and clump forms.  They seem to like a bit of shade in very hot and dry summers.  They really take off here in the fall and bloom until frost.  The ‘Alaska’ cultivar has variegated leaves and the ‘Whirlybird’ cultivar has no spur on the flower so it is a bit milder in flavor.  This link is for a guest post that I did on nasturtiums for The Herb Companion magazine called:  Edible Delights:  3 Nasturtium Recipes.

These are some of my most favorite annuals.  Most of them are in my gardens every season.  Some are not in it enough.  Please let me know if I left an herb out!  I will make this post a page under my banner photo so you will always have access to it.  I have one more list in the works and you may have guess it, tender perennials.   Hope you have had a great day.  Talk to you later.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Just Wanted You to Know!

My latest post is up for The Herb Companion and it will take you back to when I spent the first bit of money to buy for my herb garden 22 years ago!  It is called Herb Catalogs:  Ready, Set and Plant Those Herbs, Part 1.  You can always click on links for my latest post on the right hand side of this blog.  So you may have guessed already that there is a Part 2 coming and it may be later today!  I was busy with those posts!

Well, fortunately for us, the forecasters were just enough off their games that we haven't had any snow!  It has been rain, but it is damp and very cold for this time of year after 70's and 80's.  Thank you to whatever heavenly being you pray to for saving our blooming plants so far!  I don't think we are out of the woods yet, but we are getting close.   The Herbal Husband went out last night and put an extra protection over the lemon verbena I showed you the other day.  Maybe too much, but I remember one year I had a pineapple sage come back and we tried to protect it with leaf mulch and ended up chopping it in half.:>(  It was horrifying!  So I did not want anything to happen to my little lemon verbena! 

OK probably overkill, but just making sure! I'm putting the final touches on the annual herb list so I think it may be posted tomorrow or Wednesday at the latest.  Hope you are warm and toasty wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.  BTW, if you think that Lemon Verbena Lady's Herb Garden is a great gardening blog, please click the link above and vote for me as one of the top gardening blogs on!  They are picking three top gardening blogs!  No cash just the glory of saying I'm one of the top gardening blogs!  One vote per visitor and voting ends at 5:00 PM EST on April 30, 2012.  Thanks!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

What You Might Have Missed!

Viburnum x pragense

Pulmonaria saccharata 'Mrs. Moon'

Hostas Just Waking Up
Really the warm and hot temperatures have just accelerated every plant to have an explosion of blooms or leaves. Here in the front garden it is just amazing.  The roses are all huge this year!  They must know they are the 2012 Herb of the Year!  I'll take some photos and show you soon.  A gloomy day in the 'Burgh.  Was making the rounds of my favorite blogs.  Some of you haven't been blogging!  Whew!  Thought I was going to swamped.  It was fun to leave comments with favorites I don't think I have ever left a comment on their blogs.  Terrible sentence construction!  Where are the grammar police?  Did Blogger take them away as well?  Enough!  Hope you are having a great day.  Working on an annual herb list to go with the perennials.  Then I found that my favorite blogs had been neglected!  Excuses, excuses!  Getting cooler as well.  Talk to you later.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wait Until You See This, Herbally Speaking

 I was going to complain about the "New" Blogger, but what's the use!  They are just going to keep changing so I'll just go with it.  No, the photo you see isn't on its side.  The plant (a sweet lavender) is growing towards the light in the garage so it is on its side and from experience, it will stay pretty much like this even when it goes back outside.  I thought it might straighten up.  After so many days in the 70's and 80's including yesterday and today, you would think we are on our way to summer, but we will be back in the 50's and 30's at night by tomorrow.  March wasn't March and April is sort of like April but not quite.  Got to go water the seedlings and plants.  It may reach 80 degrees later today.  Hope you had a great day wherever you may be.  Talk to you later.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Conquering of the Garlic Chives!

This is an annual problem in the herb garden.  The garlic chives have such a beautiful enticing flower in the month of August that the beneficial insects just love and so do I.  The downside is that you have hundreds of them in places where they shouldn't be growing.
The Herbal Husband started transplanting them to other areas of the garden.:(  Then he gave up and said too many.:)  So we will be talking about this herbal problem again next year.  I have them in so many places that getting to the seedheads before they drop their seed is going to be virtually impossible!
Here is that area cleaned up for now.  I have other areas to work on in the herb garden and I'll show those to you later.  I'm also coming up with another design or just plant combinations for my herb garden this year.  The weather is beautiful outside.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Happy in the Garage, Herbally Speaking!

My peppermint scented geranium is huge and happily blooming in the garage!   The Herbal Husband is anxious to get his car back in the garage.  So he is asking every day whether he can put the plants outside!  NO!  We are so up and down temperature wise and he really knows better, but we go through the same rituals every year.  Hope you are having a great day.  I'm going out to mow the grass.  Working on the great garlic chive removal.  Will talk about that in more detail maybe tomorrow.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Huge Herbal Surprise!

I am outside working in the herb garden and what should I see popping up out the ground!  My LEMON VERBENA is coming back!  Whoo Hoo!  Very, very exciting.  I left two outside and the other one is just growing weeds at the moment!  Now I have to be like a protective mama and remember to cover it when we have our next frost warning!  And you know that will come along!  It has been a weird year.  Hope you are finding herbal surprises in your garden as well.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

I'm Stumped (Non-herbal Question)!

The Herbal Husband found these branches lying around the base of our Norway maple in the back.  It's hard to see but they look like some kind of fungi.  Tried "Googling" them and couldn't come up with anything.  The fungi (not necessarily these in the photo) appear often around the base of the trunk of a tree that's dying.  These are on the branches that are dead.  Maybe the fungi just like the decaying bark to form.  If you have had a similar experience, please let me know.  It is a beautiful warm day outside and here I am inside working on my posts for The Herb Companion!  I'll get outside eventually.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Was Outside Looking Around!

Lady's Mantle in its Second Season!

Golden Oregano and 'Walker's Low' Catmint in Bloom!

This is Why An Outdoor Cat is Necessary!  Darn Chipmunk!  Making Holes Under Plants!

Strawberries in Bloom Already!

Mystery Plant!  Probably a Weed, but I've Been Wrong Before!
We were out briefly in the yard surveying what's coming up and what's left to do!  Lots and lots more!  So instead of working outside, we are going to the movies and out to our favorite restaurant later.  Supposed to storm!  Always fun dashing through the raindrops.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Even These Are A Bit Early!

Chives are usually the barometer in the herb garden.  They did die back, but not like they usually do.  Here they are already starting to bud.  They are a couple of weeks early.  So I will get ready for the nine flower chive omelet!  The Herbal Husband always makes it for me every year.  He forgets that it takes only one flower to flavor an omelet.   It is freezing here today.  The wind is really wild making it that much colder.  Getting ready for my afternoon cup of tea and treat!  Oh, the routines we have.  Hope you are having a great day.  Been working on my next posts for The Herb Companion.  They may be up either today or tomorrow.  Talk to you later.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Calendar Garden!

Almost forgot to brag a bit!  My herb garden is the bottom photo of April in the Herb Society of America calendar!  This photo is from the year we participated in the local library garden tour!  A little chilly outside but bright.  Hope you are having a great day.  Talk to you later.

Monday, April 9, 2012

It Seems to be the Same Every Year, Herbally Speaking!

The lawn has grown up through the thyme!
A lot of the grass can be pulled out underneath!
It seems every year I'm pulling the lawn out of my lemon thyme!  This year the grass has gone crazy.  I think because we really didn't have much winter, the grass has just multiplied.  I need to pull out the tweezers to get the rest.  We are going to have a couple of cooler days with wet snow!  The weather has just been up and down like it should have been in March.  I've been working behind the scenes on a couple of lists, one of annual herbs for your garden and the other of tender perennials.  I hope you have noticed that I have moved the Perennial Herb List I did to a permanent page under my banner page.  I will make additional pages for each of the lists I'm working on now.  I have also been working on a post for Herb Companion.  Hope you had a great day.  Talk to you later.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Lamb's Ears and Sweet Woodruff for Easter!

Yes, Even Lemon Balm is in with the Lamb's Ears!
Sweet Woodruff Blooming in April!
 Happy Easter to you all!  Thanks for allowing me a slight break in the action.  You really didn't miss much.  We have been trying to get our seeds planted that should have been planted last month in the very mild weather.  So here are some lamb's ears for the kids and flowers of the sweet woodruff to make May wine for the adults.  Hope you are having a great day.  I'll talk to you later.