Got To Be Starting Something

by Daisy on 03/01/2014

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When I was growing up in the country we had pit bull dogs. They were good dogs and they loved to play tug o’ war. I would get a stout piece of rope with a knot on each end and the pup would take one knot and I’d take the other and he would nearly pull my arms off trying to get that rope from me.* The single-minded tenacity of that dog, bracing himself with all four feet, walking backwards, tail wagging steadily, yanking his broad head from one side to the other; it was impressive. I would lean back and hang on.

This winter has been a pit bull. It grabbed on early and won’t let go.

I am leaning back and hanging on, but I don’t know how much longer I can take it. We live in a humid subtropical climate zone and we aren’t used to such weather. We’re terrible wimps when it comes to cold, but in our defense, although we don’t have snow chains, etc., our air conditioners can blow the roofs off.

I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve had longer to ponder my spring garden over the long winter, but I’m going to mix it up this year; instead of trying out lots of new vegetables like I usually do, I’m going to plant the basic, tried-and-true veg and plant the rest of the garden in herbs.

I have 27 types of new (to my garden) herbs loaded and ready to go. They are a combination of culinary, medicinal, and tea herbs. Many, if not most, fall into multiple of the above categories. It’s giving me a new excitement and anticipation of this year’s garden.

I’m sure some of them will flop, but I won’t know which ones until I try. Elecampane and winter savory may find it a little too hot here. Rue is probably going to be a mistake, ditto stinging nettle. If they are mistakes, I can’t say I wasn’t warned.

I had great results with tulsi last year, so this year I’m planting three kinds of it. Za’atar oregano looks promising, although I’d love to get my hands on some of the thymbra spicata variety of za’atar. If anyone knows of a source, please let me know. I heart Lebanese food.

In addition to the self-seeding anise basil that usually plants itself, I’m planting four new kinds of basil : Red Rubin, Aromato, Red Ruffles, and Lemon basil.

I’ve started a few of these indoors, but saving a few seeds from each packet in case of a seedling disaster.

Feverfew, traditional for headaches:IMG_4642

Elecampane, for respiratory problems and intestinal worms, its root tastes like peppermint, apparently:


And one of my all-time favorites, lemon balm. I didn’t grow nearly enough last year:


Lemon balm is unbeatable in teas, especially mixed with tulsi and lemongrass. Medicinally it’s used for dementia, cold sores, colic,  sleeplessness, and anxiety, among other issues. Smells so good.

I’ve also started lemon mint, which is not exactly a mint, but a monarda; the za’atar oregano I mentioned, german thyme, rosemary (1st time from seed), anise hyssop, winter savory, and sweet marjoram.

To say I can’t wait for spring is an understatement of the first order.

I’m planning to soak some peas (snow and ornamental) ASAP and get those planted. Hope it’s not too late, because when the heat finally hits, it doesn’t miss.


*Apparently they now say you’re not supposed to play tug o’ war with dogs.  Please forgive my youthful indiscretion. It was fun.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Deborah March 1, 2014 at 3:27 pm

I think it’s been a hard winter for a lot of people. Here in Texas, we are also not used to the cold. I just love basil. I put it in sandwiches instead of lettuce and it’s so refreshing. Maybe I should plant some lemon balm. It does smell wonderful, and I could use some help with dementia. Just kidding! HA!

Adica March 1, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I also love lemon balm! (My bunny loves it, too; when I harvest my herbs, he always gets all the leaf “rejects” and stems.) I love that I can basically mow it down, and it’ll grow back healthier than ever. I’ve found that if I stop harvesting it past early September or so (aside from a few sprigs here and there), it’ll grow back on its own the next spring. (I live in MI, though, so you could probably stop later.)

I love all the lemon herbs, really. I also grow lemon verbena and lemon basil. Once, I chopped up a bunch of fresh lemon balm and lemon basil and a small amount of lemon verbena and mixed it in with some cream cheese to take with bagels to a brunch the next day. I also made another with your basic sweet basil, thyme, oregano, etc. garden herb mix. They were amazing! People who didn’t know me asked me what brand it was because they wanted to buy some, haha.

Sharon March 5, 2014 at 5:27 am

I live in the shadows of the highest peaks of the Catskill Mountains in NY, and I have had Lemon Balm and Fever Few come back year after year here. Basil of any flavor needs to be guarded closely here….even a little bit of frost will do it in. I have only tried growing the Greek Oregano, and finally ended up shovel pruning it because it wanted to take over the entire bed! Love lemon Thyme too, and have had it live for several years at a time before having to get a new plant. I stuff it in the belly of a fresh trout before putting it on the grill, or into the smoker. 🙂

Holly March 5, 2014 at 8:06 am

As far as the “too hot” goes for some of the herbs, creating microclimates can be incredibly effective. Using north sides of houses, creating partial-shade areas. Even keeping the ground wetter can make a difference. Like stinging nettle can handle a lot of shade, and likes it moist. Anyway, good luck!

Cinnamon Vogue March 5, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Celebrating 10 years without snow. Glad I left the East Coast. It’s just too much. A subtropical climate is the best place to live I think.

But lovely to see those plants of your grow. Wow didn’t know there were 4 kinds of Basil. I leant something new today.

louise Boulton March 11, 2014 at 2:21 am

I was always told that playing tug o’ war with dogs was good for them as it strengthened their hips! So I wouldn’t worry too much.
Loving the thought of all those delicious herbs. In England we have not had a decent winter – lots of rain, in some places too much. But not any frost which kills off all the bugs. So hoping we won’t have a late frost which will kill off all the seedlings. I can’t wait to start growing, now I have seen all your lovely plants. Thanks for sharing.

Kay June 16, 2016 at 9:48 am

I’m wondering what you do/did with your winter savory. I have two pots, one with winter and the other with summer, and I’m now not sure what I’m going to use it for. It’s quite a bold flavor! I’m thinking I’ll dry it, of course, but always looking for other ideas.

Daisy June 16, 2016 at 12:22 pm

Kay–I love my savory! It’s a key ingredient in a lot of bean dishes (and being a carminative, it’s helpful to prevent gas). I put it in salad dressings, sauces, and soups as well.

Kay June 16, 2016 at 12:41 pm

Thanks! It seems so potent fresh. But I’ll give it a try in my next roast chicken and my next bean recipe. Is there much difference between the uses for summer and winter savories? (I can’t believe how well it’s grown!)

Daisy June 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm

Kay–Winter savory is a bit more strongly flavored to me. I actually prefer winter savory as I love intense herbal flavors. Perhaps choose winter savory when you are going to be slow-simmering as it will hold up well.

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