Thursday, April 16, 2009

I Grow My Own...

In the spirit of the buzz phrase of 2009, "These Tough Economic Times", I have decided that I am going to give our herb garden a little extra push and see what kind of results we can get this year.

We have been working for a couple of years on growing some fresh herbs. We both like to cook. We use fresh herbs to cook, and we have fun growing them. Not to mention, that when it is time to dry them, I do it on cookie sheets that I set in my truck, and the truck smells absolutely delicious.

So, I got one of those little trays with all the peat pellets ($5 Walmart) and some seeds, and I am going to attempt to germinate some plants, and transplant them outside.
If it works, we will have way more herbs than we need, or can use, and we will be sharing them. These things are incredibly easy to use, and easy to figure out. The directions are written in 3 different languages, in case you want to practice your linguistic skills while you wait for the plants to grow.The first thing you do is open the package and add water.

There are a whole bunch of little pellets, that look like miniature hockey pucks that are actually peat moss, and potting soil, wrapped in a biodegradable netting and compressed into a wafer. They expand when they get wet, kind of like those little foam lobsters that you get at the dollar store.

Once they are done growing, like tiny little alien creatures, right before your very eyes, you are ready to plant your seeds.

I use a pencil to make a hole, not because the package says to use a pencil, but because that's what my mom used when she used peat pellets, way back when I was a kid. Just push it down through the netting and into the peat about an inch, or whatever depth it says on your particular seed packet, when you pull it out you have a nice hole to drop your seeds into.

Because I have big fingers, and seeds are so tiny, I like to pour them out of the package and into some kind of dish. That way I can control them a little bit better.

I dropped three seeds into each hole.
My grandpa used to put 4 kernels of corn in each hole.
He said:
One for the magpie,
One for the crow,
One for the cutworm,
One to grow.
I'm hoping no magpies, crows, or cutworms find their way into our house, but I remember from a project in Boy Scouts years ago, that seeds only have about a 50-75% germination rate, and that was under ideal conditions. If every seed actually grows, I will have lots of little seedlings, and can then choose the strongest and healthiest ones to move to the garden.

After you drop the seeds in the hole, you just push the peat back down to close up the hole, and Voila! It's that easy. The cover goes back on, making a little greenhouse, and you wait 3-7 days for the seeds to germinate.

Waiting was always my least favorite part.

So, I have 72 little pellets. Mini planters, if you will, each with 3 tiny seeds inside.

I planted one row, or six pellets, of cherry tomatoes. One row each of Sweet Basil, Bush Basil, and Genovese Basil, and two rows of Purple Basil. Not because Purple Basil is any better, but because I am hoping it will add some color and variety to our garden.

That left me with six rows to plant. I planted two rows each of Spearmint, Rosemary and Thyme. All three of these are supposed to be perennials, (Meaning they come back every year.) We haven't had a lot of success with Rosemary making it through the winter here, so I hope to get a plant or two that I can keep inside through the winter as well.

We have been trying to build a solid base of perennials and then work the annuals in around them.
We already have a healthy Sage plant, a good solid Oregano plant, two healthy Savory bushes, (Probably need to give one of those away this year). A good patch of Chives, and several good clumps of Garlic.

I got a Sweet Marjoram plant at the end of the season last year, and planted it. It didn't grow very much last year, but I'm hoping it does better this year.

We also have more Dill than we need. We planted it one year and it grows wild in our herb garden every year now. It's not supposed to be a perennial, but it seeds off. It's easy to see why it is called Dill Weed, because It can get out of control if you let it, but we try to keep it cut when it starts to get too high, and don't let it go crazy until toward the end of the season.

The seeds I planted today will all be welcome additions to our garden, if they all grow.

Check back here for regular garden updates.

I am also interested in any tips, suggestions, ideas, for using fresh herbs, drying herb. or any other recipes or ideas that my fellow herbalists may have.
Leave me a comment and let me know what herbs you grow, and how you use them.


Post a Comment