Tuesday, April 12, 2011

In Which I Garden Some More

I worked out in the yard for several more hours today and the herb garden is almost finished!

While Connor attended school today I laid out and finished up my brick pathway.  Then after the little guy had his nap, we drove out to the nursery and picked up most of the herbs I'll be planting. 

Connor enjoyed the nursery trip, though we did have to do a little maneuvering so we could look at plants without being downwind from the lavender (which Connor is highly allergic to).  Luckily disaster was averted and I was able to purchase my herbs without my child breaking out in hives.  It probably wouldn't have affected him-- I'm pretty sure he'd have to either inhale the oil or get it on his skin for it to cause a reaction-- but better safe than sorry!

That's creeping thyme planted between the bricks; hopefully over time it will spread out and fill in the cracks to make a really attractive path.  In the plots I'm putting in thyme (the culinary kind), marjoram, nasturtiums, chives, oregano, bee balm, prostrate rosemary, borage, lemon balm, parsley, pineapple sage, dill and scented geraniums.  The bee balm, pineapple sage and lemon balm all tend to get out of control if left to grow unchecked, so I sank dividers underneath the bricks surrounding their plots and hopefully that will help.  Of course the lemon balm spreads by seed too, so I'm still taking a risk.  If in about three years I have twelve plots of lemon balm we'll know that the experiment failed. 

It's not quite past the freezing date yet for this area, but we're supposed to have a really good week of warm weather so hopefully the plants will mostly be over the shock of transplanting if it decides to dip below freezing again after that.  Also I have a really, really big tarp I can drape over the whole thing like a tent if need be.  I'm completely ready for it to stop freezing, though.  I am so over this winter stuff.  I think that Washington state does this sort of thing on purpose-- gives us a run of three or four days of really gorgeous weather so we remember what sun looks like and then dumps rain on us for another three weeks.  Every time it teases us with sun it's saying: "See?  This is what spring looks like in places other than here.  Ha ha!  Maybe you should move."

I think Washington is kind of a misanthrope. 

You will notice that other than the sage (which will grow anywhere) there aren't any herbs in there that love the heat.  They really don't do very well in this area because we only have sun for a third of the year or so.  This is a problem, because I want to be able to cook Thai meals at home and of course all of the herbs they use need very hot weather.  It would be really nice to have those ready and established so I can start harvesting before Ellen gets here!  So I'm planning a couple of raised beds on the sunniest side of the house  with cold box frames to fit on top of them.  Hopefully I'll be able to grow chilies, basil, lemongrass, and maybe even turmeric if I'm lucky!  Galangal and ginger might be more difficult to keep warm since they prefer a shady spot.  Maybe I could use tinted glass for part of my bed, or build another box on the shaded side of the house.  I'll get it figured out.

A strawberry pot full of different kinds of mint should round out my Thai cooking collection nicely.  We get shallots, onions and garlic through our Community Supported Agriculture program, so I don't need to put those in.  We'll just have to get the kaffir lime leaves at the local Asian food store, though.  There's no way limes are going to grow in our yard, and as adorable as those little potted lime trees are I know how they would fare in my house; Loki would strip the plant down to twigs with his teeth in about twenty seconds.  He's like a house plant piranha.

I was hoping to get my pictures of Ellen in the mail today, but they didn't come.  Hopefully they'll show up tomorrow!  I wish I could show you all what she looks like, but I want to respect her privacy and the wishes of the Thai government, so I won't be posting any pictures of her or identifying information (including her real name, as you all know) until after the adoption-- if she gives me permission.  She's old enough to have a say in how much information about her is shared. 

I'm hoping she'll be okay with it though, because I want you all to see her smiling face!



Jennifer Jayhawk said...

I'm having serious garden envy. I hope you will post garden updates. I want to see how it looks in full herbville!

leah said...

Your garden is beautiful. I hope the lemon balm stays put! I'm trying to figure out how to make a raised bed garden that is both deer-proof and attractive. We were hoping that our golden retriever would chase the deer away, but he's afraid of the deer. So now we have a regular herd of 10 deer in our backyard and a dog who sits at the door and whines in fear...

I hope your photo comes soon - I'm sure Ellen is a cutie-pie!

Jennifer Snider said...

I know that most cats don't like citrus smell/taste. I wonder if citrus tree leaves contain any of the citrus repelling properties of the fruit? If so, maybe you can enjoy the plant without your cats feasting on it.

Jess said...

That's a good thought Jennifer, but I have a cat who will, if he decides he can't eat the plant, strip all the leaves off with his teeth and then play with them. See the Christmas Wreath Debacle of 2008 for one example:


The only plants he doesn't seem to recognize as being in need of his unique form of pruning are succulants.

Cathy said...

The creeping thyme will do it's job. It might take a year or so to fill in, but it is nice.
The pineapple sage will get tall. We haven't found that it spreads that much though. My goats love to munch it through the fence. So that spot is now double fenced and has a hot wire as a deterrent!
We have grow the heat loving plants in a large black nursery pot on the front deck of the house. The solar heat bounces off of the deck and the house to keep it much warmer than in our garden. It is the only way we have ever gotten ripe tomatoes that weren't the cherry variety.
Enjoy your new herb garden and your photos when they arrive!

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