21 Apr 2014
I was looking through some posts from last year, and came across photos from the herb garden right after it was laid out.
Wow, what a change in just a year! Herbs in this garden: parsley, cilantro (now bolting for seed), rigani, sage, thyme, chinese garlic chives, oregano, dill, magenta lambsquarters, lemongrass, lemon verbena, Jamaican oregano, culantro, rosemary, walking onions, motherwort, borage, hoja santa, and a few random chile peppers. I love that you can’t even see the paths any more.
Like the forest garden, the deep mulch and bright sun provided the perfect environment for the betony, and it spread through the garden like wildfire over the winter. The betony roots grew so thickly under the mulch through the winter that I can chop down the above-ground growth, but the only way to pull the roots out is to dig the entire bed down a few feet, remove all of the beautiful loam I’ve been building for two years, and start over again. And that’s just not happening. So I’m enjoying the pretty purple flowers and chopping it down when the above-ground growth gets too thick. It looks messy but doesn’t seem to be stunting anything, and the flowers bring the bees like crazy.
This is my last remaining parsley plant. I had three huge parsley bushes, but the others were attacked by some beetle larvae that bored into the base of the stem and killed the plants. The parsley plants are so dense I couldn’t tell anything was wrong until the leaves around the bottom started yellowing, and when I checked, the stem was already hollowed out and rotten- the larvae had already emerged to pupate. Hopefully this one survives to bolt, I’d like some swallowtails.
These are my two surprises this spring- one good and one bad. The bad is the two lemongrass clumps are not doing well. Despite the thick mulch they froze back pretty severely over the winter and seem to be struggling. I’m giving them extra fish emulsion to help them along. The happy surprise is this little culantro plant, waiting for me when I pulled the mulch back last month. Somehow it survived the freezes and is coming back nicely from the roots. This is especially nice because I tried starting some culantro seeds and not a single seed germinated. We eat a lot of culantro in the deep summer when cilantro isn’t available, and I wanted a sizable patch. I’ll be looking for starter plants around town.
I’m still keeping an eye out for a few herbs I’d like to add, but the garden is pretty full right now. I’m looking forward to posting pictures again next spring when the newer perennials like the lemon verbena and hoja santa get established and really start to take off. The goal is for this whole thing to become self-sustaining- the annuals reseed themselves and all I have to do is add compost, mulch, and harvest!