Know what you want to grow.

I was out in garden today, weeding my herb garden – in the rain.  Well it wasn’t really raining, just a light drizzle that doesn’t feel like much, but it isn’t until you come inside that you realise just how wet you actually are.   It has been like it off and on all day, but it isn’t a good deep satisfying rain that will soak deep into the ground, it is more like a waft of moisture barely kissing the soil.  But even that is better than nothing as I was rummaging around on my hands and knees pulling weeds here and there I really began to appreciate just how dry the soil was.

The great thing about this warm spell is my basil has bounced back. If I hadn’t been so busy I’d have whipped it out ages ago.

The poor herb garden was completely over grown and mostly gone to seed.  It is quite a large garden to house just my herbs and each year I pop in some fresh seedlings of basil, parsley, dill and coriander and they do just fine.  Although this year not so much as they ended up being overshadowed by spontaneous purchases from the herb section of the garden centre.  I blame it on the garden centre – if they didn’t have their 3 for $10 herb special offer, then I would have walked away with what I actually needed and not a collection of things to make up the numbers.

Pizza Thyme
This Pizza Thyme was such a sweet wee seedling and looked like it wouldn’t break any rules in my garden. I’m not so sentimental about it now and gave it a really hard chop. I mean seriously how much thyme do I actually need?

Once I get home with my new purchases I plant them exactly where you would expect me to – in the herb garden.  Where else would I put them?  How big could they possibly get?  A lot of the wonderful images scattered across the great big internet have herb gardens in spirals, plant pots, pellets, window boxes and various hanging arrangements, so the expectation is that most herbs stay quite petite.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the case at all.  Most herbs, in my experience rage out of control throughout the growing season.  Even my gentle sweet basil, parsley, coriander and dill put on quite a height before bursting into seed and giving up for the year.

I only remember sowing seeds for nasturtium once. But It is all over our place. It is currently taking on the mint in the race around the house. Luckily it is pretty and edible or it would be on a hit list.

Others are a bit sneakier.  The oregano, thyme and lemon balm stretch out and wherever their branches connect with the soil they secretly put down a few roots, establishing themselves well beyond where I would like them to be.  I guess that is why they call these kinds of plants creepers. I was already onto the mint – it isn’t in the herb garden, but in what I thought was a well contained spot at the back door.  Currently it is attempting so set a record circumnavigating the house!

Lemongrass overshadowing the horseradish
This photo really doesn’t do the situation justice. The lemongrass is quite imposing and overshadowing the horseradish whose long suffering leaves are actually quite long.

Then there are the others that seem innocuous enough – I mean how can a root crop spread?  Well horseradish spreads – a lot!  I popped a small punnet smack bang in the middle of the bed and then the very next day found out from two different sources that it spreads.  I thought “It’ll be fine…”  Then watched it grow large flamboyant leaves and well and truly establish itself in the centre of the garden.  I have still yet to have horseradish sauce on a wonderful Sunday roast beef as the price of a roast beef has escalated quite dramatically and I can’t justify the cost.  I’m in two minds about pulling it out as the beef could be on special one day.  Does horseradish actually have any other uses aside from adding a bit of zing to a well-cooked hunk of beef?

Toast the Cat
Toast the Cat sleeping in the greenhouse. I couldn’t have staged this photo better if I’d tried. Having said that – Have you ever tried to make a cat do something?

Although I do have to say – this year the horseradish was overshadowed and it didn’t like it.  It’s leaves lost all their lustre.   The surprizing usurper as king of the herb garden was the lemon grass.  I’ve grown it before and it was quite mild mannered and petite enough to live happily in a spiral.  This year must have been ideal conditions for it as it is huge and graceful leaves that make a delightful rustling sound in the wind.  We really need to eat a lot more Thai style food to get through it all.  Such a delicious problem to have.

So much for my orderly well trained herb garden.  If I had my time over again I would plan things a little better.  I would take the time to find out just how big each plant does actually grow in an ideal season, instead of popping them in and hoping for the best.  I’d only plant what I actually wanted, and what we are actually likely to eat on a regular basis. And I’d have more self-control at the garden centre…  Oh who am I kidding.   Garden centres are dangerous places.

Come again soon – I’ve put even more thought into my garlic – I refuse to fail again.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)

12 thoughts on “Know what you want to grow.

  1. I had to laugh when I saw the photo of your cat sleeping on your potting tray. I have exactly the same tray myself – these trays are great – but in my case I have a chook who liked to jump up on it, she must have been checking it out for a nest. I had to be careful removing her (large brown shaver) because sometimes I would have delicate plants on the tray. She has been banned from the area now. Jan.

  2. My scourge is lemon balm. I love to drink it as tea in the evening. When I lived in the city, I planted it as a decorative plant in the front rock garden. I didn’t know its evil tendencies. Soon, it overtook the rock garden (and began to pop up in the gardens of my neighbors!) They all figured out who was responsible…. I was on the bad list for several years, that is, until I traded out my front lawn for wheat.

    1. Yeah – Lemon Balm – for all it’s sweet gentle scent, is actually a bit of a thug. Mine gets a jolly good chop a few times a year or it would take over. Although I don’t mind mowing over wayward bits as it smells so refreshing!
      I love growing wheat all the best with yours this season. : o)

  3. I see this sort of behaviour alot with the rookie gardeners who come in for consultations with me… they get “romanced” by the plants at the garden center or Bunnings and forget all about their planning and the plants they are actually going to eat haha! I spoke about this kind of planning-vs-impulse growing method at the start of the year

  4. This sounds just like my herb garden! I have had to ruthlessly chop back my thyme, sage and oregano, and my rosemary has turned into a tree… I can’t even chop branches off at the bottom any more, they will need a saw to prune! I’m half inclined to pull the whole thing out, I had no idea that rosemary would grow so huge. The two herbs I have never had any luck with is basil and coriander. For some reason both curl up their toes and die, no matter where they are planted.

    1. Hi Miss Kitty. There is nothing like learning things the hard way! My sage got all woody last year so I pulled it out and started again. Coriander can be tricky to grow because it doesn’t really like the heat and will bolt quickly. It seems like I’m always resowing it but with no real rewards before its gone too far. Basil really hates being over watered – it can invite all sorts of fungal diseases so make sure you sow it in free draining soil and it doesn’t like the cold all that much either so don’t start them off until it is warm enough. All the best with your garden.
      Cheers Sarah : o)

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