Planning the Garden – Starting with the Herbs

It is this time of year again – dreaming, planning, sorting and buying the items that will become the fabric of a new season.  It usually takes a bit of effort to orchestrate a well-functioning garden full of things that will actually get eaten.  In the past, the lure of the strange and unusual have drawn me in, but become a hurdle in the kitchen.  I need to be strict with myself and grow what I know we will eat and enjoy. It also helps to do a bit of research first to know the best way to eat things, and add this to the plant label to make it easy later on.   Although I do have a bed for some fun things so it isn’t all a practical exercise.

2017 garden plan
Aside from the crop rotation, this doesn’t look a lot different from the 2016 version. The exciting changes are all in the details.

Figuring out where to put each plant can be a bit like a game of Tetris.  It is really important to know how something grows so you know how much space to plan for it and if it is short or tall determines where in the garden it should be – in the front or the back.  The challenge is to fit in everything you want to grow without overcrowding.  Added to this is the challenge of crop rotation to avoid nutrient depletion in the soil and disease build up. I’m not even going to look at companion planting for fear my head would actually fall off!   Every year I sit there with my garden map and my seed packets and confuse myself wholeheartedly before emerging with a plan that makes sense.  The key from this point is to stick to the plan and that is the hard bit.

Herb Garden
The herb garden as it stands today. I really think the lemon grass needs a home of its own, it is a bit of a gentle giant.

Working logically across the garden I begin the planning with Sector One.

Bed One – The Herb Garden

This doesn’t really have a lot of structure, and historically I’ve just plonked things in – but the trouble is some things are there for a long time, making change difficult.  So, with the perennials there are some that are staying put:

Pizza Thyme, Garlic Chives, Chives, Oregano, Rosemary, Summer Savory and Sorrel

I’m going to whip out the Lemongrass and will buy a nice pot to put it in.  It’ll look fab.  I’ve decided to remove the Lemon Balm and replace it with Lemon Verbena and pop it near the back as it can get tall-ish.  The Lemon Balm is a spreader and therefore high maintenance, so if I can save myself a few moments here and there then I’ll take it.

Unfortunately one brave branch reaching out to the light doesn’t make this Sage plant redeemable. I need a new healthy robust plant for the new season.

I need to buy new Sage and French Tarragon as they have both died – well I assume the Tarragon has died because there is no trace of it. Couldn’t possibly have been aliens! And of course, the new Verbena plant as these are better this way.

The rosemary is doing well in these soggy conditions. I’m looking forward to a summer of kebabs with these wonderful fragrant sticks.

I also need get new Parsley before the current one bolts.  I currently have curly leaf so I’m thinking of a new one of these and a flat leaf variety.  The flat one is supposed to have more flavour but the curly one is prettier on the plate, so I shall have both.  You can grow these from seed but there is an old wives’ tale about it needing to visit the Devil nine times before it sprouts – which is supposed to be an explanation about why it takes so long to germinate.  I’d much rather have more angelic goings on in my garden so I’ll just get some seedlings that have seen the light.  But then I’m running the risk getting pregnant if I plant seedlings…  hmmm these old wives’ tales are a bit of a minefield!

The Parsley is rich, lush, wonderful and delish!  A must have in any good herb garden.

The annuals that will grace my herb bed will be the old favourites:

Basil, Dill, Coriander and Stevia.

Although I can’t tell the kids where the Stevia is as they stand in the garden and strip all the leaves off the plant.  I don’t think they’ll suspect it in the herb garden as for the last few years it has been everywhere but there.  I will need to check the seeds I have, make sure they are still fresh and viable or I may need to buy some more.  With the removal of the lemongrass there was a space in the bed so I’m going to try Cumin seeds as we use a lot of this in our cooking.

And so far, so good – the planning seems to be going ok.   Only the rest of sector one and the other 4 sectors to go…  I think I may need a wee lie down, my head is beginning to spin.

New gumboots in soggy puddles
The only upside of all this excess rain is I learnt very quickly my gumboots had sprung a leak and now I have lovely new ones.

Since we got back from our tropical holiday the rain that apparently plagued the garden while we were away has continued to fall, so I’m more than happy to turn an indoor wet weather day into a day of productive action.   Join me throughout the rest of the week as I continue to sort out what has the potential to be my best garden ever.

Come again soon – it can’t possible rain forever can it?  I’m hoping for a dry summer.

Sarah the Gardener  : o)


11 thoughts on “Planning the Garden – Starting with the Herbs

  1. Your garden plan looks great. When your parsley bolts in it’s second year you could let it go to seed, the hoverflies will love the flowers and the seed falling into your garden bed will produce many new parsley plants with no effort required by you and no need to buy new seedlings.

    1. Thanks. I may leave it there, but I will probably still buy some more to avoid the gap between the bolted parsley and the new parsley becoming big enough to eat. Sometimes it can take a while for these closed systems to work harmoniously! : o)

    2. I do exactly this with my parsley. Let it go to seed at the end of the season, and springtime up come the new parsley plants, normally far more than I need and mostly in places I don’t want either, but that means I can choose the strong healthy ones to keep! Parsley has been one of my lowest maintenance herbs, along with rosemary and sage. I just need to remember to use them more often. I used to have mint as well, but got sick of it popping up all over the place, and hauled it out. I still get suckers popping up here and there though!

  2. Lovely update some of my herbs are in the container bed by the back door have hedge near by so wondering if it a good place to be but we will see your plan looks great blessing on a lovely week

    1. Wow, that sounds exciting…. and yet some of the ones I have carefully stored in my seed tin for the last couple of years refuse to budge! I think I need to build my own pyramid for the purpose of seed storage. : o)

      1. I found my seeds did last at least a couple of years. I did keep them in storage in a dark area and some out native American plants I keep seeds in the refrigerator. Sound were store moist as some of these plants need cold periods to germinate. I didn’t has the same luck with vegetables as I did with flowers. That was a long time ago.

        1. Normally my seeds a nice and safe in a dry, cool tin, but the germination viabilty does drop off quite rapidly for some varieties and it is much better to buy fresh ones of these every other season than mess about wondering if they will pop up. It is the same as the volunteer plants that pop up in the garden – they are so much more robust that those that we care for from seed! I imagine these pyramid seeds will grow some pretty cool plants! : o)

          1. Another to buyers seed we were warn I master gardener class never it eat tomatoes from volunteers as they may hybridize with deadly nightshade which is native to the area I wished I remember more about the seeds from the pyramids. with deadly nightshade.

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