Thursday, October 15, 2009

Finally! My Seven Things: You Grow Girl Meme

To me, and many of you out there, there is nothing like growing edibles.  Specifically, if I lived in a smaller location than I do and had such limited space that I would have to choose only a few things to grow with me and take along with my travels, it would probably be my herbs/spice plants.

Herbs/spices are space and resource efficient plants that make a great difference when used even sparingly.  Many too that I love and choose taste, smell, and look great structurally and texturally and my even favorite aspect of them tends to be their ease of propagation, with usually a simple cutting in water to get the process started.  Therefore not only can you increase your herbalicious numbers easily, but you can also have SUPER easy gifts on hand.  Why do you think I got into plants in the first place?  Cheap gifts? I'm there! (j/k, I do spend money on those who I love ;)

I am afraid that the items I am posting may be somewhat banal to those in the edible gardening world, but there is a reason why people love these specific plants!  Hopefully my banter will make up for the predictability of the seven.

(1)  BASIL(s)
It would be a crying shame (and I would probably be beaten by many) if I left out basil.  Or to be specific, the entire basil family.  The sheer variety of basils from sweet, Italian, spicy, lemon, clove, cinnamon, lime and MORE makes it an extremely versatile herb loved in all cultures.  To not love basil would be inhuman.  Basil means pesto, Thai/Vietnamese springrolls, tom yum soup, teas, and many other deliciousness.  Though the basic shape within the varieties is the same, the leaf colors and sizes are delightfully mixed.  A garden devoted entirely to basil would be a worthy feet.  I would have tiny miniature spicy globe basils in front and an undulation of purple/blue ones with the larger ones in back of course.  If possible I've love to roll around in it too :)  Not only do basils tend to self seed in my garden, but as with many of my favorite herbs, overwintering is a snap:  take cutting, strip off bottom leaves, place in water!

(2)  MINTS(s)
 So many people talk about the horrors of mint let loose in the garden and I can empathize, sort of.  I tear this lady up all the time, but I believe there is so much use (and tea) that mint is capable of that I don't mind its stubbornness.  As with basil, oh the variety! Chocolate mint is the ultimate no calorie non-candy delight, and who can fault a mint julep on a hot summer day?  Now THAT, is how you garden!  Though I do only have 2 mint varieties, with a million and a half kinds out there (see the Richter's online catalog), I shudder with ecstasy and fear at the idea of have many varieties.  There would simply be nothing in your garden after a summer!  Like the basil though, this would probably be as or more roll-around-in-worthy

(3)  Ginger

My life would be so much less fantastic without this herb/spice.  How would I make it through the cold days without a cuppa of boiled ginger and brown sugar "tea"?  My faux-asian cooking would be so obviously faux-ake without it!  I love ginger so much that I may name my first born child Ginger (if it's a girl... potentially Basil for a boy... they are going to hate me aren't they?)  So easy to grow here too, and propagating with the fresh stuff at the Asian-mart!  At one point in the season, the ginger is red speckled and perfect, I just chew on it after I give it a good rinse.  Ginger is my hot other soul.

(4)  Rosemary
Another spicy hers that I could not live without.  I actually use this less than I like as I make so few meat dishes nowadays.  It's a little depressing, but the scent!  it's evergreen nature and cure little blue-purple flowers make it so worthwhile.  As a child, and obsessed with herbalism, I loved the mythology behind rosemary, its symbolism for wisdom and the fact that a boiled to a red color rosemary makes my black hair shiny and spifferific.  I liked to pretend too that wisdom = smart and I would gain a few IQ points with its use, but alas, not the case.

(5)  Pineapple Sage
The cooling weather for some reason brings out the the brilliant scarlet tube-like racemes of pineapple sage, and am I ever grateful for that extra color when everything else is dying!  The leaves are lightly pineapple scented and make for a great tisane.  I think its addition to a something like a pork dish would be great too for real pineapple in a pinch.  Hummingbirds love it, so I do too. The fact that it spreads like the absolute dickens in the garden is a plus/minus (I think it decided it was alpha sage to the culinary one next to it and summarily smothered it).  And... like all my favorites, this baby roots up like nothing else.  It got so big this year (and it was rainy enough to spur this) that its branches were attempted to root its 6 inches above ground!  Talk about wanting to spread!  Usually I dig the entire thing up and bring it in for the winter, but I think I'll just go with a cutting this year.

     These belong in their own category of awesome.  Scented geraniums, are not true geraniums but perlagoniums, and like basils and mints, come in nearly every freaking color and scent!  From my "intense reasearch" (aka, obsessive internet and catalog clicking/page turning), their foliage and scent variety is seems innumerable and my excitement about this plant makes me want ONE OF EVERY KIND, they are totally not outdoor hardy for me here and the prospect of hauling them all in for the winter is daunting.
    Currently I have mint, ginger and rose scented varieties, but I think gaining the coconut, apricot, apple, chocolate, lime, and... gooseberry (?!) are all worthy ones to get and not too much of a hassle to bring in for the winter...?  Oogh, that greenhouse needs to happen.
    The other reason scented geraniums are so near and dear to my heart is because they are one of the smuggled plants I brought with me from my trip to California this year.  Nowhere near me stocks scented geraniums (oddly other than Home Depot was stocking these, though their selection was very limited) and so for me to procure them would be slightly expensive and highly mail-ordery.  Something I try to avoid doing.  Perhaps I just need to make more trips to California (because THAT is cost effective... at least I'll be in the state?)
      Though I have had less luck propagating these, once I get the hang of it, I hear it's a pinch (no pun intended).
 Links on Scented Geranium info/purchase:

(7)  Lemongrass

This was a surprise to me, as I usually am not into grasses, but as it is delightfully edible, I give it exception to that fact it's a grass especially as it is a main ingredient in one of my favorite soups, Tom Yum.  It tends to be so expensive at the normal grocery stores and dried out, and much less expensive at the Asian stores, but nothing is as good as mostly free and freshly grown, and GROW IT DID.   I found a couple of bunches of lemongrass with the bulb still intact and after using all but the last 3-4 bottom inches of the stalk, and popped it in a glass of water.  Soon it grew proper roots and pushing out leaves, and though I thought it was late enough in the summer that it wouldn't grow too tall, it of course did and front in center of my herb garden I have 2 large clumps of lemongrass that I cannot possibly use up!  I think I will use one patch to grind up and freeze and the other will be potted up for fresh use over the winter because as I've said, TOM YUMMY!

Thanks to the:
You Grow Girl™ - » Seven Things (Plus some extra fun things at the end)
for motivating me to complete this!  Hope I can get some free goodies, may lady luck take a shine to me!

Richters is a wholesale plant plug place that I like to fantasize about and hope that my relatives and I will go into and I can fill my yard with their splendid stuff that I can find nowhere!


Lilla's Blog said...

Ha ha ha..."faux-ake"...funny! :o)

Bangchik and Kakdah said...

Interesting 7 herbs for meme..... We have all in the garden right now except for pineapple sage and Rosemary... We will soon search for the two! ~bangchik

azplantlady said...


I think growing herbs and giving them to friends is a great idea. Who knows, you may inspire them to create their own herb gardens.

persephone said...

@Lilla- I try to be funny when I can! ;) Thanks for reading!

@Bangchick- Pineapple sage is wonderful, I think you will enjoy it if you can find it! If I could send you either herbs I would! Rosemary and chicken soup, mmmm (Does it ever get really cold in Malaysia ever?)

@azplantlady-I have a neighbor who loves to just eat basil! Raw, whole leaves like lettuce! Not sure if it motivates her to herb garden, but I've given her potted up cuttings so that they'll grow as she "prunes it" with her teeth :)

Elephant's Eye said...

I wrote about my scented pelargoniums here
You know the species come from South Africa originally? In your header picture - did the frog do it?

persephone said...

@Elephant's Eye- you have such lovely scented geraniums! I want! Maybe I should just live in S. Africa where they will grow merrily because while they're doing "ok" here, I'm apparently not providing thriving conditions. Blah.

Chris and his Chocolate Mint said...

Hello there fellow herb lover. I have a couple too: mints and oregano. I'll probably add a basil and a lavender soon.