Herbs Gone Wild!

I promised some pictures of my herb garden in a previous post about my vegetable garden. I actually have two herb gardens–one with cooking herbs and another with medicinal herbs. I’m still making improvements on the latter, so I’ll give a complete before and after tour of it in a future post. So, for now, my cooking herbs!

This is what I started out with this spring. This is where I had last year’s straw bale garden. When it was finished in the ball, I broke the bales apart and leveled the ground. (I also had to build up the right side, which was on a somewhat steep slope. Even before I put the straw down, this area had pretty good-looking dirt; it was clearly a flower bed once before.

I planted sweet mint, peppermint, dill, fennel, oregano, parsley, cilantro, thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, and boarge. In most cases, I have two of everything.

It’s fenced in because the dog likes to dig (and kill plants). The wooden pole that you see against the fence post to the left is the “gate.”

Here’s the garden after a couple of months. Mind you, I’ve given it a trim once already!

This is growing outside the fence. I’m pretty up on my native weeds, but I’m not sure what this is. Out of curiosity, I’m leaving it alone. Maybe once it blooms I can figure out what it is . . . and whether I want to keep it. Heck, for all I know, it could be something leftover from last year’s garden. I got all of my plants from the local Amish market, which predominately sells heirloom plants. And while seeds from hybrids will grow, the heirloom plants seem more willing to self-propagate.

Speaking of self-propagating, check out this runner that my peppermint plant sent out. I think I got a total of four runners off of it–and that’s not counting stems that bent over, touched the ground, and put out roots. This is why people warn that mint can take over your garden.

I told it, “You think you’re bad-ass, peppermint plant?” and I dug a little hole with my fingers and planted it on the embankment behind the house–which is currently overrun with poison ivy. If I can choke the poison ivy out with mint, I’ll consider that a big win. Plus, imagine how great the yard will smell!

I think I need one of these Alaskan mosquito suits. I can’t garden otherwise.

And maybe all that scent will get rid of the mosquitoes. They’re so bad, I can barely stand to take the dog out for a few minutes to potty. This morning I looked down and there was a swarm of mosquitoes around me, the dog, and the cat. Insect repellent only works for about 30 minutes at a time, and even then, they’re still swarming around your head and trying to fly into your ears. I have nearly as many bites on my face as I do on my arms and legs. And don’t talk to me about long-sleeves and pants! The fuggers will bite through your clothes.

If there was a DDT bomb, I’d press that button and drop it right in the middle of our yard. Where’s a mosquito-sized nuclear bomb when you need one?


So, here’s the herb patch after I’ve given it a serious haircut and have weeded a bit. The only thing that’s not doing very well is the dill; I think it’s in too shady a spot. I have one more mint plant to plant–spearmint. Since mint seems to be very hardy, I may dig up the dill and plant the spearmint there instead. If I can salvage the dill, I may stick it in one of my bales and see if I can get it to perk up.

Can you see the red tomato cage on the right hand side? The dill may not be growing over there, but I have some of those self-seeing heirloom tomato plants growing. I’m not sure if there are 4 different plants or one plant with branches; it was laying on the ground and half-buried under the sweet mint and borage. So I put the cage over it and propped it up. Once it straightens out, I can see better what I’m dealing with.

And see the marker in front of the cage? I picked it up at Hobby Lobby last year because I thought it was funny. Instead, it’s turned out prophetic: I don’t remember planting this!

Here’s the haul. The laundry basket is full of nothing but sweet mint!

And here’s the same material stripped of stems and a couple of days into drying. I’ve found for relatively small amounts of material, drying them loose on a paper plate works just as well as setting up screens or dehydrating in an oven. It does take longer this way, but it doesn’t require special equipment or extra time; I just make it a point to turn the piles of leaves whenever I’m in the kitchen until they’re all dry and crunchy. Then I can put them into storage.