Sunday, May 23, 2010

Herbs



You may remember that one of my gardening resolutions for 2010 was to be more diligent in harvesting and drying herbs. Never one to procrastinate, I launched the first harvest yesterday.

It was prompted when I offered our visiting neighbour Nick a choice of teas, and he expressed a preference for something we had grown. Fortunately I had the one measly baggie of dried mint that was the sum total of all the herbs I harvested last year - and very nice tea it was, too. And it got me thinking that I better get going, or I'd be forced to serve Nick tea from a box the next time he was over.

So out to the garden I went. I had my eye on a beautiful, rounded mound of lemon balm, and an incredibly vigorous patch of oregano, both growing in the herb bed in the vegetable garden. These two herbs are everywhere at Mucky Boots - I think one of the two previous gardeners of the property divided them repeatedly and used them to fill in empty spots in the perennial beds. There are probably half a dozen mounds of lemon balm and about four times that many patches of oregano here and there. There's even a bunch of oregano growing out of the rock wall near the workshop.

Three minutes was the scissors was all it took to cut enough to fill a really big colander to overflowing. The stripping of the stems and tying of the bundles took longer, but it was a nicely meditative thing to do while sitting on the verandah. I ended up with a dozen bundles which I washed and then tucked into paper bags to protect them from dust and bugs. Kim is going to fasten an old garden trellis horizontally to the ceiling of the verandah so I can hang the bundles for drying.

Mint is already making itself seen in the perennial beds, so some bunches of that will soon join the happy herbal hangout. Once it's dry, I'm thinking lemon balm and mint might make a nice combination for tea, maybe with a few of the lavender flowers I saved from last summer thrown in. The Mucky Boots Blend is born.

3 comments:

Paula said...

That tea combination sounds great- I hope to grow tea herbs eventually.

Hey- I hope you two are thinking bees. Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) is the pre-eminent bee forage. Honey bees are Apis mellifera, so they even share the root of the Latin name for lemon balm. Bees also like borage a lot, but they love lemon balm- how lucky to have so much!

Miriam said...

Bees were one of the first things Kim was interested in, back when this place was just an idea in our heads. But in talking with the bee keepers at our local farmer's market, we found out that honey bees like their hives on a bit of a hill, with a breeze, and our place is in a river valley all surrounded by trees. When we get everything else under control we may give it a try anyway. And although they may prefer to have their hives somewhere else, honey bees seem to love to visit, because there are a lot around.

I didn't know that about lemon balm- you are a fountain of information! The bees certainly seem to love the comfrey that's flowering right now.

Natalie said...

I want to follow your lead.
Tell me about "stripping the stems." Is it as simple as leaving bare stem, so you can neatly bundle them?
We have mint, but it has been a damp spring and it is succumbing to rust-fungal torment.
Now I will think of you before it is too late and save healthy herbs.
Thank you.

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