Thursday, January 7, 2010

Of herbs and such

I was home from work today...and it wasn't the weather, although the weather outside is frightful! I was sick. Yup, sore throat, cough, low-grade fever and generally feeling icky. School was in session but K9 was the only one who went. I12 was hacking and coughing all night and we decided even before we went to bed last night that he wasn't going. J15 was also coughing and miserable this morning so we let her stay home as well. It was a day of snuggling on the couch under the blankets, drinking lots of herbal tea and for me at least, going through the seed catalogs.
I've got my fruit tree order ready to go and I'll probably place that tonight. It's through Gurney's. They're having an on-line early-bird sale and I've got a $25 off coupon that I can use. So we've got plans for Granny Smith, Gala and Sweet Sixteen apples, a Stella Cherry, and two more highbush blueberry bushes. All in all it should roll out to about $75. It seems like a lot given the state of our checking account at the moment but I keep telling myself that it is an investment in our future. And really- it really isn't bad for 4 trees and 2 blueberries. I'm still thinking about strawberries. I need to replant this year since the deer totally demolished them last year. They were outside the fenced garden area and I ended up not having time to protect them from devastation before it was too late. They will go in one of the raised beds. But I'm still thinking....
But mostly today, I've been trying to finalize the list for the herbs. It's still a work in progress but here is the list so far:
Culinary herbs: Rosemary (based on comments I've heard, we're just going to put it in a big pot rather than risk it overwintering), Sage, Tarragon, Thyme, Oregano, Marjoram, Chives, Italian Parsley and Summer Savory. We will also have basil but that will be in the regular garden since I tend to use and plant a lot. The only thing new to me to grow is Summer Savory but it sounds good.
I've read that nasturtiums repel squash bugs and cucumber beetles so I'm planning to plant them in the raised bed with the squash and cucumbers.
Herbs for tea: German Chamomile, Lavender, Lavender (or Anise) Hyssop, Bergamot (Bee balm) and possibly Clary Sage. I will also most likely plant a row of Borage in the garden although the Japanese Beetles love it so much. J15 really wants some Lemon Verbena but it isn't hardy here and would have to be another potted plant. She also wants to try to grow Stevia but it's the same thing. Until we have the solarium built we only have so much window space with good light.
We also want to grow several mints but since I have always had such trouble with them spreading into everything else, we've decided to put in a separate Mint Garden with peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm (or lemon mint, or both) Chocolate mint and hopefully apple mint.
Separate from the herb beds we also want to grow some tansy, and some pennyroyal and wormwood for pest control. Maybe a few other things over time. Now I realize that this is a huge list. I'll most likely not be able to plant all these this year. But the list is a place to start.
J15 and I decided that we want to take a trip to Decorah this spring, up to the Seed Savers Exchange. They have a spring plant sale from April 5th through June 13th. I'm thinking that maybe I could pick up a plant (or 2, or 3, or...) of something different so I don't have to buy an entire package of seeds. It could be a fun way to expand my garden repertoire without all the trouble. And besides, it isn't far and it is one of those places that I've always wanted to visit but haven't made it to yet. This will be the year!!

Well, the wind is picking up here. It's been in the teens all day but is now supposed to start dropping. We've got probably about 8 inches of snow. And here I was worried about having snow on the ground for the sledding party that we are hosting on the 17th. I just hope it's warm enough to make it fun to go sledding. We're hosting the January youth event for our church and since we have such a great hill we're hoping to go sledding. Weather permitting we'll have a bonfire outside. But regardless, we'll have hot chocolate, cider and treats. I'll let you know more details as I figure them out.

Stay warm and safe.


  1. What a great herb list! i've grown them for 2 years and run them through the dehydrator every summer/fall. So much nicer than the store bought! Hope you all feel better soon

  2. The trip to Seed Savers sounds like so much fun! (Boy do I sound like a dork now, huh?!) Someday I want to route our trip home through MO so we can visit the Baker Creek "town" and check out all the stuff they have, there's even a campground! Did you check out Stark Bros. trees? I am really happy with my colonnade Apples, and I will say they arrived at 3 times the size of anything I had gotten from anyone else. But how nice it will be in a few years to have your own mini-orchard! Hope you are feeling better soon!

  3. I've gotten Gurney's catalogs too. They must do it to torture me since it's still almost five months before things really start growing here. I've planted fruit trees also, apricot, plum, pear, cherry and grapes. There were two apples when we moved here. We're zone 4 so can't expect a crop every year, but I gotta try. Been thinking about the vegetable garden too, gonna try raised beds this year. Hope you're all feeling better.

  4. Sorry to hear you and the kids were all sickly! Hope everyone feels better tomorrow. Glad to hear you have your trees and berries all figured out..will you change them before spring?? lol.
    We are in the midst of another snow storm that came down from Canada - 2-6 inches tonight with more tomorrow...wishing you all a speedy recovery!!...debbie

  5. Hi Judy-

    Nice list and plans! I look forward to hearing about your seed savers trip. I've always wanted to go to their summer festival but haven't made it there yet. Did you know that SSE has a whole fruit and nut section too? I attended an apple grafting seminar last year with one of their fruit tree experts.

  6. We got about 8 inches of snow here. Could have been worse!
    Hope you are all feeling better soon. With my oldest two sons in 1st grade & preschool it seems as if someone is always sick in our house. School = kids germs...
    Anyway, I am also hoping to take a trip to Decorah! I looked a few months ago, and I think it's about a 3 hour drive for us.
    I'd have to go in the winter because spring/summer are too busy....

  7. Oh, forgot to mention. I'm thinking of buying some fruit trees from the Arbor Day Foundation instead of Guerneys. If you join the foundation ($10), you can buy the fruit trees for less than $10 each, and they're listed at 3-4 feet tall, which is the same as what Guerneys says in their catalog.
    They don't have nearly the selection, but it's hard to pass up fruit trees for that price...

  8. I've been thinking about going to Decorah AND the Baker Creek place lately. It just seems like it'd be too much fun. ;)

    I companion plant, too, and the one thing I forgot last year which really seemed to have an impact was marigolds around my tomatoes. I plant tons of them around the tomatoes and then take the dead plant and put it in the bed at the end of the year. (I do take some of the flower heads off to feed to my bunnies, though.)

  9. jealous jealous will probably still be YEARS before I have any garden modified and improved enough to grow anything...*sigh* apples sound good, herbs sound good, just ship some of everything my way okay ;)


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