Plant Post

In yesterday's post, I was getting off on a gardening tangent and rather than create the world's longest blog entry, decided to save it to post today. Outside it's still cool, drizzly and gloomy. Though I'll gladly take that vs. 90F (32-33C)!!

Getting back to gardening, I seem to have inherited my great grandmother's green thumb. She was born in Denmark and came to the U.S. before the turn of the century. I never knew my grandmother who died in the influenza pandemic of the late 1917-1920's, (source: Wikipedia) just after my mom was born so I have no idea what her green thumb was like.

My mom readily admitted to having a black thumb, though personally think it's because she had so much else on her plate that plant and garden research took a major back seat in her life. I, myself was hooked on gardening ever since I saw the huge aspidistra (commonly known as "cast iron plant", a mainstay in  Victorian households) on my great grandma's sun porch. From there it wasn't far to the sweet potato suspended in a jar of water growing an enormously long vine, to planting seeds from an orange I ate (which actually grew) to a fascination with African Violets brought on by my great grandmother's collection.

By the time I was 23, I had over 300 violets (at least that's when the neighbor who'd volunteered to water them while I was away, stopped counting for fear she'd never finish). I had self-made light shelves and hydroponics using margarine tubs. Finally, I felt a need to branch out into other kinds of plants. Actually this was brought on by a visit to my pen pal in The Netherlands in the late 70's, where I discovered so many more plants including papyrus which grows in standing water! Yeah, this is all common knowledge now, but back then we were not a global society with instant access to scads of info. From the early 70's through the mid 80's I had house plants in every room of the house (that was big back then).
Russian Sage
Well, it's been a long journey since and now that I live in So Cal, all my plants are outdoors. I have my favorites but always enjoy something new. So this year, I'll replenish the herbs I always like to have on hand:  thyme, oregano, sage, rosemary, dill and cilantro. I may add Italian flat leaf parsley. Yes, it's a truly exciting life I live here at Grey House! I'm sure the suspense is just killing you! Lol!
Things I've learned from trial and error:  plant labels are often not all that accurate especially at the big discount stores where the labels are easily switched when they fall out of the pots. Go on line and look up the forms that each plant comes in. For example, Wikipedia lists 20 different kinds of rosemary.  I always choose a vertical growing rosemary like Tuscan Blue, since the creeping kind is messy and I find it hard to use for cooking since it collects dog hair being so low to the ground. Same for oregano and thyme unless you want the herb as a decoration between stones on a path and not for cooking. Dill and cilantro are always, as far as I know upright growers and annuals or at best, self seeders so need to be re-sown each time. Here those two get sown in the spring and after they bolt in the summer they get pulled up. In the fall (aka late October) I sow them again. The others can overwinter well especially if you're in a temperate climate like this or have a greenhouse. Oh and choose your sage carefully, over the years I've picked up Jerusalem sage and Russian sage which after a year or so bear little resemblance to culinary sage. I've enjoyed both cultivars but they grow into huge plants and while great for perennial gardens and color accents, don't fit my bill for growing in pots or cooking. In fact, the picture below is of a first year Jerusalem Sage. By end of year two it's three times this size. I know from experience!
Jerusalem Sage
As far as parsley, I don't care for it so never use it. Recently however, I read that Italian flat leaf parsley has a different taste...which is why I may plant some this year. I love to edge walks with nasturtiums but some black sticky pest seems to have overwintered as did the green tomato horn worm, so nasturtiums and tomatoes are out of the picture for my little plot of land. I will try them in pots though which are set away from their previous growing spots.
I'd like to plant yellow zucchini, but there are just too many slugs to be bothered with making a net frame to hold them off the ground. Definitely thinking Blue Lake beans and probably the climbing kind to cover the "attractive" chain link fence surrounding the back porch. Maybe some kind of climbing peas too.

If I had more room, I'd plant white sweet corn since so much of the commercially grown corn is being used for ethanol and the cost has gone way up in the grocery. About 12 years ago I could get fabulous Chino white corn at farm stands there. The area's now been (over) developed within an inch of its life. And while the air wreaked of cow manure due to all the farms, holy cow those babies made for good corn! But I digress. I was contemplating tiny gold rush potatoes but since this is a rental house there's really no where to do this without mucking up the grass. I may try rainbow swiss chard in a large pot and if I can find a dwarf Meyer lemon for a decent price (like not $90.00/63 Euro) I have the perfect pot for it.

Well I could daydream about this all day in my little vacuum, which is why I joined Brin's community on the blog frog. She has a blog I enjoy called My Messy, Thrilling Life. Her desire to get back to the simpler things in life inspires me and now with this community, we can all share our love of many things like gardening to name just one. So go check it out, I think you'll enjoy it!

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home