Get down and dirty in the garden
Cynthia Meredith has been gardening with herbs, reading about herbs, and discussing herb gardening in Texas for more than 20 years. She has owned The Herb Cottage (www.theherbcottage.com) for over 10 years, selling herb plants to people all over our state.
Well, much to my delight, we had rain this week! Two inches fell yesterday and it's raining lightly now as I write. I couldn't be more pleased. The leaves on the grapefruit and blood orange trees have finally unfurled after months of being curled up to prevent transpiration as best as they could. Poor things... they were so stressed.
What about the herb garden, you may ask? Well, I had cut back more herb plants about a week or so ago and already they are showing new growth. Of course, I have been watering them, too. All the cooler season herbs I seeded in flats are doing great: cilantro, thyme, dill, chervil and arugula are all almost ready to pot up.
If it stops raining later this afternoon I'm going to seed parsley, both curly leaf and flat leaf, in one herb bed. I'm going to do the curly variety as a border, with the flat leaf behind it. Later, I'm going to plant lettuce and mesclun greens in that bed since it's near the back door, handy to the kitchen.
The large potted plants, big basil specimens, blue spice basil — a great butterfly attractor when in bloom — olive trees (yes, the olive is considered an herb) and rosemary look so much better with the rainwater rather than the well water they've been getting. Rainwater is so soft compared to our mineral-rich well water, the plants prefer it. Alas, I wish I could give then rainwater each week, but that is not how it's been going here, as you know.
I have a couple of large lavender plants outside the yard near some olive and pomegranate trees I put in the ground; this is my little Mediterranean garden. Lavender sits in the middle of the area with pomegranate on the right and olive on the left in the background behind the lavender group. I have not watered any of this area at all during the drought. Now, I'm a little concerned about the lavender. Here in our area, after lavender has been growing in very dry conditions for a while, rain can cause fungus to attack the plant and eventually compromise it so much it dies. I hope that doesn't happen!
With the rains, the bay laurel looks a lot happier, like it can relax and enjoy being alive rather than being stiff and closed up to keep what little moisture is in the leaves. I know I feel more relaxed and a lot happier with the rain. And, I have more hours in the day to tend to plants, seed more flats and do other things — like write — because I don't have to spend time watering. I hope, if you need rain, you're getting what you need. And, I hope you're enjoying the late summer with your herbs.
This is my little water garden with raindrops. The pipe on the left attaches to the gutter on the house and brings rainwater into the pond. We set it up when we think it's going to rain. Notice how completely brown it is around the pond. That should be green, growing grass. But, not this year! Of course, it cuts down on the mowing!!
"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."
—Marcus Tullius Cicero