Round Robin: Herb Gardening in Rows

Notes from regional herb gardeners

| April/May 2004

  • Get tips on herb garden design from Jo Ann Gardner.

WESTPORT, New York—When we started our adventure together nearly 50 years ago, my husband Jigs was the head gardener and I was the helper. I dutifully sowed, covered seeds with a light kick of soil as Jigs taught me, weeded and hoed. I had little interest in the garden except as a source of food for our growing family.

Even though I was not yet a true daughter of the soil, I was not exactly an ornament. I was very absorbed in giving birth (four times), caring for babies, learning to make their clothes from my old ones, learning to bake bread, learning to stretch the limits of a meager income and so on.

In mid to late May, horehound, borage, catnip, marjoram, basil, parsley, chamomile, thyme, summer savory, winter savory, lovage, salad burnet, dill, cress, sage and sunflowers were planted in the garden in straight rows.

Our records from those days are scanty compared to others we’ve kept for more than 30 years, but we do know that in 1969 we made 121/2 quarts of savory juice, so we had a use for the parsleys.

Although the growing season in Vermont is short, our harvests were huge. I recall evenings spent stripping the dried herb bunches that hung from wooden beams in our kitchen.

As a teacher of literature, Jigs had a fondness for literary herbs, which explains the rows of horehound and borage, the patches of calendula and pennyroyal by the back door, and the stand of elecampane and hyssop by the front door.

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