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In the Garden

Get down and dirty in the garden

Spring Cleaning in the Garden

by Lemon Verbena Lady

Tags: Lemon Verbena Lady, Nancy Heraud, Spring, Cleaning, Spring Cleaning, Salad Burnet, Minette Basil Sticks, Henbit,

N.HeraudYou can check out the Lemon Verbena Lady at her blog

We had a beautiful weekend for late March and so I ventured into the herb garden to see what was sprouting and what the damage might be. I tend to do too much during the first days of spring in the herb garden so I'm trying to pace myself this year. (Learn how to pace yourself.)

Lemon Verbena Herb Garden
The Lemon Verbena Lady's herb garden in early spring.

I am always pleased to see a perennial favorite of mine, salad burnet (Poterium sanguisorba). It doesn't get too large in one season and sometimes reproduces itself, but it is not an herbal thug. It has very pretty red seed heads toward fall. It also has a delightful cucumber flavor and is a great substitute if you can't tolerate eating cucumbers. I think I will keep the leaves around it so that if we get a frost it will withstand it.

Salad burnet 2
Salad burnet peaks out from under the leaves.

The next plant is in the Lamium family. It is more of a weed and is called purple henbit dead-nettle. It looks like it belongs in the rock wall, but no! It will just keep reproducing and will take over if you let it.

Purple dead nettle
Purple dead-nettle gets cozy in the rock wall.

I'm always excited when I can identify a plant, whether it is a weed or an herbal treasure. My favorite weed book is called Weeds of the Northeast by Richard H. Uva, Joseph C. Neal and Joseph M. DiTomaso (Cornell University Press, 1997). If you live in the Northeast, it is a classic for identifying those pesky weeds.

I wanted to take out some of the annual herbs before the start of the growing season. Although The Herbal Husband keeps them to the last minute hoping for a re-sprout. So when I took out the 'Minette' basil sticks (Ocimum basilicum 'Minette'), the overwhelming smell was of basil!

Minette basil sticks
Intoxicating Minette basil sticks.

It is one of my favorite basils because it has great leaf production and is a smaller size than the regular basil. I had never smelled it so intensely in winter. It took me right back to summer and a tomato, basil and feta cheese salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil!

There were broken stems of lavender, but most of the herb garden survived without problems. I will be editing the garlic chives (Allium tuberosum) that will take over the herb garden if I let them. Overall it was a good start to cleaning up the herb garden. I will work on pruning the thymes, lavenders and other herbs mid-April or so. I don't want to start pruning too soon because we still could have frost.

If you have questions about clean up or pruning your herbs, please let me know.