We have a three-tiered garden area at the top of our driveway. The very top bed is where our Espaliered Apple tree lives. The other two beds are for herbs. We both love to cook so having fresh herbs growing on the property is a blessing. In the summer, besides using herbs in the usual cooking fare, I also like to make Rosemary Lemonade and Lemon Verbena Sorbet (recipes at the end.) Needless to say, herbs play a significant role in our kitchen. So, when I went to clean out the herb beds this January, I was broken hearted at my discovery.
As you can see from the photo I took in January, the beds were quite a mess. However, what you can’t see is that the soil had gotten so heavy that it was no longer providing adequate drainage for the herbs. Their roots rotted and most of these herbs had to be pulled. I took a soil sample and some of the rotted roots to my local nursery to ask them what went wrong and what I could do.
Turns out the peat moss and steer manure I used many years ago to amend, enrich, and lighten the soil had become heavy over the years. The nursery man informed me that current wisdom suggests using a mixture of chicken manure with fine bark dust. Great. So, out came all the plants, in went 12 bags of ‘chicken & chips’ and I double dug it all in. 3 days of back breaking work and I was ready for new plants. I also decided to give the garden a new look, with a new sign and new plant tags. Brian helped me by cutting out the wood for the sign. I used flat black paint, 4 coats front and back, to coat the board. Then, instead of hand painting the letters, I designed the text, sent it to a Graphic Communications Company and had exterior vinyl transfer made. I’m really pleased with the results.
So far the new plants are doing quite well so am hopeful to have some healthy herbs to trim for use in the kitchen very soon.
If you enjoy herbs, you might like to try one of these recipes this summer. Bon Appetit!
1/2 Cup sugar, 6 Cups water, 6 – 4-inch sprigs of fresh rosemary, 1/2 to 3/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (meyer lemons work well here too)
To make the syrup: Bring sugar & 2 cups of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add rosemary springs, cover, and remove from heat. Let the syrup steep for at least 30 minutes.
To make the lemonade: Strain the syrup into a pitcher & discard the rosemary sprigs. Stir in 1/2 cup lemon juice & remaining 4 cups water. Taste and add more lemon juice to taste. Serve chilled.
Lemon Verbena Sorbet
1 Cup gently packed lemon verbena leaves, 1 Cup superfine sugar, 1/4 Cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, 3 Cups cold water
Grind the lemon verbena leaves and sugar together in a food processor until the mixture turns into a bright green paste, about 30 seconds; stop to scrape down sides as necessary. Add lemon juice & process for 15 seconds longer, then add the water. Strain the resulting liquid through a fine sieve to remove any bits of leave. Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.
I hope you all enjoyed your weekend.