Alchemy Garden Journal Entry 4: First Round of Herbs

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Even though I prefer to social distance, I made my first trip to a store other than a grocery store in almost 2 months. My local gardening center is still open, so I went in with my mask to try to obtain my first round of herbs for the garden.

I tried to find items according to the gardening books I borrowed, but with everyone’s haywire panic buying and sudden interest in gardening (and baking), I couldn’t find half of what I needed.

So, I decided to make use of what was available: organic soil and liquid fertilizer. I was only buying herbs, so I could always go back later and add to the garden. This is the first time that I ever paid attention to the types of soil available. I used to use organic all-purpose soil for everything, but now I see that I can also use soil depending on whether the plant is potted, in a raised bed, or in the ground.

For the raised bed that my dad is building for me, I plan to work with the soil ratio suggestions in the books I borrowed: 45% topsoil, 45% peat-free soil mix, and 10% course grit. In the meantime, I’m only going to plant the purchased herbs in pots.

The Josephine Pot: Hot and Spicy Oregano, Genovese Basil, and French Marigolds.

POT 1: The Josephine Pot

One of my favorite customers is a super sweet lady also from New York named Josephine. I never have a bad day when she visits, so I named the pot after her. When I see it, hopefully it will send me good vibes for the day. I planted Genovese Basil, Hot and Spicy Oregano, and French Marigolds in this pot. I probably planted all of these way too close together, but I’ll learn from my mistake later. Since Virginia can get too cold, I may have to grow these plants as annuals anyway.

Genovese Basil: This is probably the most popular one to grow because of its excellent flavor. This is my favorite basil to cook with because I love to throw mounds of it on pizza! It doesn’t have many pests when grown outside, but it does need to be pruned regularly―something I’m new to. I used to think I was doing a good job getting my basil to grow super tall with flowers, but after watching Garden Answer, I learned that basil should be pruned often to enhance growth and protect the flavor. Once it begins to flower, the flavor changes.

Hot and Spicy Oregano: This is a spicier version I’ve never had before. I usually get Greek oregano, but I wanted to try something new. Oregano also likes drier soil with lots of sun. As I learn about these herbs, I’m noticing that they don’t require quite as much fertilizer as I thought they did. Apparently, the richer the soil, the weaker the taste and aroma.

French Marigolds: According to my gardening books, marigolds are popular flowers to plant with other crops as a way to ward off pests such as aphids while also bringing in helpful pollinators such as hoverflies. I honestly never knew what they looked like until I bought them from the store. They only ones left were gorgeous and amber in color.

The Pink Pot: English Thyme and Provence Lavender

POT 2: The Pink Pot

Darn! I was supposed to name this pot too, but I got carried away with decorating the rim! That’s okay. I’m just going to call it The Pink Pot. I put English Thyme and Provence Lavender in this pot. This is a special pot because both thyme and lavender are perennials, I learned, so I don’t have to bring them inside; I can let the frost do its thing when it gets cold, and care for the soil as needed.

English Thyme: according to veggieharvest.com, thyme likes well-drained soil and lots of sun. It doesn’t need much fertilizer nor watering. Thyme does not typically have pest or disease problems. I can pick them as needed.

Provence Lavender: Lavender, like thyme, also prefers drier soil and sunny areas. It does not do well in humidity nor does it like wet and cold environments. I’ll have to protect it when it gets colder by placing it closer to the back wall.

The Patty Pot: Red Onion and Garlic Chive Seeds

POT 3: The Patty Pot

Patty in real life was a college friend I wished I had kept in contact with. We spent a lot of afternoons wondering how we got stuck with the wacko professors we had! This pot is purely experimental. I threw in some red onion bulbs and garlic chive seeds.

Red Onion: Occasionally I’ll buy an organic onion that begins to sprout within a week or so. I decided to experiment and plant the bulb in a pot along with chives to see if I can get more red onions out of it. This pot is purely experimental, so I don’t know what the heck is going to happen!

Garlic Chives: Chives are the only herbs I’m growing from seeds. They are very forgiving and I’ve decided to grow some in the same pot as the red onion.

The Ariel Pot: Spearmint

POT 4: The Ariel Pot

I had two childhood friends named Ariel growing up. For some reason, it was the first name to pop into my head while I was painting cherry blossoms on the pot. It contains spearmint.

Spearmint: Another plant that doesn’t require much food, spearmint is the only mint that I like. I grew peppermint two years ago, but I found that I didn’t care too much for the taste even though it was a lovely plant. It likes moist soil, so I have to water it more than other herbs. It also has to stay in its own pot so that it doesn’t overtake other plants.

Zoe Rosemary Pot: Barbecue Rosemary

POT 5: The Zoë Rosemary Pot

I once had a yorkie named Zoë. Since I decided to pot rosemary in the planter, I named the pot Zoë Rosemary. I liked how it sounded! And since she was a feisty little dog, I thought it would be fun to paint sugar skulls on the pot!

Barbeque Rosemary: Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs (I can tolerate quite a bit of it). I found out that this plant prefers sandy, drier soil. Like most of the other herbs, it doesn’t need much plant food and practically no fertilizer else the flavor and smell deteriorate. Even though it’s technically a perennial, a bad frost can kill it. I’ll have to mulch it when it begins to get cold.

Patio on 5/2/20

The patio is like a whole new room!

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2 Comments

  • carolee June 14, 2020 at 9:55 am Reply

    Just a suggestion or two…since I owned an herb farm for over forty years, and am passionate about herbs….your basil will like LOTS of water and needs a diluted monthly fertilizer, but the oregano likes it drier than the basil or marigold, so I’d pull it out and give it its own pot. Hot N Spicy is a good choice! The basil and marigold are more than enough to use up the space in that small pot. Provence Lavender is actually a lavandin and will get 3′ across and nearly that tall! It is winter hardy even here in central Indiana. It doesn’t need much water or fertilizer, just avoid wood chips and give it 8-10 hours of sunlight a day. Your pots are lovely…good painting!

    • Chris June 16, 2020 at 1:02 pm Reply

      Thanks visiting and thanks for the painting compliments! Also, thank you for the advice (believe me, I need it)! As of right now, I no longer have the oregano because my complex accidentally mowed it after I removed from the pot, but I’ll be taking your advice when I get a new one and give it its own pot. And, since lavender can get that big, I’ll probably need to transplant it into a larger pot, won’t I? Thankfully it’s one of the healthiest plants in my garden!

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