The Backyard

The Backyard

Friday, November 25, 2011

November 25 Garden in Central Pennsylvania

November has been exceptionally mild with temperatures hovering in the mid-fifties all month.  The mercury hit the low-sixties a couple times and the warm days have me still in the garden.  Food-wise, we're still eating salads made of spinach, carrots, onions, radishes, radicchio with some chard and kale thrown in, and there are a handful of red beets still trying to grow (doubt that they will amount to much at this point).  Work-wise, there's always something to do.   Today or tomorrow, I plan to finish up a project that's been about two years overdue: the herb garden overhaul.   I started to leave it go last year when mother took ill and now is the first chance I had to get digging.  It's a grassy mess.  I feel like I'm digging up the hay field by hand - literally.  A variety of switch grass has found its way from the field (only 10 feet from the herb garden) and covered about 1/4 of the approximately 700 square-foot garden.  It's difficult to dig up, but the end is in sight.  The grass roots entangled themselves in any remaining herbs which meant they too had to be dug up, de-grassed, then replanted.   This was the first of the beds I put in when we moved here 20 years ago.  At the time, it placed second in a local herb garden contest.  Out of 80ish entries, this garden and the herbs surrounding my house caught the judges attention for the variety of plants I used and the aesthetic appeal.  I had plants like silver wormwood, santolina, germander and one of my favorites that I've since completely pulled because it takes over, silver queen (makes beautiful wreaths). I had the traditional herbs too like tansy, lavender, and rosemary. All in all, there must have over 60 varieties of all kinds of herbs everywhere around the house.  I just love them.    At the time, I used very few herbs in cooking.  Today, the herb garden overhaul will be mostly edibles and a handful of varieties that attract beneficial insects.  Here's the rundown of the planned final herbs come spring.  This list may change.

Bulb fennel
Purple and green basil
Lemon Verbena (maybe - don't really use this too much but I love the scent)
Some sort of mint (there are dozens of varieties - I plan to plant a variety to dry and drink over the winter as tea).
Tansy (for beneficial insects)
Bronze fennel (for beneficial insects)
Garlic Chives (for beneficial insects)
St. John's Wort (good ground cover - and the flowers attract bees)
Wormwood (for beneficial insects)
Sunflowers (for the bees and birds)
Sweet Annie (for the beneficial insects)
Purple oregano (for the beneficial insects)
Russian Sage (for beneficial insects)
Rue (for beneficial insects and bees)



The Happy Hippy said...

Fabulous - roll on spring. For our last herb garden I took inspiration from Geoff Hamilton's book "The Ornamental Kitchen Garden". Highly recommended. Unfortunately, with the climate difference it's not entirely relevant for me, this time round. Enjoy your musings over the final plant list and design.

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