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Anybody keeping track of what’s going on in our garden (and everybody’s keeping track, right?) may have noticed:  No herbs!  (Not counting the basil, of course.)

Why?  Well, for one thing we got a late start with our indoor growing.  Herbs like thyme, oregano and sage, which take a long time to germinate and slowly develop to transplantable size, are best started in early January.  We didn’t plant our first seeds until the end of March (see March 24, 2013).  At that time, we were more concerned about tomatoes, cucumbers and squash than additional herbs.

Since then, with everything else we have been doing—planting, watering, nurturing, potting up, setting out; oh, and removing sod and placing cedar mulch—there just hasn’t been time.  Whenever we stopped to consider planting the herbs, we always concluded that there was something else more pressing that needed to be attended to first.

And there is also the question of where to plant them.  The adjunct herb garden of last year (on the concrete stoop outside one of our house’s doors) is no longer easily accessible.  My office is located just inside the door and my desk blocks it from opening.

The corner of the back porch, where we grew herbs two years ago, is now occupied by a bright yellow hibiscus plant in an intensely deep-blue ceramic pot (a gift from a friend; thank you!).  We tried placing a pot or two of basil beside the hibiscus but decided that it looked too busy and detracted from the flowers’—and the pot’s—simple beauty.

Meanwhile, at the other side of the house, several existing herbs from years gone by are staging a modest comeback.  Two of them—chives and oregano—we planted several years ago and left for dead after their first season; they’ve returned every year since.  Another three—thyme, tarragon and sage—we transplanted from the pots they grew in last year.  This spot, in partial shade all day, is not ideal for herbs but apparently it is good enough.

So, that’s where we’ll grow our herbs this year.  To fill out the space, we added spearmint and rosemary, the only plants we’ve purchased so far this season.  We would have transplanted our spearmint and peppermint from last year, but neither of them survived (which is odd because I consider mint an aggressive and invasive herb).  Finally, we nestled two pots of basil (ones we couldn’t give away) in among the other herbs.

This herb garden makes a pretty picture and, if it is successful, will be much more convenient to the kitchen.

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We have a small vestibule—it’s about five feet square—at the east end of the dining room.  Its door opens almost directly onto the road and, with the exception of the pizza delivery man, no one ever uses it.  For the last two years, the door has served only as the portal to our adjunct herb garden which is located on a concrete stoop.  The vestibule itself has become a de facto storage room.

But we’ve decided to convert the vestibule into an office alcove in which I can do my writing and other work.  I don’t need much space—I do most of my work on the computer—so the vestibule’s small size should not be issue.  With a modest desk and some shelves, the room will provide the work and storage space I need while keeping the clutter that is inevitable with offices out of view of the dining room.

It’s proximity to the kitchen will be an added benefit (to get coffee and brain food, as Rachel would say) and because work and social hours rarely overlap, my work should not be affected by dinner parties or other dining room events (and vice versa).

The only downside to the plan is that we will lose the use of the door and as a result will no longer have easy access to the adjunct herb garden.  So another of our planning chores this spring will be to decide where to move the pots of herbs.  For instance, they may end up downstairs, in a corner of the back porch where they were located in 2011.

Or, we may move the herbs back to the patio where we grew them prior to 2011 (and where hardy sage, oregano and chives are still growing).  This location has promise due to its convenient location and will be better suited to growing in general once we remove some trees (see February 6, 2013).  We had abandoned this site due to lack of sunlight.

Either way, here are the herbs we’ve decided to grow this year:

  • Genovese Basil
  • Greek Oregano
  • Aromatic Rosemary
  • Extrakta Garden Sage
  • French Summer Thyme
  • Spearmint

All of these should be started from seed indoors (yes, soon).

After last year’s experience, we will leave the growing of parsley and cilantro to the farmers who have acres and acres to devote to it.