Amazingly, that time of year has come around again when it's time to start thinking about this year's garden. As I mentioned in this post, laying out my goals for the year, I would like to try growing herbs in our tiny urban backyard this year instead of vegetables. My vegetable gardening didn't go so well in 2010, so I'd like to try something different. I know that most herbs are fairly easy to grow, which is an advantage for me this year when I will be busy all summer with a new baby. As well, growing and using herbs is simply something I've always been interested in but have never pursued.
Although life has been so busy and crazy lately for a variety of reasons, I have made an effort to sit down and read through the Richter's catalogue of herb seeds and plants--they have every herb I've ever heard of in there, as well as many I haven't--as well as an old book I picked up at a library sale a few years back, The Harrowsmith Illustrated Book of Herbs.
I think the general conclusion I have come to after researching is that I'm going to focus mostly on culinary herbs for now. I love using herbs to dress up a dish in a simple way. Fresh herbs like rosemary, basil and even humble parsley are delicious, and this year what I want to do is grow enough of the ones I use often, to dry some for winter. Dried herbs in the grocery store are so expensive, and I find the ones at the bulk store are lacking in quality and freshness.
Probably I will get most of my herbs from the local garden centre rather than start them from seed, since I have limited space and don't need multiples of each plant. Right now I'm planning on parsley, rosemary, thyme, dill, and basil. I expect the chives I grew last year will come up again as they usually do.
Spearmint and lemon balm are already in the garden for adding to cold drinks or for tea.
And, I also plan on planting lavender and chamomile, for making potpurri and baby powder. I hope I get enough chamomile to dry for tea as well, since I find it very helpful for heartburn and indigestion.
I might not have room after planting all the above, but I'd like to grow two or three medicinal herbs as well. Something I have always wanted to do is make my own healing salve for the skinned knees and scraped elbows that inevitably happen to children who spend the summer playing outside. So I'm going to get a few packets of seeds from Richter's for this purpose. Calendula for certain, perhaps chickweed. I know comfrey is highly valued for healing wounds, but I'm not sure about adding it to the garden as my Harrowsmith book indicates it can take over.
Perhaps when it comes time to make my salve, I'll remember to harvest some plantain from around my neighbourhood, where it is the most common weed. Did you know that fresh plantain leaves are supposed to remove the pain and stinging of insect bites?
Well, those are my tentative gardening plans for this year. When I get the chance I'll try to do up some sketches of plant placement in my gardening journal. It's so pleasant to think about all this greenery in early February, when the view from my window is decidedly lacking in green. :)
P.S. For those of you who expressed an interest in the perogy cutter Chris made for me a few weeks ago, they are now in our Etsy shop. :)