Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Monday in the Backyard Herb Garden

Recap of our volunteer work day at the county extension demonstration herb garden:
Sharron and Gloria met me in garden to work, we worked from 9-1:30 with a small learning break. Mike brought 12 pails of compost. We spread it and dug some of it in.

We planted:
1 very small ginkgo tree (a bare rooted whip I purchased at Genesee Conservation District last year and grew in a pot)
1 white common yarrow (Flint Yard and Garden plant sale)
3 Achillea 'Terra Cotta' yarrow (Bluestone Perennials)
3 Dianthus 'Bath's Pink' (Bluestone Perennials)
onions in 'compost bed' (donated by Pat Whetham)
several seed packets in "compost bed": arugula, swiss chard, kale, dill (seed from Meijers), french sorrel(seed from JLHudson Seedsman).
10 calendula seedlings in culinary circle (seed from Michigan Herb Associates) .

We paused for some herb learning time:
I brought herb butter to sample on a sliced baguette.
(Recipe: whipped butter, lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, and minced chervil, chives, and a little winter savory. We discussed using and freezing herb butter wrapped in waxed paper and shaped in a log as shown in the photo.
This butter we sampled would be great served with poached salmon or chicken, eggs, or on steamed Michigan asparagus.)

I brought bottles of my dried chervil, parsley, chives, and french tarragon to compare with fresh herbs. All these herbs are ready to use fresh from the garden right now. In each case, the fresh samples I picked would be miles better to use right now than last summer's dried herbs.
We also talked about lovage and ginkgo.

I brought some useful books:
For identifying plants: The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Wildflowers- Eastern by Neiring and Olmstead (Knopf)
For i.d. plus information on medicinal uses of plants: Peterson Field Guides Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Foster and Duke, (Houghton Mifflin)
A great little book on using herbs: The Herbal Pantry by Tolley and Mead, (Potter)

I'd like to say a special thanks to Kathy who the painted Herb Garden sign. The color is what I'd call a sort of French lavender blue - it looks great! I'll have to take a photo of it next time I stop by the garden.
Special thanks also goes to Mike for hauling more buckets of compost, and for working on the drainage tile quest. These additions to the garden will be a big improvement.
And loads of appreciation goes to Gloria who led the way double digging that compost into the bed where we planted the yarrow.
Thanks goes in advance to Karen for offering to be our 'watering angel' for the seeds we just planted.
Finally, big thanks to Sharron as well for the hard work on Monday - we always comment the garden looks better after a work session. Sharron offered to map the garden when she can get there on her own because we are always tired out after working on our gardening projects.
The working volunteers are what makes the project good.

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