I was gone for two weeks. During that time I cooked one dinner and did no gardening. It's a good thing I enjoyed the respite.
My garden exploded, as it tends to do in May – won't I ever learn? My tomato plants are short and fat instead of tall and lean; the rest of the potager had to be roto-tiled …. again; and the mole moved back into my herb garden leaving mounds of dirt almost as high as the weeds.
Okay, okay, enough whinging, already.
I thought, as it is prime planting season in most parts of the northern hemisphere, I would take this opportunity to climb on my favorite soapbox and write about herb gardens for Weekend Herb Blogging, the event started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen and hosted this week by Rinku of Cooking in Westchester. There will be a recipe or two in here somewhere….
I have a very large herb garden – because I want to and I can. But a lot of my herbs end up on the compost pile.
I have about 10 feet of chives. In rotation, about 3 feet at a time, I cut them back to 4 inches to keep new growth coming. It ends up in the compost. If I had 18 inches (50cm) which would be 3 – 4 'clumps' or plants I could cut them back as I use them; no waste.
As you can see in the photo – my tarragon needs some serious trimming.
When I lived in Minnesota I had a 'Square Foot' Garden – which is the best concept since sliced brioche.
Using that system, based on one 7 foot (2 1/3 meters) square I would suggest planting the following: (one square is 12" x 12" (30 x 30 cm))
Basil, 2 or 3 varieties in 7 square row, 28 plants total (I use a lot of basil)
Chives, 3 – 4 plants in 3 square row
Garlic Chives, 3 – 4 plants in 3 square row
Tarragon, 1 – 2 plants, centered in 2 x 2 square area
Sage, 1 – 2 plants, centered in 2 X 2 square area
Regular Thyme, 2 plants and Lemon Thyme, 1 plant, centered in 2 X 3 square area
Marjoram, 2 – 3 plants in 2 X 2 square area
Oregano, 2 plants in 2 X 2 square area
Parsley, 1 curly, 2 flat in 3 square row
Summer Savory, 3 plants in 2 square row
Plus 2 empty squares for something else!
Down the center is a 1 X 7 square path for easy access.
Oh yes, the mint: Keep it in a pot….. please! It sends out runners that will soon engulf your house, neighborhood, city….
With a garden like this you will always have fresh herbs to add to your cooking: a pinch here; a handful there, without having to pay outrageous prices.
For dinner on Friday I roasted some new potatoes, then tossed them with butter and snipped basil and chives. The asparagus were steamed and finished with truffle oil and garlic chives. Mon mari did the salmon on the smoker, covered in dill (which I had to buy) but it could just be simply:
Grilled Salmon with Tarragon Mayonnaise
2 salmon fillets – 6 – 8 oz each
1 tbs olive oil
2 tbs snipped fresh tarragon
1 tbs lemon juice
1 tbs snipped fresh chives
1 clove minced garlic
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Mix 1 tbs tarragon, lemon, chives, garlic and mayo and set aside. Brush salmon with the oil and sprinkle with remaining 1 tbs fresh tarragon. Cook over barbecue grill 5 – 10 minutes depending on heat of grill (gas will normally be about 10 min) or bake in 400 degree oven for 10 – 15 minutes depending on thickness. Salmon should flake easily with fork when done but it's okay to have it still a bit pink in the center. Transfer to a plate, add tarragon mayonnaise on the side.
Please stop by Cooking in Westchester on Monday for Rinku's recap of all the wonderful herb-y recipes.
I'll be writing about vegetable gardens this week if anyone is curious…..