Saturday, June 13, 2009

My Culinary Deck - The Beginning

Last year I grew a wide assortment of herbs - aside from extra basil and parsley in the vegetable garden - in pots on my deck. While my kitchen doesn't connect directly to the deck, it's definitely close enough to run out and grab a handful of basil or a sprig or two of rosemary in the midst of cooking.

Let's see, last year I grew parsley, chives, garlic chives (didn't do so well), mint, rosemary, sage, marjoram, cilantro (did great as soon as I gave up on it and ignored it), thyme, basil, oregano and some peppers - jalapenos, chili peppers and hot cherry peppers.

This year, I'm off to a bit of a slow start but there's still time...

First, we did a couple big pots of annuals to go on either side of our front entrance.

Problem is, I like seeing that gorgeous cobalt blue lobelia and those pink double impatiens so much that so far they've remained on the deck where I spend more time. We've had quite a rainy spell lately, so everything is waterlogged. I need to go whack those impatiens a few times to get the wilted petals off, making room for some new ones - the color is really pretty and they look like little rosebuds.

I never had luck with basil until last year. I threw a packet of seeds in this window-box planter and left it on our outdoor table (which we never use for eating, because I use it mainly as a potting bench). This was last year's crop...


This is how far we've gotten so far...

This time I put two rows of basil the entire length of the planter. It freezes BEAUTIFULLY. Last year's crop lasted me until maybe February? I chop it, pack it into ice cube trays, add a smidge of water and freeze. When the cubes are frozen, I pop 'em out and seal in a plastic Ziploc bag. Each "cube" is about a tablespoon, although if you're like me you rarely measure herbs!

My only issue is, I expect I'm supposed to thin them out somewhat, but I've always had a toughtime deciding who lives and who dies, so I might just let them duke it out.
Sharing a cozy little flowerpot with my friend, Rosemary (who has a twin sister also named Rosemary who lives next door with the Thyme twins) is my one-time nemesis, Cilantro.

Me and Cilantro got off on the wrong foot a few years back, when I made a Black Bean and Orzo salad and went a little too heavy with it. I hated it! Then a few years later I started to acquire a taste for it, tried to grow some, and it hated me right back. This year, we've hopefully put all that in the past...and if all goes well, maybe I'll resurrect that recipe!

Now onto Greece, which I now want to visit, I have some Greek Oregano where the Marjoram once grew...M might be coming back, so they'll be neighbors.

Now onto those boisterous Thyme sisters...

Lemon Thyme is the one with the flowers - she got a haircut shortly after this picture was snapped. I have a large patch of Lemon Thyme and Common Thyme in my front yard - I plopped a couple small plants on the hill, just to get them in the ground one hot summer, and they've been there ever since. Because my husband tends to use fertilizers and other yucky stuff in the front yard I never harvest that for cooking, but I love to squeeze a handful and smell that wonderful lemony-thymey smell. This year I opted for some in pots so I could actually use them. I'm thinking "tea" this summer, and I also saw a recipe somewhere for thyme cookies...lemon thyme might work, too!

Finally, I'm recycling/reviving some chives I found growing in a pot this spring. I put them in the top of a strawberry pot with some coleus in the side pockets for some color.

Oh, that other pot was some sort of heirloom carrot. This is was happened to them...

It's called "Martha" and it is very, very destructive!

But cute...

We'll visit the vegetable patch soon! Thanks for stopping by!


5thsister said...

I've yet to master cilantro myself. Got it going this year only to find it "flowering". I guess I'll just ignore it! Your herb garden looks great and I'm loving those planters of flowers!

Willoughby said...

Your plants look great! I love the color combo in the pots. Lobelia is one of my favorites, too.

If you like the idea of making a tea, or adding herbs to tea, you should try lemon balm. I planted some tiny plants from the nursery last year and they are HUGE this year. I grab a leaf and rub it for the smell every time I walk by them!

Chicago Mom said...

I was thinking of lemon balm too and then I read Willoughby's comment; it really is a great herb. I had problems getting it to grow from seed, but once I did - watch out! That plant is huge now!
I am not a fan of cilantro either, I just substitute it with parsley in my cooking.
Did Martha get anything for her efforts? lol

Gracey said...

Your herbs look amazing. The photo with the colourful flowers was my favourite one.

Of course I loved the one with Martha, too.

Lissaloo said...

What a great assortment! Your basil is looking wonderful!