becoming gourmet

a light hearted chronicle of my culinary ideas and adventures

Out of Hibernation!


Hello Becoming Gourmet fans!  I am back at blogging after hibernating for several months!  I’ve had some health challenges, been busy at work, yada, yada,  … no matter.  I’m back, and I’m getting ready for months of seasonal cooking with the freshest ingredients I could possibly find… herbs and veggies from my own yard.  With an unusually mild winter here in Northern California, I’ve been able to start my spring clean up a bit early and prepare for the growing months ahead.   I’m loving it.

A little history first.  A couple years ago, I decided to convert my small sloping ‘front yard’ into an herb garden.  My house is built at the base of a foothill so I’ve got nothing but ‘slanty’ to work with.  The prior owners had selected rosemary and some stinky deer-proof ground cover to fill the space.  All those years later, both had become an overgrown, gnarly mess.  I hired a landscape designer to come over, hear my ideas for the space, and pull together a design for me.   It was a little pricey, but she thought of things that I wouldn’t have considered if I had done it myself since I was a bit green when it came to gardening (and not the good ‘green’).  Here are the best of the tips …

First, as she planned my garden, she interleaved  ‘evergreen’ plants, including some non-edibles, throughout the garden so that no portion of it would die off completely at any given time of the year.  Even though I asked for an all edible garden, we put Gazanias in little pockets around the garden so there would be green year round.  A bonus was the colorful flowers they’d add to my mostly green color scheme.  She also suggested I plant some extra helpings of herbs that would stay green all year.  The picture below is of my biggest chive plant as of today.  As you can see, it pulled through the winter very well.  After getting a bit scraggly in December and January, I gave it a big haircut two weeks ago, and it’s come back strong.  As another bonus, I have not had to fork out any more money since the first year for this perennial!

Next, she gave more care to some of the environmental conditions than I would have – like the sun :).  I have three large birches in the front area which means I have half a garden of full sun and half being partial shade.  The Gazanias in full sun have flowered and spread much more readily than those I snuck under the birches.  My cilantro, thyme, oregano, parsley (ill-fated, see below), and sorrel (ill-fated as well) enjoy the gentler heat they find under the canopy of the birch, while my chives and basil fair better in full sun.  Here’s a shady view of my English Thyme, with an Oregano plant in the back right.  This picture was taken today – as you can see, they also represent Tip #1 very well (evergreen).

Finally, she gave me some tips for working around my garden’s natural predator – DEER.  Sure the deer prancing about on the hills are a joy to look at, but when they take a toothy saw to my freshly planted sorrel, basil, and parsley plants, Bambi is no longer my BFF.  Herbs tend to fair a bit better than other flowers since deer don’t typically like their ‘stink’.  I’ve never had them nibble on rosemary, chives, sage, oregano, or thyme.  For the first year, my basil and parsley plants were untouched, but in year two I learned painful deer lesson #2 – deer sometimes eat half your plant before they remember they don’t like it.  Sigh.   Another thing I’ve learned is that lettuces and sorrel are an irresistible salad bar that deer go back for seconds and thirds on.  This year, I’ve doubled down on the ‘onion-y’ smells, and I added green onions and leeks to the mix.  I think they’ll be safe!  Here’s a picture of some leek babies I poked into the ground along a currently unused piece of sprinkler line.  I’m so excited to watch them grow (squint to see the little green stalks for now)!!

Well, as you can see, I’ve been hard at work prepping for my spring and summer feasting!  If you don’t have an herb garden, I encourage you to plant SOMETHING, even if only a little chive plant on your window sill.  Your eggs and salads will never be the same 😛

posted under Foodie Chatter

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