Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Plants for the Herb Barrel

On our trip to the local nursery recently we bought two passionflower vines and a few herbs to plant up in our new barrel for the back yard so we have some fresh herbs to cook with. No basil this time, since its later in the season I'll wait until next year to grow it. One of the nursery people at Pierson's a few years ago told me to break off a piece of basil and put it in water and it will root quickly, an easy way to make more plants.

I bought a small chick and hen succulent plant for my half-moon planter on the back deck. Nothing else seems to grow in the little terra cotta pots but I've grown the hen and chicks before in terra cotta and they will do fine in the dry environment. The plant I bought has a main plant and two babies growing from it. I discovered when living in Petaluma you just pluck off the babies and plant them in a pot and they take off and fill the pot with more babies surrounding the outside of the plant. I am hoping the one plant will do the trick for the three pots. I also grabbed a small fuchsia to add to one of my hanging baskets.

The kitchen herb barrel will start off with perennials only: a lemon thyme plant, a greek oregano (the greek oregano looked more robust than the regular oregano), a sage plant and a mint. I have some chives growing in another pot, next season I'll nab some of the seeds and plant them in the herb barrel. We planted up a mint plant in another container and it didn't do well. I know mint can go crazy once established so we'll see if it takes over the barrel or not when planted with the other herbs. Eventually I would like to add a winter savory, good for soups and stews. I grew one of these plants in Petaluma and it grew well and was good for cooking. Next spring I will buy a flat leaf parsley, I had a plant but it finally died off and I didn't grab seeds in time. Flat leaf parsley is great for cooking with for all sorts of dishes. We already have a large rosemary shrub back near the barrel that is well established, and another small potted rosemary that needs to go into the ground. I'd also like to add basil annually, and possibly a few other thyme plants as the barrel fills out. I do have one thyme plant that is growing with the original mint plant, I'll dig that one up and plant it in the barrel as well. Not sure if the original mint plant can be saved, its pretty sparse looking. I have quite a pot of blue lobelia that seeded itself in a pot so there is nothing but lobelia in it, I will plant the lobelia along with the herbs to dress up the barrel. Some nasturtiums may join the barrel eventually, always a nice combo with herbs.

Hopefully there will also be time to fix up the herb barrel to protect the plants. We plan to use some chicken wire to cover the herb barrel in case the raccoons get interested in it, hopefully they won't care about the herbs but you never know. The raccoons do like to get into things so the chickenwire should keep them out of the herbs. Once the plants are established for a season and fill out the barrel there should be no problem pulling off the chicken wire, hopefully the raccoon won't care about the barrel by then.

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