Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Herb gardens

I have never been much of a gardener, although people seem to think I have that kind of personality.  Gardens are too much work for me, my back is weak after so many babies, it's hot outside, and our family isn't big on vegetables, although we all love fruit.  So although once in a while I'll make weak attempts, it never amounts to much.  I am awfully grateful to the friends I have who will share their garden bounties with me, though!
Even though I don't like vegetable gardens, however, I do LOVE herbs.  This weekend, we took a trip to Central Market, and they had beautiful pots of herbs for sale out front.  I bought a few, including chocolate mint and stevia, a plant whose dried leaves can be used in the place of sugar.  I've been buying that in the store and it's pretty expensive, so I was thrilled to find the plant.
Today, I got up early, and had my housework all done before ten, so I decided to work in my very neglected herb bed.  The swing set is close by, close enough that the little kids played on that rather than "help" me too much, which was nice.  I put on my rubber gloves, got my wheelbarrow and a kiddie chair, and went to work pulling weeds out of the herb bed.  Tommy chatted with me, Angel-Leah ran around the yard and found a big knife, which I had her put up right away (WHEN do they get into these things, and HOW do they get them past me?).  Mary Susannah came out wanting hamburger soup for lunch, so rather than stop what I was doing and make it for her, I gave her directions and she made it herself (it was very good!).  I must have inspired Beau, because he ended up cleaning out the flower bed on the other side of the porch, too.
It wasn't long before I had a wheelbarrow full of grass and weeks, which my rabbits went after with great delight:

The chickens hurried under the cage to catch whatever the rabbits let fall through the cracks.  It helps make wonderful compost!

Another wheelbarrow load later I had the bed cleaned out.  I was so pleased to find a lemon balm 
"volunteer", a plant that sprang up in a new place from an old plant. 
I planted my new herbs - although the chocolate mint will go somewhere else, because mint takes over entire beds where ever you plant it.  Then, much to the little ones delight, I began to spread old newspapers over the ground where I had just pulled weeks.  I got lots of help then, and of course, I had to redo most of it when they got tired and went somewhere else.  Then Luke and I went into the "orchard"  - which is what we like to call it to make ourselves feel good, and got two wheelbarrow loads of old hay.  We spread that over the newspapers, another job the kids thought was pretty fun.  Then into the backyard we went with our wheelbarrow, to the compost pile Beau has been making us.  He gets horse manure from the back pasture and puts it under the tree near the wood pile, right next to the rabbit cage, where the chickens like to hang out.  He dumps it there, and the chickens do the rest.  It's a great idea. 
We loaded up the wheelbarrow, went back to the herb bed, and threw out the compost on top of the hay. 
Dumb chickens think I did all this work entirely for their benefit:

Well, as long as they don't do too much damage, I guess they will just add their droppings to the whole deal, and make the herbs grow big and beautiful.  I hope....

I spent about two hours out there, and I was pretty hot by the time it was done.  So I picked some of the lemon balm I found, and got some peppermint from my mint bed in the back of the  house, and we made tea.  We love mint tea!  Just fill the picture with the sprigs of mint, add Stevia, and pour hot water over it.  Even my two year old loves this:

Well, I feel very pleased with myself after all that work.  Now the afternoon is mine, and I'm going to spend it like an old grandma should, sitting in a rocking chair and crocheting!!

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