Potting up: Savory, Thyme, Marjoram, Greek Oregano and Anise (and some Hollyhock sowing)

The majority of the herbs I have started up to this point, were getting to the stage of needing more room. I pot them up into newspaper pots that I make from free newspaper. This way, the roots get disturbed as little as possible, because I can just plant the whole pot out in the soil once its safe to do so outside.

I did this March 10, and here is what I potted up:

  • 2x Winter Savory
  • 2x ‘Midget’ Summer Savory
  • 2x Summer Savory
  • 2x Greek Oregano
  • 2x Sweet Marjoram
  • 2x German Winter Thyme
  • 2x Anise

And I had one newspaper pot left over in my tray, so I sowed some ‘Black Watchman’ Hollyhocks. I also sowed some of these last year, so as long as they got through the winter (which they should) I should have some beautiful dark hollyhocks. This sowing would likely not bloom until next year, unless I get lucky. I also have some self-seeded hollyhocks. They were those butter-yellow ones that I had 2 years ago, and I’m interested to see what colour they will be this year.

I have a few more little peat pellets of herbs that aren’t quite ready to be potted up, but are growing nicely. They are growing slowly in the kitchen window, which is perfect for me. I don’t want them to be growing like wild yet because they will still be inside for at least 2 more months, possibly 3, depending on what kind of mood Mother Nature is in.

I’ll be sowing some new herbs very soon, and Tomatoes before the end of the month. Still have no idea where I am going to put everything, but I do this to myself every year, and somehow find a home for it all.

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Butter-Yellow Hollyhocks from a few years ago

 

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Oregano, Thyme and Marjoram (2019)

Over the years I have discovered that I really like growing herbs. They basically take care of themselves, and no matter how busy or overwhelming life gets, there is always some kind of harvest from my neglected herbs. So I recommend even the most beginner gardener grow some herbs. Added bonus, is that even if you leave them to just grow, the bees and other pollinators love their flowers.

I’ve already talked about Savory this year. I’m growing Winter, Summer and ‘Midget’ Summer Savory this year.  So I wanted to mention a few others and why I am growing them.

First off, lets talk Oregano. I’m growing 2 types, or at least I thought I was. I had a pack of “Oregano” seeds from Burpee that I probably got at the grocery store many moons ago, and I just assumed it was Italian Oregano because on the pack it says “Use in Italian Dishes” But then I googled the latin name that is on the pack and apparently it is a Greek Oregano. This is where I get slightly annoyed at the generic names on packs of seeds. I am keeping my eye out for some Mexican Oregano to try next year.

The other oregano I am growing is True Greek Oregano from Renee’s Garden Seeds. I had bought two oregano plants last year, one Greek, one Italian, and there was a pretty big difference in their flavours. I bought the seeds so I could grow it again this year myself.

Why Oregano? It is probably the most used dry herb that we use, so it was a no-brainer to start growing my own instead of buying it all the time. It has also survived winter here a few times, which makes it even more exciting to me. I like things that can take care of themselves.

Next Up: Thyme. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the thyme I have in my garden is going to survive the winter. But I did pick up some German Winter Thyme from Wildrose Heritage Seeds and I am looking forward to growing it and seeing the difference.

Why Thyme? Another well-used herb in our kitchen. I always add it to soups and stews. Its a good idea to think about what you already use regularly when you are thinking of new things to try. Thyme isn’t new to me, but this German Thyme is.

And Lastly, lets talk about the Sweet Marjoram. While its not on my most favourite list (That list is topped by Sage), It is a great addition to Italian seasoning mixes. This seed packet was another old one from Burpee. I just wanted to use up the last of this packet, and will probably pick up some new seed for next year from a seed company that I like a little more.

Why Marjoram? Apart from adding it to my homemade Italian seasoning, I don’t use Sweet Marjoram on its own. So I think I will see how we can incorporate it more into our food. Any suggestions? I’ve read it has a more mild oregano flavour. I’m not new to growing it, but I do want to get better at using it in the kitchen.

 

I’m not sure which herbs I’ll write about next. I will also be sowing Peppers very soon, and then mid March I’ll be starting my tomatoes.

 

Seed Sowing So-far (2019)

Its the middle of a Polar Vortex here… which is just internet-talk for “it’s winter and it’s cold.”

It also means that I (and everyone else too) am itching for it to be spring. So I had to sow some seeds and kind of get my fingers in the dirt. I also wanted to keep up the momentum of actually writing on this little ol’ blog of mine. I’m aiming for 2 posts per week. But I’m warning you that if life starts to get busy and crazy again, this might be the first thing I drop off the priority list.

But enough blabbering.. Here is what I’ve sown so far this year.

In mid- January, I sowed some Red Beard Onions in a red solo cup. I’ll let them grow together in a clump and then plant them out. This is mostly to hedge my bets in the case that the ones I planted last year, don’t make it through this winter (although I have been diligent in making sure my beds have been covered in snow for some insulation from the wind)

At the same time, I also sowed some Silverskin Pickling onions. The seed packet was from 2014, so I figured I would finally try and grow them again. I’m growing them the same as the ‘Red Beard’ onions, but once it comes to planting them out, I will probably separate them (gently) and plant them in some organised fashion, rather than a clump.

I also have a handful of baby trees I’ve started, but that is a whole ‘nother post, that I’ll get to writing eventually.

On January 30th, I finally pulled out my little peat pellet trays, and I sowed some herbs. I still have many herbs to start, but this was a start. Herbs are a good way to quench your thirst of planting something. They will grow pretty slow, so won’t get out of hand when you start them this early. Here is what I filled my 12 pellet tray with on Jan. 30:

  • 2x Greek Oregano
  • 2x German Winter Thyme
  • 2x Sweet Marjoram
  • 2x Summer Savory
  • 2x Midget Summer Savory
  • 2x Winter Savory

On February 6, the above herbs had all sprouted, so I planted some more variety for my herb garden this summer:

  • 2x Oregano
  • 2x Lemon Balm
  • 2x Anise
  • 2x Munstead English Lavendar
  • 2x Heirloom Pineapple Alpine Strawberries
  • 2x Habanero Peppers

The Lavendar and the Strawberries are both some more hedging-bet plants. I grew them later last year, and they are planted out in the garden. I just wanted a little back-up.

The Anise is an old seed packet, and more of a “hey lets try this” rather than something I am really excited about. If it makes it, then it will be fun to try something new. This is a good way to discover new things when you are new to gardening. I’ve found a bunch of new things I like growing by doing this.

The Lemon Balm is one of those things that I’ve found I love by just trying it. I don’t necessarily do anything with the plant, but Its great aroma therapy just to touch the leaves. If you are looking for something easy to grow, this is one of them. It grows easy, with hardly any work and the leaves smell amazing.

Habanero… The Habanero was a bit of a whim. I didn’t have any other herb seeds that I was ready to start yet, and then I found my pepper seeds, and figured I would give the habaneros a go again. Last time I grew them, I did get a few peppers, but I remember wishing I had started them a bit earlier. This will let the plants be a little more mature in the comfort of my warm house before I make them go outside. This is one of the things I am excited to grow again, but also won’t be super sad if they don’t make it.

Next up in my sowing will be the rest of the peppers that I want to grow. This will probably be near the end of the month, and into March. Between Mid March and Mid-April I will be doing tomatoes and near the end of April, I will start any squash or cucumbers. I will also be going through my flower seeds and sowing whatever catches my eye. Likely some more hollyhocks, lavatera, cosmos and maybe some sunflowers.

 

Any suggestions or hints & tips or anything you’d like to share, put it in the comments below

My Etsy Shop: Back 40 Woodcraft

 

Parsley

I grew 2 types of parsley last year. They were both a bit slow to start and I was worried they wouldn’t germinate because the seeds were pretty old. With patience, they slowly emerged and once we got some heat, they really took off. However, I learned that this is typical of Parsley.

Parsley is one of my favourite herbs to grow. They just have such a fresh and refreshing smell. I don’t use a ton of it fresh in the summer (since I usually just try to survive the heat), but I do dry a bunch of it for using in the winter.

The types I grew:

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‘Plain Leaved’ Parsley (Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds… This pack of seeds I bought in 2013)

and…

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‘Champion Moss Curled’ Parsley (McKenzie Seeds… bought in 2014)

 

Typically, I just pull them out at the end of the year and start fresh every spring, BUT, Parsley is a Biennial. If I let these try and make it through the winter, I could probably collect my own fresh parsley seed. Since I have two little clumps of each kind of parsley, I may move one of each to an area that I probably wont dig up next spring, and see how they make it. As I am trying to get more experience in saving my own seed, I am eagerly waiting to see if these survived the winter. Later in February or March I might start some new parsley to keep up my herb-drying-for-winter hobby.

How I dry my parsley: You can just go traditional and hang a bundle of them upside down in a dry spot in your house. I use my dehydrator to hasten the process though. I typically do small harvest from a bunch of my herbs at once and stick them all in the dehydrator. Over the summer, I get a pretty decent harvest of dried herbs to use all winter. Think of this herb-growing-and-drying-situation as a slow and steady wins the race thing. Parsley probably gives me the biggest bang for my buck.

  1. You can snip off almost all the leaves… just make sure to leave some so the poor plant can survive and make the energy to make new leaves.
  2. Give them a good wash (later in the summer, the flat leaf variety tends to get aphids on them… so make sure you clean them all off… or enjoy the added protein on your dried parsley i guess?).
    1. Quick dry off between paper towels and then to the next step.
  3. Spread them out evenly on your dehydrator tray
  4. Turn it on… I usually turn the heat to 130F and leave the default timer of 10 hours on. Some of the herbs will take longer than others. Some will be done before 10 hours, some will take longer, it just depends on the moisture in the leaves, and also a little bit about the weather you have.
  5. Once the leaves are dry and crispy, I put them into a plastic sandwich bag, roll them over with a small rolling pin to break them apart a bit. I pull the stems out, and put the parsley bits into a mason jar with the previously dried bits.
  6. I label the lid of the mason jar with the herb name and the year.

 

Sorry for the lack of new photos on this post. I’ll get back into the groove once things are growing again.

My Etsy Shop: Back 40 Woodcraft

Savory – Winter & Summer – What is the difference?

Over the years, I have become especially fond of growing herbs. Especially herbs that are a little harder to find in stores. Like savory for example.

Savory is one that is a little harder to find in the store. And its not typically differentiated on which one you are buying, its just labelled as ‘Savory’. I have also had a hard time finding “winter savory’ as seed from the big available-in-most-stores, or as started plants from garden centres.

Finally, I found some seeds for Winter Savory. I actually found them from a few different Canadian seed companies, but chose to buy them from “Wildrose Heritage Seed Company” because they are a local Alberta company.

While this will be my first year growing Winter Savoy, I have grown Summer Savory a few years now. I wanted to take this time in the winter while I’m using all my will power to not start my seeds too early, to write down some differences between the two. We can all learn together, and I will try to be on-top of writing here this whole year, and I plan on documenting the differences.

  • Latin Names
    • Winter: “Satureja montana”
    • Summer: “Satureja hortensis”
  • Life Span
    • Winter: Perennial (I’ve read that it is perennial to zone 4, so I’m right on the cusp. It may not survive if we have a really long harsh winter here)
    • Summer: Annual

I can’t speak on the difference in growth or flavour of the different kinds yet, but I really hope to document my experience with them this year. If I’m on the ball, I’ll come back and link to the updates I do get done later this year. For now, all I have photo-wise is the one at the bottom of this post of the seed packets.

Here is the Winter savory I’ll be growing this year. They also sent me a free sample (with the rest of my seed order) of their Midget Summer Savory too, so I’ll be growing that as well. I also still have a pack of old Summer Savory seed from McKenzie seeds, that I bought in 2014. As I was going through my seed collection, I found a new pack of Summer Savory seed from West Coast Seed. I forgot I bought it last year, so that this year I would have some new seed… Thanks past self.

I’ll be starting these in the next few days. By the time the little seedlings need more room for their roots, it should be warm enough outside for them. If you have any experience with the difference between Winter and Summer Savory, share them in the comments below.