While I had over the years experimented with various herbs in my garden it took having dinner with Bill Greaves, book artist extraordinaire, and his wonderful wife, Amy, in Cave Creek, Arizona to change my views on growing herbs by stepping up my knowledge and commitment to doing it right. Amy took growing herbs very seriously. In fact, when they first moved to the desert from Hawaii, it was the very first garden project she undertook–get in her herbs. Shortly after I arrived she took me out onto an outer patio that ran across the back of their lovely desert home, and sure enough, she had pots and pots of herbs–all handy to the kitchen. I think this proximity to the house was one of the things that really impressed me. As if the visual were not enough to bring this point home, Amy served these potatoes with dinner, which, if you are handy in the kitchen perhaps you’ve tried, but just in case, I offer her very simple recipe here, as they are now a favorite and delicious.
As many potatoes as you want to eat
Extra virgin olive oil
What you do:
Peel the potatoes and cut them as if you were making big french fries.
Place the potatoes in a large pyrex baking dish.
Pour olive oil over them.
Chop the leaves of a couple of fresh cut sprigs of rosemary. Sprinkle over potatoes.
Sprinkle all with a bit of course salt, to taste.
Toss lightly with a spatula or large metal spoon.
Bake at 350 degrees for an hour, peeking in and rearranging the potatoes once or twice within that hour to assure even browning.
Remove and enjoy! You will now make these a hundred times and people will love you for it.
Note Amy made us this same recipe during Thanksgiving, using parsnips and those were scrumptious.
So when I moved back up to Mendocino, I straightaway put in a rosemary, which is now very large. But it took finding a very large clay pot at Home Depot to really establish my herb garden and I highly recommend this idea–put the majority of your herbs in one big pot, as near as possible to your kitchen.
Here is mine.
Don’t you just love it? I do! It’s one of my very favorite things. Mind you, it is only two or three steps from the back patio, in the frontmost corner of my vegetable garden. So, very handy, and this makes all the difference, I do believe.
Starting at midnight, and moving clockwise, if you look closely you will find a new addition, which is sage. You have to look closely, or you will think the little sage is part of that next largest group, the Greek oregano. The oregano is now getting so big it’s creeping out onto the other side of the next herb, the curled parsley. Both survived winter perfectly fine, freezing temps at all, to my great surprise and delight. Maybe that would not be true where you live. We had only one brief snowfall.
Between 9:00 o’clock and 10:00 you will see my reliable thyme, now two years old. And the little yellow/green one is lemon thyme, which my dearest friend Conny just gifted to me as part of a larger assorted birthday pot, from which I transplanted it in with these guys, and then we are back to the teeny new sage. I’ve given the sage and lemon thyme room to fill out, as you can see.
Last year I had cilantro in here, but it did not get employed quite as much, so I’ve eliminated. Also I tried a Thai plant which so eluded me I can’t even remember what it was for. So there’s some experimentation going on here, but these are probably the staples now, as I will use each and every one. I cannot begin to tell you how much I appreciate that these herbs, which tend to be smaller and more vulnerable to, say, wild doggies herding balls, are now up off the ground and protected and together. There is something just right about their being together. Maybe it’s an extension of a Place for Everything and Everything in Its Place. But I think it goes beyond that. I’m just going to say it feels Right, and I do recommend it. The pot itself was a bit pricey, and it’s quite heavy, but it truly is one of my most treasured things right now, a kind of institution in and of itself, and I’m so glad I made the investment.
Now, to underscore the protection of this lovely group of herbs, which grace my cooking immeasureably, and upon which I so rely, I have added something new this year, done especially for a certain Mr. Conner B.C. This new addition I believe spells out in very explicit terms: No Balls in My Herb Pot, a phrase he heard, oh, about a hundred times, as it is always his habit to put a ball, upon which he has been chewing incessantly, into whatever container is most convenient, as I garden, in hopes I will pick it up and throw it. No savory among the savories. You know? So here’s what he now encounters. I think it does the job, don’t you?
In case you are curious, that is my arugula in the background, gone to seed for the second time this spring already, and due for a major cropping, any day now. I’m finding it so difficult as those white blossoms in the moonlight are as unexpectedly a magical place as you would want to be.
Love and spring blessings,
Posted on April 9th, 2008 by Kathryn
Filed under: Plants