Herb Pot–Best Thing I Ever Did

Herbal border

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.

Rosemary Potatoes

Ingredients:
As many potatoes as you want to eat
Fresh rosemary
Course salt
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.

Herb Pot

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?

Wheel

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,
Kathryn xoxo

20 Responses to “Herb Pot–Best Thing I Ever Did”

  1. I love the botanical print at the top of your post…did you create it?

  2. Hi, Jean Ann. Welcome. Only partially. I love these old images as well.

  3. Hi Kathryn,
    Your herb blog is making me want to do the same. On my return, I will put the herbs in pots. Love the idea. Have enough space. Being German, I used to cook with many a herb. Sometimes 6 or even 9. Making sauces and dips and relying rather on their unique flavors than spicy foods.

  4. Hi, dear Conny! Welcome to my blog! I must learn more of that from you. Looking forward to (more) time in your beautiful kitchen…Love, Kathryn xoxo

  5. Hi Kathryn,
    I have just tried the rosemary potatoes this evening – delicious. Thank you for the recipe!

  6. Elke: Awwww. How precious is that to think someone in the UK made the rosemary potatoes I learned about in Arizona? LOL! So glad you tried and were pleased! And welcome! Kathryn xoxo

  7. Your herb pot is great! I love herbs. Most of the gardens I start are herb gardens or at least have some herbs in them. I don’t know if this is already on your shelf but I found the book “The Herbal Epicure” by Carole Ottesen to be real inspiring in terms of cooking with herbs. The book has all kinds of neat recipes as a well as general information about the herbs.

    Have fun with your herbs! 🙂

  8. Hi, June! Thank you for visiting. I will have to check out that book. I do need more guidance in expanding my herb repertoire. I know quite a bit about herbs as medicines but not as much about herbs for cooking, though I learn new ones every year. Open to learning!
    Thank you! Kathryn

  9. I enjoy my herb garden. Mine isn’t in a nice big pot, but in a strip along the fence by my back door. I love the thyme and use it often. I grow rosemary in a garden window all year long and enjoy rosemary potatoes -as does my whole family. That is a great recipe to share!

  10. Hi, Susan! See, I think that proximity thing is important. It must be a very very old tradition–the Kitchen Garden, and we are tapping into that old archetype. It’s very nurturing. Glad you enjoy the rosemary potatoes! Love, Kathryn

  11. A very timely posting for me. I was just seeking places to buy herbs for my new herb garden. Would you please tell me where you buy yours?

  12. My dear Kathryn … I can’t imagine anyone living without herbs close at hand, if only to smell. Ah … but in the kitchen … the simplest dish becomes a song (parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme). Have you tried an omelet with fresh chive blossoms? Or a fresh salad sprinkled with violets and pansies? My dream is for everyone to have a simple herb garden as you described in this post. Thank you, dear soul sister, for spreading the word!

  13. Welcome, Melissa. I see you are in New England. (Nice blog, btw.) I would wager that most of these particular herbs came from the nursery at Home Depot. I’m in Northern CA. When I was in AZ I also bought plants at Home Depot. I was fond of that particular nursery in Cave Creek. Sometimes I buy herbs from small local nurseries, too. I like the idea of supporting local folks. Actually my arugula came from some small starter plants I bought from a German organic local farmer at the Farmer’s Market. My preference would be to buy as many herbs from the Farmer’s Market as possible, but I can’t always find the selection I need, or I need them earlier than the market season begins. All the arugula now is self seeding. Want some seeds?? Thanks for visiting. Kathryn

  14. Hi, dear Joey! No, I am a virgin to the beauties of chive blossoms in my omelet! And I am dying to try nasturium in my salad and need someone to go first. All my baby nasturtiums are up and I will be swimming in them soon! As for the violets and pansies, oh my! Do tell! What do I do? Sign me up! You will guide the way, no doubt. Maybe a post on The Village Voice on flowers in our salads is in order? Fondly, Kathryn

  15. I Love this post!
    How inspiring! I shall plant herbs after my move!
    Thank you, Kathryn!

  16. Hi, Antonia! You are so welcome! Can’t wait to hear about your new herb pot! Love, Me

  17. I have been a big fan of growing herbs for nearly twenty years. I so love the fact that garden pests/bugs don’t like them! I love the textures, the aromatic smells, the pungency of lemon verbena and pineapple sage. They have become dear friends that never disappoint.
    Brenda

  18. Good for you, Brenda! Pineapple sage sounds wonderful! I will explore! I love that: “dear friends that never disappoint.” Imagine how long women have been using these gifts! Kathryn

  19. I love herbs, I have them all around my garden . You should try baking those potatoes without pealing them (Just cut them in squares) and with some crushed garlic cloves added to them. They taste divine! Its everyones favourite at my house.

  20. Hola, Gintoino! Bienvenidos. This is the second time I’ve been told to add garlic to the potatoes. Cherry in Savannah told me to do this, too. She apparently adds chopped chives at the end, also. OK! Done! I will try this next time! Gracias! Kathryn

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