Posted by: A Part of the Solution | May 3, 2012

Herb Garden Layout, Part 5

The plants of Mars will occupy the outermost two rings of the labyrinth herb garden. The plants of the Sun will occupy the next two rings of the herb garden. The next two rings of the herb garden layout will be planted to Venus.

Venus’ herbs, like the archetype of the goddess herself, are easy going. These plants don’t mind partial sun. These plants don’t have fussy needs. In fact, these plants are not only perennial, many of them are nearly weeds and have a tendency to acquire growing real estate with tenacity. Like Venus as well, these herbs have pleasing scents and flavors which culinary traditions the world over recognize as desirable additions to the batterie de cuisine: lemon balm, lemon grass, sorrel, mint, thyme. Naturally, Venus also rules many edible flowers–and those I have already or will plant in a culinary flower garden. Violets, roses, and rose geraniums are well represented on the home acres. In addition, the violets grow abundantly everywhere on the farm in a range of colors and petal styles.

In the mint family, only spear- and pepper- will grow true from seeds. So I’m planting spearmint and peppermint. Over time, I’ll obtain cuttings from better established herb gardens to branch out into orange mint, pineapple mint and apple mint. The mints will receive the poorest soil and light on the two rings I have set aside for Venus’ plants. These guys have imperialistic tendencies and grow with invasive vigor.  Lemon balm is almost as hardy and as reproductively forward as her cousins the mints. She’s great in teas, or anything you’d like to have a minty-lemony flavor. In addition, she’s citrusy because of her naturally occurring citronella oils. This herb may be rubbed directly on the skin as a bug repellent, or added to soaps, candles and oils for the same purpose.

Lemon grass is perennial in tropical locations. As far north as we are, and it’s not really all that far, our lemon grass will have to be an annual. Not only does it have citronellols in common with lemon balm, but it’s range of uses is equally broad and easily as appealing. Lemon grass is most common in Asian cuisines, but these days chefs will showcase it in any fusion food situation where the lemon grass can bring out the best in its food vehicle. Oh yes! Sorrel , or curly dock, is another lemon-y flavored (or sour anyway) herb from the Venusian stable. It has a great tangy flavor, and adds a sturdy green color wherever it’s used. There are cautions about eating too much sorrel raw  as it contains high levels of oxalic acid. Of course, so does spinach–and that doesn’t seem to stop anybody!

Thyme is that herb in the garden which plays well with others to an astonishing degree. The wild thyme is best with strong flavors like lamb and tomato, but thyme itself is included in one herb blend after another: za’atar, herbes de provence, bouquet garni, curry and more. Lemon thyme and Mother of Thyme will also grace the herb labyrinth. With any luck, I’ll be able to establish one of the tinier creeping thymes among the paving stones in the labyrinth. In full sun, the scent will be close to overwhelming–as will be the buzzing of the bees.


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