Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I Believe in Basil





I believe anyone can grow basil. Dirt, seeds, water and sun are all you need. I start mine on a damp piece of paper towel, sprinkled with seeds and covered with plastic wrap and left on the kitchen counter. They swell and turn gooey and sprout in just a few days. They are much easier to find and move to the soil at that point. I use a toothpick to pick them off the paper towel and place onto the damp soil.

One cannot have too many basil plants and successive plantings is a good idea. This herb makes even grocery store tomatoes edible. A chunk of fresh mozzarella, a large leaf of basil, a slice of tomato and a dribble of evoo, salt and pepper is a feast.



I believe in Hardy Geraniums






Hardy Geraniums (perennial) or Cranesbill are a must in my garden plans. Their leaves are lovely even without their flowers and practically evergreen. They grown in sun or shade, in damp or drought, and have a multitude of different color combinations. One of them Johnson's Blue, above, is tall and an early bloomer. But they come in pinks, white and multi combos. They spread easily from seed, and can fill a space quickly, or can be ripped up with vigor and dumped in another spot and seem right at home. They filled up the front of my old garden in one season, where nothing else ever seemed to flourish.



I believe in French Intensive Gardening



I had my friend Meredyth build these 5x5' frames from 2x12" boards while I was away teaching, years ago. We then filled them with compost, top soil, rotted manure, or whatever was on sale that week at the grocery store garden shop. I always planted way too many plants in them, but it never seemed to matter. They thrived. Weeds didn't have a chance. We mixed annuals and perennials in these boxes and had both shade and sun plants.



Because the sides were raised, I could sit on them and reach across at least half way to plant something. And the height also allowed the soil to warm up faster in the Spring, making it easy to get a jump start on planting.


It isn't a good idea to plant veggies in a box like this IF your wood is treated, which these were. The preservative usually has toxic chemicals which leach out into the plants. Not harmful to the plants but not good for you.

I believe in Hostas




But then you know that if you have read this blog in the summertime. Here we have a gigantic hosta surrounded by hardy geraniums. Both love the shade. Hostas romanced me in my first home as nothing else would grow under our maple tree. We had nine varieties there. I thought that was a lot at the time, but O My! how many there are available now. Whole Hosta Societies are out there making everything from teeny to enormous, in all sorts of combinations of white, yellow and green.



One cannot kill a Hosta. And dividing them is like slicing an apple in half. I had to take this one with me from my old garden and we cut it up into several clumps, leaving the dried flower stalks as markers and planted them in our new yard. I look at the stalks daily to see if the new crowns are up yet. They will make this yard HOME.





Lupines...I must get some seeds.

16 comments:

  1. Having seen up close what your old garden looked like, I can't wait to see how your new one grows and blossoms into something even more beautiful. Now you have a water element... how fun will that be?

    ReplyDelete
  2. not too far from me there is a nursery that specializes in just Hostas. Going there in late spring is a perfect walk on a lovely day. I had no idea there were so many kinds and colors and even sizes. My friend Terry and I exchange cut up hostas now and then. I love the way they are always fat and happy looking in the yard.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It looks so yummy.
    I have tagged you.
    Love

    ReplyDelete
  4. Your gardening comments are so timely! We just bought a house in Lakesitse and the yard is a blank canvas--apparently the previous owners (of over 20 years) had no interest in landscaping or gardening. What fun! We can't wait to get our hands dirty!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ah, a taste of spring, as we got one more coating of white last night. I can't wait for the hostas to come up. It will be fun to see what you do with your new place.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Anonymous10:22 AM

    Now I have the desire to grow my own basil. The Hostas, I got from you. Didn't have them in my yard before and didn't even notice them before, maybe because the flowering is not exhuberant. I've even been brave enough and divided my first lot after 2yrs of standing.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anonymous11:00 AM

    How to Kill a Hosta:

    Mine started to smell, first just "funny", and then god-awful. They became slimy at the base, then the leaves started just sliding out of the sliminess. And did I mention the smell??? Eeew!!! Turned out that Norman, my batting-eating pooch, was peeing on them on his lunch break.

    Fortunately for him, he's toooo cute to stay mad at!
    Barb

    ReplyDelete
  8. it's incredibly easy to kill a Hosta. Plant it in TX. Shade, of course, but still they don't seem to like 100 even in the shade. Too bad!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the inspiration for the raised beds. I'm thinking some heirloom tomatoes, basil, and maybe some yummy yellow bell peppers for me this year.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I beleive in Hosta's too - but yours obviously don't believe in snails -they look sooooo healthy!

    ReplyDelete
  11. That was fun--I feel like I just had a visit to your old house and garden!
    Come on Spring!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hostas do get killed in my garden (in the UK) - the slugs eat them up in no time! Same with basil (I grow mine on an indoor windowledge).

    But luckily slugs don't like cranesbill!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Anonymous4:35 PM

    Something up here in SW Virginia ate our hostas!

    We dug up a large number (30 or 40) from a friend's yard when he had a large quantity that needed dividing and invited the church members to come "help ourselves" - beautiful plants and many, many varieties. Planted them in the shade in our back yard, similar environment to their home garden. They came up, looking great, and then one by one just wilted.

    Gentle digging around the base of each start revealed a tunnel into the root area and nibbling. By the time we figured out the roots were being eaten, it was too late.

    Never did figure out what it was. Maybe chipmunks or moles - something that tunneled, anyway.

    Jean Marie

    ReplyDelete
  14. The only animals that love hostas and cranebills more than me are the deer. I brought about 10 varieties of hostas to my new house (in the city near a woods) and they all were reduced to stubs in one night. It's a challenge.

    ReplyDelete
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