February 26, 2005

Winter Detritus and Herbs of Spring

I've ventured out onto the verandah and surveyed the damage done to my herbs over this particularly harsh winter. The sage is done-for, but that would have happened anyway as the plant was on its last legs of indifference and neglect. I harvested seeds from the last time it bloomed, and plan to plant them this spring.

The chive pot is broken. My beautiful cobalt "strawberry pot" which houses the chives and has survived the predations of the cat, has been split vertically into three chunks. The roots of the chives, valient little herbs, are holding the pot more-or-less together, but the shattered pottery is obvious. The chives themselves seem unconcerned with anything other than shooting this year's crop of green spears upward into the light, unphased by the state of their container.

The rosemary, however, is fine. Little twiglet buds are swelling on the branches, and it seems happy enough. Ditto the oregano, which has spread to take over a fallow container and thereby tripled its size. Fierce stuff, this Cretan oregano.

I always plant basil in the spring, because I'm fond of it for everything from pasta to salads to sandwiches. So, thus far I am scheduled to plant basil and sage. I've been doing a lot more of both French and Caribbean cooking lately, so I think I might plant some thyme as well. I had a pot of thyme years ago, but almost never used it. Now, it seems that every other recipe I pick up calls for a few springs of fresh thyme. I'm always a little cautious using dried thyme in recipes because I think it always tastes old and dusty - like the "barbeque" sauce at Swiss Chalet. Fresh thyme doesn't have that quality about it, and therefore can be used with greater abandon

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