This time of year, you’ll see me with my stack of seed catalogs, but not far away is my stack of cookbooks and magazines for inspiration.
The reason I planted an herb garden a few years ago is that for years I had seen so many recipes in cookbooks and magazines that called for fresh herbs. And I wanted to make them! But fresh herbs cost a mint (pun intended) at the grocery store, and truth be told they really aren’t “fresh” inside those little plastic clamshell boxes anyway.
Grocery store herbs are reminiscent of fresh herbs, but lack the intense smell and flavor of freshly harvested herbs.
Because I love food–and because I love the people for whom I cook food–I had to grow my own herbs. I couldn’t go wasting money on mediocre (at best) grocery store herbs and I HAD to make those great recipes I was reading and collecting.
Now I like to go back and page through my cookbooks or magazines and think about what we’d like to try in the coming year. I see a great looking beet salad and I make a mental note to choose beet seeds that will be perfect for that. Eggplant recipes have inspired me to grow a few different varieties. When thinking about what to plant, it helps to think about what I will cook.
Last year I added tarragon to my herb bed. How have I lived without tarragon my whole life? I was inspired by recipes to add this and now I cannot imagine summer grilling without it.
So I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes this growing season and in preparation I’m going to be ordering the needed seeds. I think of it as planning for dinner six months in advance. Might seem a bit extreme to some, but to me it’s much less extreme than my herbs and veggies traveling thousands of miles to end up on my dinner plate.
A little advance garden planning makes it easy to throw together delicious meals during the growing season, such as this grilled chicken marinated in herb mayonnaise with fresh herbs.
If you’ve been following my lemon tree saga, you may be wondering how the tree is doing now.
After bringing the tree indoors around Halloween I haven’t done much with it. It sits next to our South facing glass doors and on sunny days it can soak in whatever rays penetrate our energy-saving glass.
Around early December I noticed it was developing the tell-tale bumps that would later become blossoms. By Christmas, dozens of tightly closed blossoms graced the lemon tree. This week, many of them are opening up and I am thoroughly enjoying their citrus-y perfume.
Now that they are open, it’s my job to take nature’s place and pollinate the tree. I do this with a tiny paintbrush, simply dabbing the centers of the blooms gently. I try to do all the open blooms once and then come around and hit them again with the pollen from the other blooms hopefully being distributed. Does this really work?
Honestly, I don’t think it did last year. But time will tell. And short of keeping bees in my house, this is pretty much the only way to do this. Now I will sit back and wait to see if the tree holds onto any of these blossoms and whether or not any of them will produce an actual lemon. Already, some have fallen off as they have in years past.
I will hold out hope for a different ending to the 2012 lemon tree story. And if it’s not to be, then I’ll just be glad for the special scent of these January blossoms and the bit of sunshine they bring to my winter world.
Previous lemon tree entries include:
When life hands you one lemon…
Repotting the Lemon Tree
Lemon Tree Update