Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. I love to use it in a garlic rub on roast pork or chicken, on oven-roasted potatoes, or have it baked in a bread. I also love to touch a fresh sprig of rosemary and smell its scent on my hands afterward, and I love the sight of thick, lush rosemary in flower. I’ve tried to grow a few plants of my own so I can enjoy all of these luxuries and avoid the expense of buying fresh herbs, which are pricey! I’ve had to move the plants around, though, because they haven’t always been happy in their chosen spot. In fact, I’ve lost a couple small ones that I had planted on the side of the house where the soil is hard and the sun is brutal, and they just dried up.
When we put our raised garden bed in last year, I put all of my herbs in one corner of the garden. At that time I transplanted some of the small, unhappy rosemary plants that were in our flower garden to the vegetable garden. For the most part they have gotten comfortable and seem pretty happy there.
A healthy rosemary plant surrounded by its friends,
onion chives, horseradish, and mint.
Rosemary getting established in the raised garden bed. It’s a little sparse on the bottom but is actually reaching over the wood beam. Perhaps some more active pruning would encourage more growth near the bottom.
I want to try to propagate new plants and had read in the Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook that you can grow new rosemary plants by “layering” some of the branches of an existing plant to sprout new roots. Layering will occur naturally, if the plant has room, but you can help the process along by covering the bottom part of a low-lying branch with soil. I did this a couple of months ago with the branch in the bottom right of the photo above. Apparently once it roots you can separate it from the original plant and, viola! Two plants!
Another simple option is to take a decent-sized sprig of rosemary and place it in a jar with water and set it on a window sill. That’s what I did with a few pieces of the fresh-cut rosemary that a friend gave me a few months ago. (I didn’t realize I could do this until I saw a piece of rosemary rooting in a glass of water at a friend’s house and then I read about it again at The Soil Toil blog.) One of the sprigs didn’t root, but the other one went crazy! Here’s a photo of the mass of roots that this one little rosemary twig sprouted.
Over the last year we’ve added topsoil and compost to our house-side flower garden in an attempt to improve the heavy clay soil there. As a result, the plants there are doing much better than they did a year or two ago. So, I decided to try the rosemary there once again, since I’m gradually converting this garden to an herb garden. Hopefully this little guy will get a chance to grow before the catmint plants on either side close in. If they start to choke it out, I’ll move the rosemary again. I plan to eventually pot one so I can keep it in the house for quick access while cooking, so I’ll either take a layered piece from the sprawling garden plant or bring this one back inside. For now, though, it seems to be enjoying its new home.
Posted in Gardening
Tagged DIY, garden, gardening, herb garden, herbs, layering, plants, propagation, rooting, roots, rosemary, The Soil Toil, transplanting, week-by-week vegetable gardener's handbook
Last year I really wanted to start a garden, but I was very inexperienced and even a little intimidated. Despite my beginner status, I dove right in and got through the season with a lot of trial-and-error and a lot of inefficiency. I wanted to do better this year, yet there seemed to be so many things to learn and I didn’t know where to start.
This past winter I was browsing the book section at a local Plow & Hearth and found the Week-by-Week Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook by father and daughter team, Ron and Jennifer Kujawski. It’s exactly the type of gardening book I had been looking for: one that would break a year’s worth of gardening down into small, manageable tasks, telling me what to do and when to do it.
I’m pretty much a beginner gardener and I think this book is great for beginners. The Kujawskis break down the Handbook into weeks before or after the last frost date. So, all you do is find your last frost date and then fill in the dates at the top of the first page in each section of the book. For example, one section says “9 weeks before average date of last frost”. Since my average date of last frost is around April 16, I grab a calendar and count backward 9 weeks from April 16 and put that date (February 13) at the top of the page in the handbook. In that short section, the Kujawskis tell me which seeds to start around February 13 (eggplant, peppers, and some herbs), how to design a crop rotation plan (with a table showing a typical crop rotation plan), and how to be prepared for a dry season (by making a DIY rain barrel out of a garbage can, as well as few other recommendations for prepping the garden). They even provide a list of drought-tolerant vegetables.
If you want a garden but don’t know where to start, or you have some some experience but you want a little guidance on how to improve your gardening practices, consider the Vegetable Gardener’s Handbook! Aside from being a great gardening guide for what-to-do-when, the Handbook has a lot of excellent bits of garden-related information, tips, and tutorials. It’s been my go-to reference so far this year. The authors even encourage you to scribble notes in the margin, take the book with you to the garden, and get dirty (you and the book)! As they put it, “If after the first growing season, this book has no soil smudges or pencil marks, you probably didn’t have enough fun.”
By the way, if you don’t k now your average date of last frost, there are several online sources for finding it. You could do what I did and try the frost date listing at Victory Seeds, or go straight to the National Climatic Data Center for the most comprehensive (and also most confusing) data. (Keep in mind that your last frost date isn’t an absolute; it’s just an average, so you could still experience a frost after your last frost date.)
Posted in Book Recommendations, Gardening
Tagged book reviews, books, crop rotation, DIY, drought, first frost date, garbage can, garden, garden planning, gardening, gardening practices, handbook, how to, information, instructional, kujawski, last frost date, National Climatic Data Center, NCDC, perfectly timed gardening, Plow & Hearth, rain barrel, reference, seed starting, seeds, tips, tutorials, vegetable gardening, vegetables, week-by-week vegetable gardener's handbook