Friday, September 14, 2012

Herb Teacup

My friend and I talk about all of our gardening (and bargain) adventures, and one night she brought me an adorable teacup planter (picture below). I love coffee (and tea) and plants! It couldn't be any more perfect. When I was trying to figure out what to do with it, I had a (self-proclaimed) brilliant idea! Wouldn't it be adorable if it were filled with culinary herbs, since it looks like it should be in my kitchen!? I'm glad you agree.

So I looked through my seed inventory and started curled parsley, oregano, purple basil, sweet basil, and lemon balm. I'd never heard of lemon balm before, but it's supposed to make a delicious tea so I was naturally intrigued.

Here you can only see the basil sprouts (second row from the bottom). The zucchini and lettuce went on to more exciting (and deadly for them) adventures. See the little master grid on the top? I had to keep track of all the seedlings!

I also had a giant rosemary plant outside of my front door, and I wanted to incorporate that into my herb teapot too. However, I was worried that water-loving plants (basil, and parsley to some extent) wouldn't be the best roommates for the dryer-soil plants (rosemary, lemon balm, oregano). What I decided to do was set up a mini clay pot inside of the big teacup pot. This way, the water could presumably be added more frequently to the outer pot without overwatering the inner pot. I decided to put lemon balm in the center only because only one young seedling looked viable, and I really want some tea with it! Then I prepared the pot and transplanted some rosemary. Aside on the rosemary: I took about 5 or 6 cuttings from the original shrub (GIANT plant outside my door, not kidding it's bigger than I am) and I put them in water on a sunny windowsill. I wanted roots to form on the cuttings before I put them in soil. The "rooting rate", haha, was about 50%, however, I discovered that if I left the new roots in the glass for too long they began to rot, and the plant often died. But it's easier than you think - you just cut off a branch of the rosemary, put it in water for a few weeks, and then you have a great rosemary start. I read that rosemary doesn't do well from seed, and it was a great way to get medium-sized plants fairly easy.

Here's the teacup pot with a mini clay pot, and the rosemary start. See how sad it was to be transplanted? It shed quite a few needles before it adjusted.

Anyway, I realized I forgot to take pictures of the very small seedlings in the pot, but I took a picture about a month after the transplant, and a more recent picture. I have more herbs than I know what to do with - so I've made pesto and been using quite a bit in every recipe. I cut up parsley, basil, and oregano for a veggie dip, and the fresh herbs were really flavorful, I think I'll do that again. When it starts to get too cold, I think I'll cut back the basil and freeze it, and let the hardier plants overwinter inside.
(Left) One month after planting. Rosemary has completely taken over the pot, even after I've trimmed it. Sweet basil flourishing, purple basil trying to keep up but not going as great. Oregano growing slowly but steadily on the sides, and lemon balm in the middle with a slow start. (Right): Update from early September: rosemary and basil continue to pull ahead, but the parsley is refreshingly useful in many recipes, I'll have to continue to plant some every year. Lemon balm (in the center pot) with ~10 leaves, I can't wait until I get some tea out of it!

Who knew such wonderful things could come out of a teacup?


Sophia said...

Wow, the basil really went nuts! This is so cute though, I'm so glad you decided to plant herbs in the teacup! Also, I have no idea how to subscribe to your blog to my reader. Am I dumb?

Carolyn Valdez said...

Nope it's tricky, I added a "subscribe to" button the left that'll send it to google reader or a few other kinds :D :D

Kathryn said...

I'm so jealous of all your beautiful plants. I may have to fly our there and steal some. :)