Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Returning Friends

"Make new friends, but keep the old: one is silver, and the other's gold." I sang this countless times around Girl Scout campfires, and today it's reminding me of our herbs. We grow them right outside the front door where the light is bright and I'm most likely to remember to water them. ;-)

Every year we start parsley (for us and the Eastern black swallowtail caterpillars) and basil (for tomato salad and pesto) from seed. But before either is even planted, I have the excitement of welcoming my "gold" friends back.

Chives have a mild onion-garlic flavor that makes them a great sprinkle on potatoes or in pasta/rice/pilaf type side dishes, or with eggs. I just snip a handful, rinse, then snip or chop. They're so reliable and prolific that I've downsized from 4 clumps to 2, and last year was still able to divide and give some away to other gardeners. Here in Virginia they grow from spring through fall. Chive blossoms look like purple pom-poms, and last a long time in a vase; I'll try to remember to post a picture when they appear. We have peppermint and spearmint growing in separate corners. I hear tales of mint taking over gardens, but ours is enclosed by the house and sidewalk, so it has not been hard to control. I am actually not a huge mint fan, but we do like it in iced tea, and it's fun to casually munch on the leaves. Last year Len bought me three different types of thyme, and I am so pleased to see some of them back this year! I didn't know they are perennials. I really enjoyed using thyme last summer, mostly with chicken. I also made a pasta side dish with a mix of fresh basil, parsley, chives, and thyme. Yum!
I very much enjoy the flowers of spring, but these returning bits of green bring me a different (quieter?) joy. I am so happy to have them back.

P.S. Sue B. at Attaining Virtue is hosting the Loveliness of Spring Fair--Flowerpots.

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