Green Thumb

In the past few days I have observed the following types of weather: raining so hard it floods, warm enough to walk about in a T-shirt, grey and windy, sunny, but effin’ freezing. Ah, spring in the Midwest, she is a fickle lass.

But I’ve gotten a taste of warm weather, and my thoughts have turned to gardening.

Gardening is one of those things that I feel like I should enjoy more than I do. I have spent the past year trying to coax various flowers and foodstuffs from out of the ground, and I never really found it all that fun.

This year I thought about foregoing the whole mess, and letting the dandelions run reign over the backyard. That’s still pretty much my plan, but I’ve decided that I cannot go the whole season without giving some herbs a try. Here are my favorite fresh herbs:

Rosemary
I love rosemary. It is hardy and takes my less-than-green thumb’s punishment with silent good grace. Until last fall when I kind of, sort of, um….forgot about it. Outside. In the cold. So now I’m going to be replanting.

Rosemary is great with chicken and pork. I use it in chicken soup, pot pie, chicken dumplings. Pretty much anything in the house that can be made in a stock pot or crock pot gets a good dose. Rosemary is said to be good to help with colds, which is why it is one of the star herbs in my chicken soup.

Sage
I have read that it is bad luck to plant sage in your own garden, but it’s always worked out well for me. Sage hops in the soup pot along with rosemary most of the time, and it’s great with pork, especially sausage. It’s a great savory herb. It is supposed to be cleansing, and burning a little bit of dried sage makes a good incense.

Basil
Fresh basil is key for Italian food. Chop up a bit in homemade marinara, make some pesto, or use it to top margherita pizza. Yum!

Cilantro
Oh, cilantro, you are my favorite. Add it to Chinese & Mexican (or Chinese-Mexican fusion food, which is amazing!) for a little extra zing. It makes salsa.

Cilantro is the leaf portion of the plant; the seeds are known as coriander. And every time I’ve tried to grow cilantro, I get mostly coriander. I grow these sad little stalks with two or three little leaves, and then it flowers and grows coriander seeds, and no more leaves. First, I let it flower, and hoped it would continue to grow leaves. That didn’t work. The next year I pruned it and cut the buds off before it flowered. No go.

This year, though, I am determined to grow cilantro. I’m tired of having to buy a whole heaping bunch at the grocery store and having to throw it out three days later, after having used a quarter of it.

I’m a whiz in the kitchen, but the kitchen garden has been a bit of a rough spot for me. This year I’m giving it a go the easy way, I’m not growing anything from seed, and I’m skipping vegetables entirely. I’m hoping that the Midwest weather cooperates long enough for me to get started this week.

What are you growing this year? If it’s cilantro, please tell me how.

Well, hello there.

Welcome to uglythreads! Here I make pretty things, tasty things, crafty things. And I write about it. Also, sometimes there are pictures. Hope you’ll check back with me on my creative journey, and maybe even share yours, too.

-b