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Ode to Herbs

I scrolled back into previous posts and was shocked to find relatively little written about herbs. How?! Herbs are a mainstay of the Putah Creek Cafe Garden. Ah, herbs: with herbs we remember that food is medicine, good food the original and most enjoyable form of preventive care. (I am not a nutritionist or herbalist so will stop there, but the internet awaits you.) More importantly herbs are delicious. They constitute little flavor bombs with immense power to complement and brighten, deepen or sweeten other flavors.

 

Herbs are a great choice for small spaces, and though the garden is pretty big, the volume of produce used by the cafe dwarfs it. So herbs are a very functional crop for us to grow: we can grow enough of them to supply the restaurant with most of what it needs most of the time! An accomplishment, even with herbs. And even a small amount of savory, marjoram or lemon verbena can transform a dish. Try green beans with a little fresh thyme next dinner. Or potatoes roasted with butter, sage leaves and a little salt. And don’t be shy — use fresh and use plenty!

 

Herbs are also very easy to grow. They tend to have high pest resistance because of their high levels of aromatic oils. Many are very tolerant of low water. And because you’re using the leaves of most of them, they can often tolerate shadier environments too. See below for a list of what we grow in the garden currently, and see if you can name everything in the weekly herb box I harvest for the cafe in the photos attached.

Guess the herbs

Italian parsley

Genovese basil

Mini-basil ‘Pluto’

Rose geranium

Various lavenders

Lemongrass

Lemon verbena

Lemon balm

Onion chives and garlic chives

Marjoram

Oregano ‘Italian’

Papalo

Peppermint

Rosemary ‘Blue Spires’

Sage – ‘Garden sage’ ‘Berggarten’

Salad burnet

Summer and winter savories

Spearmint

Thyme – ‘German Winter’ ‘English’ ‘Lemon’

French tarragon

Mexican tarragon

 

As it happens, this is my last post as gardener for the PCC. It has been a wonderful three years. I thank the folks at the cafe for the opportunity to grow here, to be independent and creative, to make friends, and to be pregnant and a new mom while gardening. Winters is a special place; having a garden in the middle of town for a cafe that feeds the town is a testament to that uniqueness. May it be ever verdant, fertile, and sustaining! Adelante! -Maggie

Before (May 2016)

After (July 2018)

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