Wednesday, 7 January 2009

An update on Melbourne Gastronome and her fledgling herb garden

BBQ and tongs

...Well, we're a week into the new year and this is only my first post of 2009. So much for my grand plans of clearing the blog backlog this week. There is however, a very good reason why I've been neglecting you, gentle reader: I've been miserably sick, with tonsillitis.

I won't go into all the feverish post-tonsillectomy tonsillitis details (don't you hate it when you get sick and all you can talk about is how sick you are?), but suffice it to say that from the 29th of December til about two days ago it felt like I was swallowing razor blades with every swallow, and I could not bear to even think about food, let alone get excited about actually eating it.

But I am on the mend! I am gradually rejoining the land of the living (albeit with much resentment on my part that so many precious days of annual leave have been WASTED and should really have been sick leave instead) and am once more inspired to write about food. But first, a little update...

Despite being sick, I enjoyed the New Years Eve shindig that DJ and I hosted Chez Gwynneth (being dosed up to the eyeballs on pseudoephedriney Sudafed helped). Excitingly, we now have a barbecue! It's on long-term loan from T, and was kindly delivered to our doorstep by J and his dad. DJ cleaned it and we fired it up on NYE, only to realise once it was warmed up and all our guests had arrived that we possessed none of the necessary barbecuing accoutrements - such as BBQ tongs, for example.

I rootled around in the second drawer down, but could only find a set of teeny tiny tongs I'd impulse bought a few months ago at Minimax (because they were very cutely and conveniently arranged in a bowl next to the cash register, and cost only a dollar). Our friend A made valiant use of them, despite their miniature size - that's my hand holding them in the picture below to give you some sense of perspective.

BBQ and tongs

For Christmas I gave DJ the ridiculously large shiny red pepper grinder below - it quite dwarfs our poor little salt shaker (sorry Scott, no sea salt - what a bad white person I am!) :)

New pepper grinder

And what of my Fledgling Herb Garden, I hear you ask? What progress has been made there over the last three and a half weeks?

Well, I'll show you. To refresh your memory, this is how it looked on the 14th...

Fledgling herb garden

...and this is how it looked this morning. At first glance, not bad progress eh? Just before Christmas I was inspired to add a few more herbs: in addition to lemon thyme, Vietnamese mint, Italian flat leaf parsley, sage and two lots of basil I now also have common mint and rosemary, plus a Thai chilli plant. But let's look a little closer, shall we?

Fledgling herb garden

That Italian flat leaf parsley does NOT look well. Should I move it into the shade? I arranged all the plants on the back step for the purposes of photographing them, but so far I've had only the Viet mint and the chilli plant in the shade, and the others in more or less direct sunlight.

Fledgling herb garden

Oh, and that common mint already seems hellbent on world domination. Just as well the rosemary seems happy to take up very little space. Any gardening tips would be greatly appreciated!

Fledgling herb garden

Note: Melbourne Gastronome's address has changed from to - please update any bookmarks/feeds accordingly!


Agnes said...

Oh no! Sorry to hear that you've been ill - glad that you're getting better.

Your herbs are looking good - my herb garden this year is also going great guns! It's surprising what happens when you water plants regularly - since I've only just learnt this lesson I certainly don't have any gardening tips to pass on. :)

claire said...

Thanks Agnes! :)

What herbs do you have in your herb garden? Were you brave enough to try growing coriander?

stickyfingers said...

Tonsilitus is miserable indeed. Hope you're on the mend.

Mint, Asian, common or otherwise is virtually indestructible - the same can be said for Rosemary.

Parsley likes dappled light, regular fertilising and generous watering, as do thyme and sage. But these will also be the most vulnerable to bugs and snails. Use crushed eggshells to keep snails away.

Coriander, chilli, rosemary and basil prefer heat, though rosemary isn't as thirsty as the others.

We're enjoying lots of home grown salads at the moment with lashings of fresh herbs and vinaigrette.

Anonymous said...

My tip - plants like mint, oregano, chives and others that like to run are best planted in a smaller pot (with the bottom cut off) within the main pot.

When they get too unwieldy just lift them up and divide them. You also end up with lots of plants to give away.

Anonymous said...

Oh that pepper grinder looks fabulous, and I am sure is really plusqueparfait! But honestly, how can you be a gourmand(e) and not have sea salt in your house? And Maldon is doing a smoked variety now. Perfect with paprika...

Agnes said...

Claire, I still have mint, parsley, chilli and oregano that survived from last year. I thought I had killed them off, but they managed to grow back! :D

This year I grew from seed and I have lettuce, rocket, chives, sage, basil, and yes I've tried coriander again! The basil and coriander were planted a bit later than the others so they're still small but doing okay.

Ran said...

corriander is not hard to grow though at this time of year it will bolt. Mine is currently covered in seeds which i will harvest some fro cooking and some for replanting. As long as it gets water it goes pretty well, though i had minr in the ground.

I would suggest putting mint in its own pot if you can. The root system grows very quickly and will try to take over whatever else you have in the pot. if you do put it in a pot on its own, it should last many seasons, though i woudl suggest lifting it ut of the pot once a year and halving it, as the roots can start going round and round the pot and take up all the space

it looks lovely though! we had to put a cage over our emon thyme as the discerning possums love it!

claire said...

So many gardening tips, thank you lovely people! :)

Sticky: As I moaned on facebook the tonsillitis has taken a turn for the worse, back to the doc yesterday. Not happy Jan. :(
Great tips! What sort of fertiliser do you recommend for the parsley?

Ooh, thanks for the pot-within-a-pot advice Anonymous! Will see what I can do...

Scott sweetheart I assure you that the grinder is indeed totes plusqueparfait! I admit that the lack of sea salt in my kitchen is a shameful gourmande omission - will look for your smoked Maldon version next time I am shopping somewhere appropriately fabulous... xxx

Bravo to Agnes and Ran for growing coriander! It's my favourite herb but I was too intimidated by my mother's declaration that "attempting to grow coriander is a suicide mission destined for sadness" to try. I'll see how FHG v2.0 goes and if I'm cocky enough I may attempt coriander next time around... using your tips of course Ran. :)
ps And thanks for the mint tips too!

PJ said...

Hi Claire

Don't forget to pinch out the tops of the basil, stop it from bolting too early (they have been prone to doing this in the heat).

Herb pots are the best! And yours look good and healthy. All the best with the gardening efforts.