Those herbs which perfume the air most delightfully, not passed by as the rest, but, being trodden upon and crushed, are three; that is, burnet, wild thyme and watermints. Therefore, you are to set whole alleys of them, to have the pleasure when you walk or tread.
Frances Bacon, Of Garden, 1625
As I walk through the garden, running my fingers through the mints and lemon balm, stopping to smell the flowers, crushing thyme between my fingers, smells mingling and combining, a smile comes over my face. Am I smiling because of the scents themselves or because I know what will come from them – teas and rubs, flowers in a vase, something soon to come from the kitchen, miraculously transformed by a little leaf or bud. Does it matter? I think not.
Smelling the herbs is always something we do when the kids are in the garden and I give them a pop quiz – to help them remember, to associate a smell with a visual cue, with a name. Maybe one day they will actually taste one of the herbs. Until then it is fun to hear some of their responses.
When we get to the lemon balm and I rub my fingers through, I smell lemon. I know, not very creative or imaginative. When I ask Ava what she smells, her answer is always “lemon cake!” Much more imaginative and hopeful – hopeful because it is unlikely there is any lemon cake in the kitchen. When Jake smells lemon balm he smells lemonade. The two go so well together on a hot summer evening, especially with a bit of ice cream on top.
For another few weeks most of the plants ready to harvest are herbs, and kale, lots of kale. Most everything is planted and growing, waiting only upon the plants I’ll put in for fall. We have little tomatoes starting on some of the plants, which look much healthier than this time last year because of a better weather pattern. There are Amamatoes popping up all over the garden while the Big Jake’s are nice and orderly – somehow the tomatoes are mimicking the behavior of their namesakes. The peppers are coming on strong, and there will be plenty to try in various recipes; some of the peppers being new to us and others old favorites. Our biggest problems so far have been that something keeps eating the little cucumber starts and a hiccup in the irrigation killed a few sweet potato starts. The cucumbers are well covered now so hopefully they will still be there when I get back up to the garden. The irrigation to the sweet potatoes has been fixed, twice, so hopefully it will keep working.