Six on Saturday: Waiting: 09 Jan 2021

A cheery delivery.

This morning we woke up to the first frost of the year: a welcome change. All week, we’d had grey skies, cold and gloom, and in those circumstances what choice is there but to wait, to sit the month out? I’m waiting to sow all those seeds I mentioned last week, oh and a few more that just arrived in the post as an early birthday present for me. For my birthday tomorrow, my son promises to make me a chocolate cake (he has just recently learnt how).

This week’s Six on Saturday focuses on another pick-me-up, winter herbs (photos taken on Friday, pre-frost). Just the smell of rosemary crushed in the fingers lifts the spirits.

1 Winter Savory (Satureja montana). This is a fantastic herb for winter. It really packs a punch in a stew or mixed with other herbs in a salad or sandwich topping. Peppery and aromatic, similar to thyme, it’s a key ingredient in zaatar, the Middle Eastern spice blend. Good for digestion, hence it is traditionally used in bean stews!

Satureja montana in a pot – add plenty of grit as it likes sharp drainage.

2 Lemon Thyme (Thymus citriodorus). Another herb with a good, strong flavour, lovely in a marinade for chicken or with an omelette. It has kept its looks through this mild winter. Note to self: I must take more cuttings of thyme, as invariably they go woody and need replacing.

Lemon thyme

3 Oregano (Origanum vulgare). I am surprised this seems to do so well in the clay here. I grow most of my Mediterranean herbs in pots to provide them with good drainage and so that I can move them to the sunniest spots. But this one is quite happy, blending with the Heucheras. It’s essential for topping pasta or in any tomato sauce, basically goes so well with tomatoes.

4 Sage (Salvia officinalis). One of my favourite herbs, but like me, it doesn’t really like winter. These are cuttings from last year, and they look a bit vulnerable. Fleece is to hand if it actually ever snows. I like sage in black tea: just add some leaves to the pot. This really soothes an upset stomach. The 16th century herbalist John Gerard said that sage was “singularly good for the head and brain and quickenethe the nerves and memory”.

5 Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). It’s my favourite essential oil, I diffuse it in the home when I need to feel more positive or alert. Perhaps that’s what has been missing this week. It’s wonderful in cooking too – add to roast veg with olive oil in the oven, or use with salt to coat potatoes. I have three rosemary plants in the garden, and more cuttings in the greenhouse. This one is the prostrate variety.

6 The patio herbs. I’m running out of numbers for the herbs I want to feature! So here’s a selection of what’s still doing well on the patio or in the mini greenhouse:

  • Mint: incredibly I still have fresh if straggly mint outside in January. Only the pot by the kitchen door is still going, the others have behaved more normally and gone into dormancy. I believe this one is Moroccan mint.
  • Fennel: in a small pot but puts on fresh leaves as soon as you cut it.
  • Bay: am waiting for this one to grow some more. My MIL has an enormous bay tree in her garden, from where I get my supply.
  • Claytonia perfoliata / winter purslane: more a salad than a herb? Very rich in Vitamin C, Californian miners ate it to prevent scurvy during the Gold Rush, hence it’s also known as miner’s lettuce. Mousty the cat seems to like it too. Healthy cat.
  • Curly parsley. I prefer the straight-leaved parsley, but find this one easier to grow.

I feel the need to add that I did actually do one proper bit of gardening this week. We pruned the grape vine, hurrah! There’s something very satisfying about these bundles.

Grape vine stems

To take part in Six on Saturday, visit The Propagator’s page. Thanks for reading, and see you next time, when I’ll be a year older.

35 thoughts on “Six on Saturday: Waiting: 09 Jan 2021

  1. It’s interesting to hear how other people use herbs, so today I’m inspired by your suggestion to try sage in tea. Winter savoury is one I’ve not grown and I didn’t know abt its Zaatar connection, so I I’ve got itchy fingers to try that now too. I am curious as to why you’ve bundled your vine cuttings. Do you use them elsewhere?

    1. The sage adds a nice zingy flavour to the tea. I wish I had more of it, it’s not so easy to get hold of good quality dried sage. I do intend to use the vine cuttings, not sure what for exactly, I was thinking perhaps as pea sticks or general support for floppy plants?

  2. Really love this herby post, and before I forget Happy Birthday! for tomorrow, hope you have a great day (chocolate cake sounds yummy). I really should use herbs from the garden more, perhaps it should be a resolution. The only one I use regularly is the rosemary. I feel inspired!

  3. We use, and grow, a limited range of herbs: rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage being most used. Chives and garlic hardly come into the herbs category, I suppose but we use them quite a lot. You have an excellent selection.

  4. I have never used Winter Savory so think I will get some this year. I love Za’atar and so am sure I would enjoy the taste.
    The rest of your herbs are doing well and they make such a difference in cooking at this time of year – and you do have lots that you can still use.

    1. I really recommend the Winter Savory, and it has pretty dainty flowers in summer too. I totally agree that they transform cooking, I couldn’t be without them.

  5. Interesting herbs. My mint keeps going all winter outside but it loses its flavour as do the chives. My ancient sage keeps on regardless and maintains its flavour too. Happy birthday tomorrow, enjoy your cake.

  6. I had fresh mint until this morning but now I think it’s more iced mint that I have. Both literally and figuratively. ( I also grow Morocco mint and chocolate mint )
    A happy birthday tomorrow and good tasting of the chocolate cake. It should be a success.

  7. You’ve got so many wonderful herbs. I keep meaning to take rosemary cuttings but never seem to – that’s something to add to the list…

  8. I am intrigued by the idea of sage in black tea and I definitely will be using rosemary in my diffuser. I appreciate your descriptions of each herb’s growing needs as well as how you use them in the kitchen. The pruned grapes are a lovely color; do you propagate them?

    1. Thank you for your nice comment, am glad you found the post useful! I do like the colour of the grape stems too. One vine gave us well over 10 kilos of grapes this summer, so I certainly don’t need any more. I’ll use these as supports for plants or shred them and use as a mulch.

  9. You are realy spoiled, extra seeds and chocolate cake for your birthday… 🙂
    Just enjoy it !
    What a nice collection of herbs, our rosemary on the balcony is producing flowers since a few weeks.
    I was happy with the frosty morning yesterday, I was out very early in the morning. (More to come in my next post).

  10. Your post was an interesting read, and I learned a lot about herbs, especially those that I do not know, such as the winter savoury! I really must get a plant and try it in cooking. I was also interested to read that you use sage in black tea, and now I am keen to try it! I need to be more adventurous in using herbs in cooking!

    1. Thanks so much, I’m glad you found it informative! Herbs have some wonderful benefits when used in cooking, not just taste, they can be v nutritious and help with digestion etc. I encourage you to experiment 🙂

    1. Ooh that’s a good idea! Both would really lift the flavours of the fruit. Must remember that for next summer 😀I’ve had watermelon with mint and feta cheese (another Middle Eastern/Mediterranean dish), have you tried that in Portugal?

  11. I really should consider rowing some herbs. Thank you for the lovely selection and background information.
    I hope you had a wonderful birthday, a chara.

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