September in the UK is the start of the new school year, and it was no exception for me! I signed up for a horticultural course.
I’ve been called the ‘Pessimistic Gardener’ as I often feel I’ve killed a few plants and that they will never grow. Nature usually always proves me wrong, but this year’s harvest has been a little hit and miss.
Zucchini (aka courgette) and other types of summer squash usually guarantees a glut and the inevitable discovery of the odd giant plant lurking beneath the leaves. But not this year!
The weather? – Spring & summer have been better than last year and we had loads then.
Depleted Soil Nutrients? – It’s not because we haven’t done crop rotation as they were planted in new raised beds that we only filled with new compost and topsoil at the beginning of the season.
Lack of water? – We installed automated irrigation this year (more details in a future post on this project).
I’ve been following other foodie blogs from around the UK and they’ve had bumper crops of courgettes! So I’m at a total loss.
Learn a little more about horticulture?
The course is a foundation course in the basics of horticulture, but has modules covering:
- outdoor food production,
- protected cultivation (greenhouses and polytunnels),
- plant nutrition and health problems.
I thought if I’m really serious in growing all our vegetables then I might need all the help I can get.
Last week we looked at plant families and plant identification.
One family in particular is The “Mints” or Lamiacea. From the name you could determine that peppermint and spearmint and English mint are part of this family.
I was totally surprised to learn that Lavender (Lavandula) Sage, and Rosemary (Rosmarinus) are all part of the same family!
They are characterised by having 4 sided stems, something I had never noticed until I picked a few sprigs for these photographs! It’s now so obvious!
Lavender Stem Cross Section
Mint Stem Cross Section
Sage Stem Cross Section
They also have whorled leaves, in that the leaves radiate around a single point. The leaves when rubbed or crushed are scented.
So…If they are related in the plant kingdom – what about flavour pairings in cooking?
Time to consult the Flavour Thesaurus and start some culinary experiments.