In the past seven years, I’ve watched a patch of hard earth turn to rich, fertile soil. It started with just a few plants—parsley, sage, oregano and rosemary. Mint and Egyptian walking onions, too. The rosemary grew, then died. I replaced it. I replaced it again. I added thyme and basil (each year), then a few more varieties of thyme. I tried cilantro but it never worked. I tried arugula, and it came back three years in a row. This year, tomatillos crept across the ground and quinoa grew 6 feet high.
Every season, my herb garden changes. Every summer, I add compost and organic fertilizer teas. All that cyclical growth has turned a frustrating plot of clay into a haven for butterflies, birds, insects and worms. They are not pests; they are all part of the lifecycle that produces this:
This year, we received more rain than any other time since we’ve lived here. Welcome rain. Our reservoirs and river are still low, but the inordinate precipitation gave our trees and plants a nutritional boost. Local farmers talked of mold! Vegetables didn’t do as well as some years, but…
…flowers and herbs prospered. Everything in my little garden grew this year—lemongrass, lovage, savory, salad burnet, tarragon, epazote, flat-leaf chives and a tiny new blackberry.
Time to make herb vinegar. I don’t know why, but I’d never done it before. So I consulted a few online sources, and realized it is as easy as it seems. It’s important to use fresh, clean leaves. As recommended, I cut the herbs early in the morning before the sun hit from above. I rinsed them carefully in the kitchen sink, removing any brown or spotty leaves and stems, then set them on paper towels to dry. Meanwhile, I sterilized several large canning jars in a stock pot of boiling water.
To make the vinegar, I stuffed each jar with different herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme; and garlic chives in four separate combinations with winter savory, lovage, salad burnet and tarragon. I used a variety of organic white and apple cider vinegars. To avoid contact with metal, I placed wax paper between the glass and lids.