As I was growing up in Central Florida I do not recall ever seeing herbs grown in a garden or in pots, for that matter. Of course, my family was dirt farmers and only raised crops for subsistence. I imagine herbs and spices were not a priority, even if they would have thrived in sandy soil conditions and the heat and humidity of the region. Salt and pepper (lots of salt!) were all that was needed or required for seasoning, with a little fat back thrown in for good measure. (Only my Southern friends will know what that is!) I learned about growing culinary herbs (and every other plant I learned to love) during those glorious 36 years when I called N. Georgia my home. So, can culinary herbs really thrive in Florida sand? The Nassau County Extension Office says, “yes.” Our presenter shared a UF publication outlining how to prepare sandy soil by adding organic matter and the need to group annual herbs away from vegetables. Other topics discussed were propagation, container-grown herbs, and harvesting and curing. During the Q&A session I exclaimed that I have never had success growing basil. Ironically, she gave away a basil plant to the person having a March birthday nearest to the date of this program. Guess who went home with a sweet basil plant to kill? Moi! I’m happy to report that I followed the suggested directions and my basil thrived! So well that I had to come up with inventive ways to use the leaves. I can safely report that pesto can be easily frozen for future consumption. Take thyme to learn about herbs. The rewards are very generous.
During my brief residence in St. Louis, Missouri I had the pleasure of visiting a lavender farm and picking my own fresh bouquet of lavender. What a beautiful sight! And in Missouri, of all places! Ten years later the fragrance of these same plants stimulates my olfactory nerves and brightens my bathroom décor. During this program a representative from Pelinda Lavender Amelia Island amazed us with the myriad uses of lavender! Her enthusiasm was contagious, and prompted many club members to personally experience the soothing benefits of lavender-infused products. Pam even contributed lavender refreshments for our hospitality time. Stop by the store on Centre Street for all things lavender! Even the lounge chairs outside are lavender- colored!!