For Reals???!!!

Friday, May 28, 2010

And Now!!! For the latest edition of "You Can Do That???"

Bill Bird Productions Presents: "I Didn't Know You Could Do That!!!"

For Real? Honestly and truly?

The things you learn while gardening and blogging! I didn't know you could do that. But I know now -- because I have the proof growing in a kitchen windowsill.

See that basil? That's not just any basil in a glass. This is "special basil." It's basil that will soon find it's way inside a raised bed in the Bird Back 40 (as soon as I get around to building the next one).

One of the most enjoyable things that I've gained from spilling my guts about gardening into cyberspace is the people that I run into here and there. When I started writing about my successes and misfortunes (mostly misfortunes) a couple of years ago -- well -- it was intended to be a family affair.

After all -- I don't have a whole lot of time on the weekends to be on the phone. That's valuable gardening time you understand. There's nothing quite like the downer of getting ready to plant something in a raised bed -- only to have the phone start jangling inside the house. Call it bad gardening karma.

So -- that's one reason why I started to write -- so family could see what I was up too. Lo and behold -- other people started to look in at what I was doing from time to time -- and after that -- I got to meet some of these very interesting folks.

Fred Hoffman doesn't count -- because I already knew him. But there's Carri Stokes in Sacramento -- Greg Damitz in Roseville -- and I can't forget Nels Christenson in South Natomas. Connecting with all of them -- and others -- has brought a new understanding and -- more importantly -- NEW IDEAS about gardening.

One of those new ideas comes from the mind of Carri Stokes. And it's growing on the kitchen windowsill.

I didn't know you could take cuttings of basil -- or any other herb for that matter -- and literally "root it" in a glass of water. It didn't even begin to dawn on me that this was an easier way to grow basil -- rather than grow it from seed. Do you see the root systems in this glass? That's what develops after ten days of sitting in a glass of water.

These "rooted" cuttings will be placed into starter cups filled with soil this weekend and will probably sit in the windowsill for another four or five days until they take root -- and at that point -- Venus and I will begin to harden them off outside.

I should have known this practice was possible after Venus received a small cutting of lemon thyme right after we moved into the new household. That "cutting" actually sat in a glass of water for quite some time before I finally built the new herb bed for the backyard -- and this is how it looks two years later.

As you can see -- the "small cutting" has essentially taken over the herb bed in question.

A cutting of lemon thyme anyone? I appear to have more than both the wife and I need at the moment.

I've come to discover -- during my my short years of gardening experience -- that there is more than just "one" basil variety. In fact -- I don't know if there is such a thing as a "normal" basil. If there is one -- I suppose it would have to be the Sweet Italian variety that you find in most nurseries.

But there is so very much more...

In fact -- some people love basil so very much -- that there's even a website dedicated to this very herb. The following information is Reprinted/Excerpted with Permission from,

Basil is a member of the mint family and is very similar in appearance. The most popular kind of basil used in cooking is sweet basil, but some of the other more widely-known types are clove basil, lemon basil, and cinnamon basil.

With so many varieties, it can be difficult to choose. Here are just a few types, with a brief description, to help in your quest for the perfect basil for your savory dish:

• Sweet basil-the best known, it has a scent of clove when fresh.

• Genovese basil-has a similar flavor as sweet basil and is almost as popular.

• Napolitano basil-favored by many for pizzas.

• Lemon basil-also called "hoary basil," has a lemony smell, like the name implies, but has a sweet taste.

• Thai basil-has a scent of licorice with a hint of mint. Purple stems and flowers add beauty and taste to many Thai dishes.

• Cinnamon basil-also called Mexican spice basil, has the same compound found in cinnamon which gives it its strong fragrance.

• Holy basil-also known as 'sacred basil' since it's used in worship in India.

• Purple basil-rich and spicy, it has more of an anise flavor than Genovese or sweet basil.

My thanks to Dr. Christianne Schelling at for providing the information above. The information provided here is only the tip of the iceberg. I urge you to visit her website to learn more.

Basil -- as you may have learned -- is a very important part of the Bird backyard garden. It's an essential ingredient in our Heirloom Tomato Martinis -- and probably has a lot of other uses that I'm not aware of yet because -- well -- did I tell you that Heirloom Tomato Martinis are really good???



I didn't know that! Why don't more people in the arid parts of California simply grow herbs?

Do you suppose lavender can be started the same way?

Greg Damitz said...

If you want some free mint I know where you can get some. A friend has it growing naturally at his place.

Geno's Garden said...

what a nifty piece of info. Thanks! Jeannie

Bill Bird said...

Maybelline -- if you can start other herbs that way -- why not Lavender? Can't hurt to try. But -- I would stay far, far, far away from MINT -- as Mr. Damitz suggested. Greg -- mint grows out of concrete. Put mint in an "herb garden" and a year later all other herbs have vanished and you now have a "mint" garden. I planted mint at our first house. It's all over the place. Impossible to control. Keep your mint! Hi Jeannie!

Greg Damitz said...

Supposedly you can bury a 5 gallon bottomless bucket leaving 3 inches above the soil line and that will confine it. I'm not so convinced. I do know cutting off all water sources to it will kill it eventually.

Christine said...

Bill, great tip about rooting basil. But I'm even more interested in your Martini recipe. Who knew? As a Bloody Mary lover I am intrigued by this concept. As for mint? Mojito anyone?


Bill - I notice you have another blog related to water but it has been updated in sometime. What is your interest with California water?

Ron McDonald said...

OK, this is off subject (I'm a Blog Virgin) but do you cut your artichokes down to the ground each year and if so, when?
Thanks in advance!

A Deacon's Wife said...

As a stranger who stumbled upon you in cyberspace, I'm delighted to learn of your misadventures in the garden (good to know I'm not the only one making mistakes). I'm also grateful for any ideas to improve my gardening success. Like rooting herbs from cuttings!

I have mint in my herb garden - IN A POT. I keep a very close eye on the surrounding ground to keep it from escaping.