Herb Markers

It's remarkable how many folks end up visiting my blog because they're stumped for an easy (or more attractive) way to identify their herb plants.

Well, actually not so remarkable if you think about it. Many immature herbs lack a distinctive fragrance, and recognizing the difference between peppermint and chocolate mint can be a challenge.

Although my family can tell a parsley leaf from a clump of chives when I send them out to harvest one or the other for dinner, the refinements that distinguish cilantro from dill or basil from an immature eggplant, pepper, or even geranium, can apparently be illusive.

They're always pretty game to give it a try, though. Getting bounty from the garden can feel a little like finding money you'd forgotten in the pocket of your jeans -- a guilt free thrill. I like to send dinner guests out to harvest herbs in the early evening when the garden is settling down after a long, hot day. They get a kick out of it and always carry their clippings carefully back indoors as though they're worth their weight in gold.

Use a Simple Wooden Stick as a Plant Marker

Anyway, I've gotten into the habit in the last few years of identifying my herbs with craft stick markers. I ran across a sale on them a couple of years ago and bought hundreds (well, enough to last to the next millennium anyway) for a couple of dollars. They look like chubby Popsicle sticks (three quarters of an inch wide and six inches long). They're easy to write on with permanent marker and look natural in the garden, unlike the plastic photo spikes that come with so many nursery plants these days. I just insert them two inches into the soil and close enough to the plant to be easily associated with that particular herb.

Give them a try. You can probably find a supply of sticks at your local craft store. The photo will give you a general idea.  Can you go with something fancier?  Sure.  The preprinted, engraved and stamped ones are only available in a very limited number of herb varieties, though.


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