Thursday, October 6, 2011

Not resting on my laurels

Somehow I just could not resist that title for this post. Several years ago my wife returned from the local farmer's market with two small plants in 6" pots. She said that the plants were laurel, and she had asked the farmer to order them specially for her because she has always wanted a laurel plant. I thought: "four plus decades of marriage and you never mentioned your wanting a laurel plant." At times like that silence is golden. There is a big difference between wanting to own a plant, and taking care of it, because yours truly got custody of the laurel plants.

The first frost of the season was due last night, so I placed the laurels and the orange tree in the tool shed to protect them, and today I began getting them ready to bring them into the basement for the winter.

The laurel, shown above, received it's annual pruning and repotting and the trimmed leaves will be dried and used for seasoning. Over the years I have sort of grown to like these plants, as absolutely nothing bothers them. Insects avoid them, drought does not bother them, nor does cool, damp, rainy weather. They just sit on the patio and grow and grow. Additionally, they take spending the winter in the basement, in dim light, right in stride. In essence, they are an ideal house plant.

This variety of laurel is Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae, better know as bay laurel. It is also commonly called bay leaf and can be found on the spice rack at the local supermarket. I can't imagine what the tub full of laurel would be worth if you were to purchase that much from the supermarket. Then again, I can't imagine what we are ever going to do with all this laurel. That will be my wife's problem.

This is what Wikipedia says about laurel:

"Bay leaf (plural bay leaves) refers to the aromatic leaf of the bay laurel (Laurus nobilis, Lauraceae). Fresh or dried bay leaves are used in cooking for their distinctive flavor and fragrance. The leaves are often used to flavor soups, stews, braises and pâtés in Mediterranean cuisine. The fresh leaves are very mild and do not develop their full flavor until several weeks after picking and drying."

What has all that have to do with hydroponics? Well, for several years the plants have been potted in used media from the AutoPots that would normally be discarded, and fed with used nutrients. I guess that it would be fair to state that they are also growing hydroponically, and they are doing great.

P.S. I happened to accompany my wife to the Fresh Food Market today; while there I checked the price of bay leaf. The price of a small envelope was just under three dollars, however, the unit price of bay leaf was listed at $9.96 per OUNCE!
I would say that it is a house plant that earns its keep.

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