May 25, 2014


Yeah, it sounds bad. But these are special rocks.

Rocks scrubbed clean and drying in the sun, and a finished Beet label.

This spring we intended to plant many herbs and vegetables in the garden, including medicinal herbs, which were novel to most of us. During the planning meeting, Lindsay brought up the signage and labelling system used in the past.

Radishes and carrots share the same space since they mature at different times. The radishes in this row have been harvested while the carrots were just recently thinned.

Wooden signs, once bright and new are now old, faded, and falling apart. Most of the signs are ready for retirement. She tasked us with coming up with a better, more durable system for labelling our plantings. After all, you don't want someone putting Valerian in the green salad and serving it for lunch. We wouldn't be very useful at work party!

I did some research and liked the idea of using rocks. There's no shortage of rocks around here. Finding the right rocks for labelling proved to be trickier than I expected.

We want rocks that are medium-sized with at least one flat surface for the labelling and picture. The rock can't be too porous or muddy. The rock also has to lay in the right position, too.

The next step after locating a batch of suitable candidate rocks is to thoroughly soak in soapy water, scrub the rocks clean, then let them dry in the sun.

I then paint the surfaces with two coats of exterior white latex paint. The rocks get passed to Claire at this stage for design. She keeps a list of the labels we need, based upon what we recently planted, or transplanted. She also keeps track of the ones which also merit a picture. When Claire finishes her labels and designs in acrylic the rocks are returned to me. I finish up with two coats of lacquer to preserve the design. Another day to dry and then into the garden!

The early plantings got the first few rock labels.

Delicious currants and strawberries share the same hugel bed.

It makes sense to have pictures of the many varieties of tomatoes and peppers we planted from seed in February and March and transplanted recently.

Rock labels for five of the eight tomato varieties we planted this spring getting lacquered. Also, some wonderful artwork on the parsnip and toothache plant rocks.

In other cases we decided to stay generic and call all of our various lettuce and greens plantings: salads and make a number of rocks that can be moved around throughout the growing season, as needed.

Suitable for lettuces, arugula, spinach and other various greens.

Many of the herbs, both culinary and medicinal, have beautiful flowers, specifically borage, black cumin, pimpernel and toothache plant.

Recently transplanted seedlings are above the rock in this photo.

Black cumin, Nigella sativa, is also known as Roman coriander or black caraway.

Others are less obvious and need to be identified.

Thai basil has a narrower leaf and darkerthan basil.

Summer savory and winter savory look quite similar to each other and resemble several weeds!

Valerian is rather nondescript looking but can be used medicinally as a sleep aid.

We don't know how durable they will be but everyone is pleased with their appearance. They look nice together when we have a guild.

I am hoping they last a few seasons. I even designed a few while Claire was in New York.

(Right) Ground cherries will vine with the raspberry canes. (Left) I have new respect for Claire after painting these.