The start of a Nicaraguan herb garden
Our gardener has been quite busy. Shortly after we arrived, the yard exploded with weeds. It became obvious that the previous tenant’s gardener just cut the grass, but didn’t really do any other weeding. So it only took a few days of rain and shine to overrun the yard completely with all sorts of strange things that aren’t grass. Our gardener has been going inch by inch, taking out the weeds and planting grass as he goes.
Meanwhile, he has also been planting some new things around the house. I’m excited about the flowers that should be coming soon. But I’m thrilled about the herbs that we have just a few steps outside the back door. Right now we have four herbs: basil and close cousins of what I know as oregano, mint and cilantro.
Basil: In Spanish, basil is albahaca. The version they have here is just like what we had in DC. Basil is certainly cheaper in the supermarkets than it was in DC, but it’s fun growing my own now.
Oregano: Also called oregano here (just with a different accent!), this plant looks quite different from the oregano I’m used to back in the States. The leaves are much thicker and furrier. But the smell is without a doubt, oregano.
Mint: The mint we have in the backyard is called ‘yerbabuena’. I think it’s just another variety of mint than the one commonly found in the States. The plant smells and tastes the same, but the leaves here are a bit smaller and rounder than mint back home.
Cilantro: This is the most different from what I’m used to. The cilantro we are used to in the States (small clusters of thin, clover shaped leaves with jagged edges) are called “cilantro chino” here, or Chinese Cilantro. What they use more commonly here is called culantro and comes in long leaves that grow right up from the ground. The leaves almost look like long dandelion leaves, but the taste is pretty much the same as what I know as cilantro or coriander.
My wonderful mother-in-law sent me The Complete Herb Book a few weeks ago. It’s been fun to flip through the pages and look at some of the strange herbs. Although I think I need to argue with the word “complete” in the title. I didn’t find any listing for my furry oregano or the long-leafed cilantro.