Ah, at long last - respite from the customary brutal heat of summer in south Texas, when that glorious day dawns. The low temperature at night drops into the fifties, the high of the day is maybe for about twenty minutes in late afternoon when the thermometer crawls up to the mid-eighties, and all over the city one can hear the sound of windows being raised, cranked open and flung wide to admit the delicious fresh and unfiltered air . . . yes, the woman rushing from window to window last week and screaming ‘fresh air, fresh air, good god almighty, fresh air at last!' - that was me. Pay no attention, I do this every year, round about this time.
The other thing that I do round about this time every year, is anxiously look around for the date of the yearly San Antonio Herb Market; This years' market is set for Saturday, October 16th at the Pearl Brewery. The Herb Market is now in it's nineteenth year. Gads . . . it's been going on that long? I moved to San Antonio in the spring 1994, courtesy of the US Air Force, and am pretty sure I discovered the annual Herb Market event that year. I've made an effort every year since, to get there, by hook or by crook, even if I only had a budget of $20 or so.
Every penny spent at the Herb Market would be worth it. The yearly Herb Market was at Aggie Park, then - a funky oak-tree grown patch of pocket-park at the corner of 410 and West Avenue. For a glorious Saturday, Aggie Park would be full of vendors and potted plants, and the little pavilion with vendors of herbal products like soaps and teas. Last year, they moved to larger and more up-scale digs at the Pearl Brewery, in conjunction with the Saturday Farmer's market - I missed the shade of the trees, though. Ah, well - march of progress and all.
The garden that I have, in front of and round the back of my house is chock-full of plants originally purchased at the Herb Market in 2 or 4-inch pots: who knew that South Texas would be such a bountiful place for growing useful kitchen herbs? Rosemary grows the most rampantly, and without any special care at all, but sage - all varieties - thrives as well. Oregano, and Echinacea, parsley and mint; given half a chance mint would grow like kudzu and take over half the neighborhood. I have a thriving olive tree that I first bought at the Herb Market, an acacia, some Kaffir limes, a nutmeg bush, and a young bay tree that now is closing on sixteen feet tall.
There is no need for me - or anyone else in my neighborhood to buy dried bay leaves at the HEB, just snip off a fresh one when required. Lavender grows beautifully also; with the caveat that enough sand must be dug into the bed where it is planted in order to break up the solid clay. But the other essential herbs in my garden - basil, thyme and scented geraniums, all must be renewed yearly, and sheltered during the coldest days of winter. The Herb Market is be very best place to do that renewing - don't miss it.
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