First of all the recipe sounds very good. Problem is where you are going to find any of those leaves, well except maybe oak. Another problem cucumbers themselves. I buy mine at the farmers market and it is hit or miss situation. I do not know what those farmers do to pickles but sometimes they come put perfect and sometimes total mush, this past year I had to thorough away a whole 1 gallon jar they were so bad.
One thing I can recommend is when you get the cucumbers first thing you do soak them in the cold water, tap water is fine, for about an hour or so changing water at least 2-3 times. That will help prevent pickles being soft. Good luck.
P.S. Hey maybe this time I'll see you in Chicago, we (the whole family) will be there on 15-th of August.
P.P.S. Just checked your blog, big no-no, you should find a restaurant supply and by food grade pail. Those orange thing are only good for paint. Anoother problem yo Cannot use Kosher salt for pickling, you Must use pickling salt. Also though it is not a fact, but I think towel will prevent air flow to the inside of the pail and it is not good. That is just my theory, I recomend cheese cloth instead.
You are what you eat.