Each week my grocery list features a pot pourri of fresh herbs that I need for the dinners I’m planning to prepare: Cilantro for the fish tacos, basil for the tomato sauce, dill for the potato salad and parsley for the tabbouleh. Fresh herbs elevate prosaic foods from hum-drum to holy-cow-this-is-good! Scrambled eggs taste so much more lively when they’re spiked with freshly chopped chives, thyme and savory. Canned tuna gets transformed from cat food to culinary delight when I add a bunch of chopped dill (not to mention some diced red onion and my mom’s secret ingredient). And my home-made ranch dressing, flecked with pieces of parsley, brightens up the sorriest, soggiest greens.
Of course, all this herbal goodness doesn’t come cheap. I easily spend an average of $10 on fresh herbs each week at the grocery store. So when I charged $30 worth of potted herbs on my credit card this weekend at Clear Brook Farm in Shaftsbury, Vermont, I didn’t feel so guilty about spending money on myself. I considered the purchase a short-term investment in my foodie future.
I just hope the investment, which also consisted of $20 worth of potting soil and a $20 cedar barrel, pays off. You see, I’m not very good at gardening. I either over-water plants and they drown, or I neglect to water them and they shrivel up like mummies’ fingers. I plant them too close together, or in places where they get too much or too little sun. Some people make gardening look so easy, but I just can’t get it right.
We’ll see how well my herb garden fares this summer. Last summer I planted potted basil, but most of it got eaten by some kind of insect before I could harvest it for pesto and Caprese salads.
This summer’s herb garden got off to an inauspicious start on Sunday when I began planting some of the dill I had bought that day. After two difficult attempts to remove the dill from the plastic container in which it had grown from seed—which resulted in the disintegration of all the potting soil—I thought to myself, Hey, maybe these herbs need to grow more before I plant them in the whiskey barrel? I left the rest of the dill in the plastic container. I also didn’t dare touch the basil or the cilantro, both of which looked to small and delicate to transplant. I did plant the parsley, thyme, chives and mint.
If you have tips on how to cultivate a prolific herb garden with a minimum of Miracle-Gro, please let me know!