Thursday, July 11, 2013

The First Priority Herb Garden

One of our first priorities, upon settling into our new apartment, was to plant an herb garden.

Obviously, different people have different priorities when 75% of them move cross-country (or mid-country) with only 5% of their belongings. Some might think first of indoor furniture, like, say, a couch or a bed. Others might instantly shop for appliances and electronics, already missing their toaster and their television.


I'm not saying we don't have a toaster. I'm just noting that the first furniture we acquired may have been a pair of bright teal balcony chairs on which to sit while eating dinner, and that a balcony herb garden may have been at the top of the first page of our shopping list. And that technically, we don't yet have a couch.

Now, to plant an herb garden, one needs a few essentials. For example, herbs. Fortunately, with Family Tree Nursery only minutes away, we had easy access to Essential Herb Garden Ingredient #1. The problem came when we had to select which herbs we wanted. Because unlike our local nursery back in sleepytown California, which might carry four or five different types of basil and two different kinds of oregano—a selection that used to seem pretty fancy to us—Family Tree Nursery takes its herbs Seriously with a capital S.

There were, to be specific, eleven varieties of basil. If you wanted Thai basil in particular, you still had three options. There were at least eight types of rosemary, complete with notes on flavor profiles and optimal growing conditions. There was a full buffet of sages, oreganos, and thymes, and side tables full of mint, lavender, dill, tarragon, parsley, and lemon verbena. There were, in other words, choices to be made.

The reason that we had to make choices was because our careful calculations revealed that technically speaking, the entire variety of herbs would not fit into the interior dimensions of our car without violating some basic laws of physics and geometry. Also, we had just the one planter on just the one balcony, although if our car had been bigger, I'm not sure this would have stopped us (the neighbors don't seem to be using their balcony, after all, so surely they wouldn't mind if we climbed on over there and planted a flag...and thirty-five different herbs...on behalf of our expanding culinary kingdom).

But, because the husband irrationally refused to consider my entirely reasonable suggestion trade in our small hatchback for a nice, roomy SUV-herbobile, we had to carefully whittle down our selection to a mere eleven plants (including only three varieties of basil). I can only hope that we do not spend the next year regretting the glaring absence of Thai Siam queen basil and Tuscan blue rosemary from our lives, since all we have now is African blue basil, Thai magic basil, bush basil, and Lockwood de Forest rosemary (not to mention French thyme, flat leaf parsley, variegated oregano, garden sage, and some calibrachoa for color. Oh, and a fuchsia, just because).

Thusly and herbilly endowed, we made our way homewards, where we already had our planter and potting soil waiting for us (for any fellow aspiring balcony farmers out there, you may want to consider a self-watering planter, like the ones you can find here, which save you from having to douse your planters daily by continuously moistening the soil from a reservoir you refill once a week or so). Whereupon we planted ourselves a balcony herb garden.

Plus an auxilliary herb pot. Just in case.

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