Thursday, July 9, 2009
As winter packed its bags this year to make way for spring, my partner and I began to ponder the possibilities for a home garden. Apartment living doesn't always offer many options for growing vegetables, but we are lucky enough to have a little west-facing balcony that already houses our potted sage and rosemary. The two were able to make it through the cold season in Seattle and began to thrive again once the temperature allowed.
Since I was lucky enough to have my number called back in April for a plot in the community garden down the street, we decided that our vegetables would be grown there where the sunlight would be more plentiful. As far as we were concerned, it made more sense to have easy access to fresh herbs right outside of our door. I was immediately wrapped up in fantasies of the delectable meals I would prepare all summer long with the aid of our aromatic array. The luscious leaves of these culinary plants were on their way into my world; and my cooking. Very exciting.
Daydreaming aside, it was time to get to work. After getting the go ahead from our apartment manager, we bought four wrought iron baskets to hang over the railings of our tiny terrace. Instead of piling soil and nestling plants directly into the planters, we decided to purchase small pots to house our herbs. This way we could move them about and avoid any chemicals that may have been used to treat the husk-like lining of the planters (there was no info provided as to the nature of that stuff).
Now, the fun part. What would we grow? We're blessed with a year-round, weekly farmer's market just a few blocks down the street where some of the vendors feature herb and veggie starts in the spring. It wasn't hard to make choices once those happy little saplings (Bob Ross moment) came into our line of sight. Over the course of a couple of weeks, we collected a good variety of herbs: savory, oregano, chives, marjoram, Italian parsley, cilantro, and basil. We armed ourselves with pots and soil and introduced our herbs to their new homes. Time to let nature do its thing and allow time for these guys to photosynthesize their way skyward.
Since we first got started, we have brought more plants into the mix. Something called Cuphea, with small leaves and bright orange flowers that are supposed to be a treat for hummingbirds; two miniature roses left over from a friend's wedding, their foliage still green but their pink petals finally turning brown and brittle at the edges; and two scarlet emperor runner beans started from seed, weaving their viney arms throughout the bars of the balcony, soon to bear the red flowers that give them their name. Gazing through the glass door at our garden has been such a pleasure, even on the cold, gloomy days that occasionally take over the Seattle summer. The real pleasure, of course, has been the fresh, pungent flavor brought to my dinner table, courtesy of the herb garden.