Monday, July 6, 2015

Balcony Garden 2015

Herbs are the name of the game this summer. While last year I poured my heart and soul into both herbs and veggies, I was left ultimately underwhelmed by the vegetable production. I yielded just one teeny tiny eggplant that was too cute too cook and a total of seven grape tomatoes - hardly enough for a sandwich, let alone the vat of fresh tomato sauce I had envisioned when setting up the garden. So this year, I decided to not even spend my energy on vegetables and instead focus on herbs - basil, rosemary, dill, oregano, spearmint, and lavender*. (*Yep, lavender is considered to be both a flower and an herb). I have to admit, though, that while last year I started everything from seedlings, I went the easy route this time around and bought these guys from the green market when they were toddlers. Why? Part laziness, part schedule, part crappy weather throughout most of pre-growing season. I only feel the slightest bit guilty about it, but then I realize that not growing your balcony garden from seedlings and instead buying your plants from the local farmer's market is a really silly thing to feel guilty about, so I get over it pretty quickly. Anyway, it's already July - how is my garden growing?

Basil - I'm having a slightly hard time with this one. There were some gorgeous leaves right away that I made sure to put on every pizza and dish of pasta in the tri-state area, but then it started to grow and flower, which I eventually learned is something I should not let happen to a basil plant. And then I heard on a podcast that once your basil starts to flower, the leaves are bitter and almost unusable. So is this a lost cause? Will I not have the spoonfuls of pesto I so longingly envisioned? I'm still watering every day and removing each tiny flower as soon as I see it, but I'm a bit confused as to how to proceed.

Rosemary - doing great! There are two decently-sized stalks(?) that are full and fragrant. Every now and then I pull off a couple of leaves and throw them into whatever I'm cooking, and the dish tastes fresh and wonderful. Good job, rosemary.

Dill - I think the dill has started to flower as well. And/or I don't know how to harvest fresh dill. AND whatever is there is so think and wispy I couldn't take a picture of it. DISCLAIMER - I plant things as if I know what I'm doing, but then never actually take the time to read or learn about the things I just planted, assuming that if my forefathers could survive off the land then I can grown some measly herbs. DISCLAIMER #2 - My forefathers did not, in fact, successfully survive off of the land, they instead took the first boat out of Italy when the going got tough and settled in urban Chicago, effectively removing any necessity of ever living off the land again. So clearly I come from hearty farmer stock. But back to the dill - what the heck do I do with this dill plant??

Oregano - flourishing. I'll probably need to repot this at some point, because it's threatening to take over my balcony. Anyone need any fresh oregano?

Spearmint - I have nearly killed and then miraculously revived this particular "Kentucky Colonel" like five times already. I secretly think my spearmint plant is punishing me for leaving Louisville six years ago (I lived there for three years and almost-but-not-really stayed for good), but I show him who's boss by adding a sprig to my bourbon while dreaming of simpler times when men were men and ladies carried parasols.

Lavender - so I haven't exactly turned my balcony into an idyllic and sun-streaked Proven├žal garden like Pinterest told me would happen, but I do have a solitary flower that smells delightful and is oh so pretty to look at. While I suppose my lavender sachet business will have to wait another year (which sucks because I already bought the domain to Spadoni', that little lavender bud is a constant reminder that hardships can be overcome and to always reach for the stars.

What are you growing this summer? Want to kick it grade-school-style and trade me half of your Lunchable for some oregano?

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