From Stick Farm to Herb Garden

I have never been accused of having a green thumb. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy plants and nature immensely. I love taking walks and admiring the various flowers, shrubbery and trees. Part of why we chose our community was due to the lush gardens and immaculate landscaping, all of which require no assistance by yours truly. It’s a good thing, too, because I know very little about gardening aside from the basics of watering when dry.

My house plants consist of orchids, my absolute favorite flower, that I am blindly optimistic will eventually re-bloom. I only throw them away once all their leaves have fallen off and their stems are dried-brown ghosts of what they once were. Living on the coast, they seem to be thriving from all the moisture in the air. On a few rare occasions, one does re-bloom, which adds to my faith that they just need more time. My husband calls it my Stick Farm. It’s not far from accurate.

Potted Non-Blooming Orchid Plants
My Stick Farm

My latest variety of stick-plants in my farm are thanks to the new grocery-store trend of providing herbs as small potted plants. After yesterday’s successful pesto pasta sauce experiment, I’m now the proud owner of two more basil plants, to which my husband cringed and said, “So…you’re keeping these?” when he saw them in the window this morning.

Growing Basil in Window
Small basil plants in glasses.

I suppose it’s time I face my fear of killing plants by learning how to grow them properly. There’s something about growing them in water glasses in the window that makes it less disappointing if they die. If I plant them, then I’m committed to keeping them alive.

We have a small patio off the side of the kitchen that is South-West facing, which means that for most of the day it is in full sun. After some quick online research, I found that these are optimal conditions for herbs like basil, rosemary and peppers. Off to Home Depot I went in search of pots, plants and soil.

I double checked the planting directions to confirm full sun was still appropriate, then selected two jalapeño pepper, two serrano pepper, and two rosemary plants to add to our basil. (If it wasn’t obvious, we like to cook on the spicy side.). I then found planter boxes that I could hang off the railing. Finally, it was time to pick out soil.

So. Many. Choices.

That’s when I phoned a friend, my uncle Steven, who’s green thumb rivals The Green Giant. I asked him which soil was best for edible plants. He happened to pick up the right, new potting soil yesterday and offered to give me the rest. How kind!

At home, it didn’t take long to fill the planter boxes with soil before realizing it wasn’t enough. I’m fairly certain there is some law of home projects that requires more than one trip to Home Depot. Without fail, and no matter how much pre-planning goes into it, each project most certainly will take multiple trips. One Saturday a few months ago, we managed to go seven times in one day just to get a “simple” project done.

Determined to complete it, I planted the herbs and peppers with what dirt I had and set a mental note to get more tomorrow.  It was enough to get the job done. I made sure to separate the basil from the planter box with peppers because, knowing me, I’d somehow clip the wrong leaves.

Then came time to hang them. Sure enough, the hanger clips were too large for the wrought iron on my balcony and intended for wider fences (probably wooden). I managed to hang them at an angle and then used zip ties to keep them steady. It’s a short term solution and should hold until a better idea forms.

There you have it, my first herb garden! You may be seeing future posts with something new to cook as a result.

Lessons Learned: (1) Approaching roadblocks with a peaceful and clear mind allows for creative problem solving. (2) Expect that things may not go according to plan, and that’s ok.



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