Thursday, March 11, 2010

Starting small - our herb garden

Being half Italian means I was brought by a mom who loved to cook. She made everything from scratch (my dad helped of course!), and taught me the basic ways to make things from spaghetti sauce to baked chicken. These basic dishes always had fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme in them. We never had an "Italian seasoning mix" because we just added our own herbs to taste as we desired. When I was growing up, she had even created an herb garden in a circle - designed to look like a clock. Every "number" was a different herb, and a sun dial was sitting in the middle to complete the theme. It was beautiful and functional.

Now, these many years later, I am reading my "Natural Home" magazine, and they're writing about edible landscaping. Edible landscaping is the concept of creating your vegetable and herb gardens in the same creative way you might lay out a flower garden - to be astheticly pleasing. But more importantly, it will be functional, and because of the beauty, you will be even more likely to spend time out there collecting your crops. My mom has always said she was ahead of her time, and this is just another thing she did way before it became popularized. I've had the ultimate mentor in my edible landscaping, and I've started thinking of which veggies I will want to grow when I move.

Unfortunately, right now, we live in a townhome, and do not have a yard. That makes edible landscaping quite impossible, and while some might let that deter them from having a garden at all, we won't! We have a faux balcony which is just wide enough to fit a small planting box outside. We chose a 6 foot long one to grow our herbs in. Herbs seemed to be the best option for us to grow, since they don't need especially deep soil, nor do they need to be able to climb up a vine or anything. While choosing my herbs, I thought about what I largely cook. We had to have cilantro, because we eat salsa like it's going out of style in the summer. But what else? I thought back to those homemade Italian dishes my mom had instructed me on, all those years ago, and we decided to add basil, thyme, oregano, and rosemary. We also got a small window pot to grow a one time crop of strawberries.

We started our seeds off in these jiffy pot type things, that can be planted once the seeds have been germinated. We'll be transferring them into the window box this weekend (14 days later), and keeping it inside until the dangers of frost are gone. I'm extremely excited - not only to have fresh herbs, but to know exactly where they've been, how they were grown, and to know there were no eco costs of travel to get them to our table! I'll post pictures of the herbs as they grow. It's nice to benefit from fresh tastes while being eco friendly! :)

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