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I may not be a pioneer woman…but I can grow some mad herb.

January 16, 2010

Basil, people, what were YOU thinking?!

Ha. Well, today seems to be Gift Roundup Saturday, so I’m going to do another quick post to say thank you to Santa Claus (yes, I’m 26 years old, and Santa Claus still brings me things. Don’t spoil it.) for bringing me a very adorable set of herb pots, to help me in my quest for deliciousness!

Herby pots!

He also brought me a porcini mushroom risotto mix, fancy-shmancy olive oil, roasted mango chipotle sauce, and a decanting wine pourer, all in handy travel sizes for easy transition back to DC, thankyouverymuch. Santa knows me. Quite well. I’m saving most of these for a rainy day when I need some cheering up, except the pourer, which it’s too early to be using today, but in all probability will be put to use before 6PM this evening.

Anyways. Back to the herb. So. I have never. I mean never had good luck with growing things. My mom gave me a bonsai tree for my dorm freshman year and within a month it was not only dead (and turning brown) but had sprouted a colony of fruit flies that plagued us even after I got rid of the tree.

Right. So. Green things? Not so good for Lisa. But, I figure, my tastes have changed, I make my own butter now, maybe plants won’t hate me? Right.

So I opened my herb kit with a lot of hope, a little fear, and a whole lot of styrofoam. The kit is supercool – it comes with five little pots, five packets of seeds (basil, thyme, chives, parsley, and cilantro), and five pellets (yes, pellets) of dirt.

Dirt pellets.

I mean how crazy is that?! You take these little pellets, pour some water on them, and voilà! Instant potting soil! Perfect for my extremely non-yard-having apartment. With trepidation in my heart, I forked my little dirt pellets until they became fluffy potting soil, then put the required amount of dirt in each pot (which, by the way, turns out: I hate. HATE. The touch of terra cotta. It’s like fingernails on a chalkboard! Who knew?), sprinkled the required 5-10 seeds in each pot, and covered them ever-so-delicately with a fine layer of soil.

Now. According to the directions, I should then begin to spritz the soil with a fine mist of moisture, so as not to drown the little seeds but so as to keep the ground “moist.” Moist. Right. Sooo I grab a mister from the cabinet, rinse it out, dry it off, fill it with water, proceed to spritz away, after which I realize that yes. My herb pots now smell like Clorox. All-natural baby-safe Clorox, of course, (yes, I’m a hippy, deal with it) but Clorox just the same. Great. Have I killed my seeds? No idea. Do I dump them out and start over? Not a chance. I’ve got no idea where you even buy potting soil for five tiny cup-sized terra cotta pots, so I’m not even about to open that can of worms.

In any event, for the future, I switched to manual sprinkling of water (from a glass, if you must know) twice a day. For a week. Every morning I wake up, excited, run to the windowsill, to see?


Nothing. Nothing?! Nothing. Not a peep. No shoots of green, coming gratefully out of the earth, to be coaxed into deliciousness by my caring, loving hand. No hope of fresh herb salads, roasted chicken dishes with that little extra hint of “did you grow this yourself?” herbiness, no hope for that moment when my own Marlboro Man* whisks me off to a ranch somewhere in the Southwest where my adorable children will sit at my feet while I harvest the bounty of my manicured garden…

*Smack.* That’s the sound of reality, coming back to haunt me.

…Or is it?

This morning, after a week of complete disillusionment with herb pots, I woke up slightly sore (went dancing last night!) and tired, grumbled over to my window to see if the sun was shining, and looked down to find:


Agh! Do you see it?!?! The tiny shoots of green!? Here’s a close-up, for those who might be skeptical.

Tiny. Green. Leaves!

I HAVE CREATED SOMETHING! That is ALIVE!!! Now? All I have to do. Are you ready for this? It’s very simple. There’s only one real rule from here on out, now that the little guy is living…Do. Not. Kill. It.

The next few days are going to be crucial – now that I’ve got at least one pot with some green in it, I’m just hoping the other little guys will follow suit and catch the heck up. What’s that? You want to know what herb it is? Why, I haven’t the foggiest CLUE what herb it is – you think I’m the kind of person who actually marks her pots?! Ha. WRONG. But who cares. A mother doesn’t care who her child is, as long as it grows up strong and healthy.

No wait…that sounds wrong…

…but anyway…

Ha. So yeah, now I’m on an herb-growing high (no pun intended) (OK, maybe a little pun intended) and I can’t wait to see who I get to meet when I wake up tomorrow! By the way, if anyone has any good herb pot growing stories or tips, please feel free to comment below. This is my first effort so I’d appreciate any help you could give me!

*See previous post about the Pioneer Woman.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2010 3:55 pm

    So last spring I bought a similar set from Walmart. The pots had a red glaze though, so none of that terra cota feel. It had the dirt pellets but only three sets of seeds- rosemary, thyme, and basil. I’m happy to report that they are still growing strong. I keep taking them to the brinks of death only to revive them. They are surprisingly tough. I haven’t used the rosemary and thyme as much as I should, but I love using the basil. I use it on pizza and pasta/tomato dishes mostly. Also I just noticed that in the spots where I ripped off leaves and ate them…. there are new leaves coming in. WOO! I understand your joy, when you live in a small apartment alone, with no animals like me, the tiny sign of life is refreshing.

    • lisam permalink
      January 18, 2010 6:38 pm

      Totally – the little herby guys are my only real commitment at this point…kinda sad, but they make me so happy!

  2. LauraC permalink
    January 16, 2010 6:29 pm

    Yay for fresh herbs! Make sure you Google the care instructions for each one, though – I learned this the hard way (assuming if I watered them and they got sufficient sunlight, that would do it). You want to keep them from flowering or they will stop producing new growth (something about putting more energy into flowering than growing…I don’t understand the exact science, I’m an accountant). Learned this one when my basil grew pretty little flowers and then the stalks all turned to the texture of wood and stopped producing new basil leaves 😦

    • lisam permalink
      January 18, 2010 6:37 pm

      Wow – what a great point! Thanks, Laura – I’ll make sure I do some research. Glad you’re reading! 🙂

  3. Meghan Hokom permalink
    January 20, 2010 11:48 pm

    I couldn’t get these to work! I am hoping to plant a whole herb garden soon at our new house though. Thanks for the tip about avoiding the flowering. Lisa, I just love your blog!

    • lisam permalink
      January 21, 2010 2:24 pm

      Thanks, Meghan! I’m so excited you read it! And I’m so sorry about the herb pots – I’ve had good luck now with all but the cilantro. Hopefully the herb garden will pan out at the new house – have fun!

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