The idea of an herb garden from which I can pick fresh ingredients to cook a tasty meal has always appealed to me. Never will I have to think of ways to use up an entire bunch of dill when all I needed was one tablespoonful, or resort to dry herbs for less than satisfactory results.
My inspiration in the gardening area is my mother, who diligently starts a vegetable garden every spring with cucumbers, tomatoes, and winter melon as anchors, plus some other things that strike her fancy that year. Come summer, we have an abundant supply of juicy cucumbers, and the plump tomatoes are so sweet that it is almost a waste to tamper with the taste so I chomp on them like apples. You can see that the desire to garden runs in the family. I say desire because I obviously did not inherit her talent. I’m ok with green houseplants that don’t flower or bear fruit. I have a huge palm-like plant that we’ve had for years and it’s grown so big that when I sit underneath it on our teakwood indoor recliner, I feel like I’m on a tropical island under a palm tree. My luck with plants, however, ends when it comes to anything that has any utilitarian function. Virtually all flowering plants we buy end up dying within a month, be it peony, peach blossom or gardenia. The ones that do manage to survive are turned into green houseplants that never ever bloom again. The fruit trees last longer, but not by much. I think our little olive tree lived for a year (never bearing any olives), but the mini orange tree dried out like a stick in less time than it took for the oranges to fall off (the tree was full of oranges when we bought it).
My luck with herbs is not that much better. I cannot remember how many parsley plants I bought, only to have them wither into yellow threads a week later. And you probably remember the poor rosemary plant that didn’t survive my business trip last year. One year I was extra ambitious and bought seed already sowed into little dirt cakes that expanded when I poured water on it. They all germinated all right, but I timed it badly so when we came back from ten glorious days from the Maldives, the little seedlings had all disappeared and all I had were shrunken dirt cakes. With a track record like this, you’d think I would’ve stopped trying a long time ago and resigned to the fate of buying herbs from the market. Oh no, not this determined wannabe gardener. Spring after spring, I try again and again. After all, two of my little rosemary plants did survive the winter last year, so maybe my luck is turning after all.
This year, I wasted no time in buying the seedlings right after I came back from the US, because you see, I only have 6 weeks to cultivate my dream herb garden before we go on our Tibet trip and leave the herbs to fend for themselves.
Now, two weeks later, the basil plants are thriving but the parsley is dying a slow death; the two kinds of mint are still hanging in there, but I don’t know for how much longer; and both rosemary plants are completely bald now after I snipped off some for a steak marinade.
I’m also keeping my finger crossed on the cucumber. They are not pictured here but Jason was interested in growing them so I bought three a week after the herbs were planted. I was hoping to harvest them at least once before leaving for Tibet, but my gardening consultant (i.e. my mom) told me today that it usually takes six to eight weeks. Umm, maybe one of my neighbors can be bribed into coming to water them and reaping in the cucumbers as reward?