Saturday, December 18, 2004

Garden report

I have a small garden, all in containers since I live in a condo. The current roster of plants includes: two ginger plants, two sages (one regular, one variegated), two mints (spearmint and orange or bergamot mint), one tomato plant planted on a lark late in the season and some scallions. My mother gave me a book called The Bountiful Container, which has given me all kinds of ideas about growing my own herbs and veggies. No matter how carefully I try to buy produce at the store, some of it usually goes to waste, unfortunately. The idea of being able to pick just enough for a salad at a time is very appealing. Also, for whatever reason, this year has not been a great one for store-bought lettuce. There have been a number of times when I went to the store intending to buy lettuce and walked out empty-handed, because none of the heads of lettuce on display looked very good.

Already my small collection of herbs has brought dividends. Dried sage has always seemed too pungent to me, but fresh sage is much better. Being able to put mint in my tea is a real blessing, too, and the mint responds by putting out more sprouts. I repotted the orange mint a few weeks ago; now it's probably the spearmint's turn.

So now I've started planning next year's garden. I wander around gardening websites and make long lists of things I could buy, complete with price comparisons among different seed companies. I'm in the whittling-down phase, where I pick what I want to grow most next year and try not to spend a fortune. I figure I'll start with an assortment of salad greens and add some herbs. There will also be a few plants intended to attract butterflies and, if I get real lucky, hummingbirds. I already have seeds for amaranth (aka Chinese spinach) and tropical sage (a hummingbird plant). I particularly look forward to growing Thai basil and mitsuba. The Asian supermarket sells shrink-wrapped packages of fresh Thai basil leaves, but the amount is way more than I can use at one sitting (yes, I know, I just have to cook more Thai dishes). Cilantro is another garnish that seems to be more sensibly grown rather than bought at the store.

So, it all adds up to happy plans for the growing season yet to come, which is probably the best part of the whole thing, especially at a time of year when daylight is at a premium.


obachan said...

I’m growing mint, mitsuba and scallions, too. Like you I love the idea of picking just enough at a time. I live all by myself so I’m more at risk of wasting store-bought vegs. and herbs. Planning is always exciting, isn’t it?

Winslow said...

Hi obachan,

I also live alone. When there's just one of you, the food does get used up more slowly. One reason I love Asian dried ingredients which will keep forever! I'm trying to be more careful about buying more produce than I need. It's so easy to walk into the market and get captivated by all the delicious-looking veggies.

You're right about planning being the best part! So many possibilities...