Saturday, October 28, 2006

My Herb Garden

So about 2 months ago, a friend gave me a variety of little seedlings including basil, mini basil, oregano, marjoram, spearmint and catnip. She had started them from seed in paper egg crates (so clever I think!). Since I don't really have an yard, I repotted the seedlings in pots , and a variety of containers including yogurt, milk, and tofu in which I made drainage holes.

I love using fresh herbs but resent having to purchase a whole bunch of it only to use 1-2 tbsp and then toss the rest because I have no other use for it. It has been nice to go out and pick fresh basil for some of the Italian dishes I've made recently. The basil grew quickly and will most likely wither soon since they don't particularly like cold weather, not even the mild winters we have in California. So I'll have to harvest soon and make pesto.

I've really learned a lot about gardening since last summer when I failed to grow anything successfully. Last year, I tried to grow basil and other vegetables from seed but didn't have any success. I probably should have planted the seeds in really small containers as opposed to the gallon containers I used. Apparently growing seeds in large pots is a waste of soil, and causes rot because there's a lot of soil that isn't being put to use immediately.

A successful way to germinate seeds is to plant them in very small containers (like egg crates). Let the seeds germinate inside where it's nice and warm, sprout, and establish themselves. Then repot in containers that are size and height proportionate. You don't want to place a newly sprouted seedling into 1-gallon pot, more like a half pint container (think small cottage cheese container). As the seedlings grow and develop, you repot them in bigger containers. I think this is why I had some success this year, outside of my friend helping me out.

As you can see from the pictures above, I have a little fence around my pots. I have an unidentified critter that digs the soil of my basil and mini basil plants but leaves the plants in tact! Initially I thought it was a squirrel because I hear they love basil but none of the leaves were touched. Than I thought it was a cat. In any case, I moved them to a 2.5 foot high table thinking that would stop the critter, but it still attacked! Then I built the fence you see and attached it to the table. Still the critter came! I have no idea what it could be!

The critter took a two week hiatus and decided to attach my vulnerable flat leaf parsley plant this afternoon while I was out! I still have no idea what it is and wish I could capture it on camera.

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