Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The essence of herbality

Have you ever noticed that it is expensive to buy herbs at the store? The dried ones are bad enough, but the fresh ones, which tend to look very limp and dispirited in their little plastic clamshell cases, ought to have a gimlet-eyed banker sitting at a desk beside their display, waiting with a stack of personal loan applications at his elbow. I never could find fresh tarragon in my city last year, but when I was asked to pay $5.99 for two depressed slivers of sage, I rebelled.

My rebellion took the shape of a little herb garden, which I started indoors about four weeks ago. I bought six different packets of seeds -- basil, mint, tarragon, parsley, sage and rosemary -- which cost me two dollars less than that "fresh" sage would have, and a little kit for $6.00 that included eight biodegradable pots and these clever little compressed discs of soil from Lowe's.

Fine! I thought, tossing my head. The grocer wants to charge me an arm and a leg for that crummy ol' sage and he doesn't even have any tarragon for my Julia chicken so I'll just grow it myself!

I planted all the little seeds with no help from Meelyn and Aisling, whom I predict will be the first in line when I start dishing up food made from our own fresh, organic herbs. They were very bored by the whole thing and listened with expression of amused tolerance as I declaimed about God's green growing earth and the essential goodness of humankind tilling the nurturing soil.

"Mom, aren't you just going to add water to those little dirt Frisbees?" asked Meelyn. "I mean, there's strictly not going to be any tilling, is there?"

"I plan to dig little holes in the dirt Fris-...I mean, the expanded potting soil disks with my finger in order to plant the seeds," I said smartly. "I don't know if that counts, in your book, as equal to getting a hoe and chopping clods of earth out on the back forty, or even acquiring a Roto-Tiller from Mitchell's Machine and Sunbed Rental, but my heart is just as involved."

"Oh, my book, your heart," she said airily. "Hey, don't you usually kill the plants that are part of God's green, growing earth?"

"It's like your maiden name was Rappaccini or something," giggled Aisling, who had been sitting on the couch and looking over my little seed packets and then glancing at me with an expression that combined incredulity and barely restrained mirth.

"Oh, ha ha," I said and snatched the seed packets out of her hands, took my planting kit, and went out to the kitchen with my head held high.

So! I am terribly pleased to tell you that so far, all of my little precious babylamb seedlings have sprouted and they are growing with vigor in their pots, despite the grocer and my daughters and my several friends and family members who came to Meelyn's party on Sunday, saw the seedlings basking in the warm sunshine, and made a variety of smarty-pants remarks about the eventual fate of the herbs. None of their predictions had anything to do with iced tea with mint, or basil-tomato-and mozzarella salad later on this summer, or Julia chicken roasted with sage, or pork roast in the slow-cooker with rosemary sprigs, I'm afraid.

I must remain resolute and keep my inner Beatrice firmly in check.

1 comment:

Kayte said...

As one of the smart-remarking party goers, I do apologize most sincerely. It was just the SHOCK of it all...it just came spilling out of my mouth before I could get a handle on it...really and truly, that is all it was! LOL! I have only heard the horror stories of you and live plants. Your comments about the eventual demise of such, etc. So, I was absolutely open-mouthed in wonder at seeing those cute little pots with all their little greenery enthusiastically getting a grip on their new lives. WOW. I do, however, salute your astuteness in getting them going, etc. as I, too, really don't like paying those grocery store prices for herbs when I know that they are so easy to grow and taste so wonderful. I am trying to figure a way to winter them over next year as last summer was fantastic with them all growing away so nicely. Kudos to you...your little pot growing adventure looks like it will be a success. (Well, not "pot" of course...just pot as in vessel. Just to make that clear in case anyone else reads this and all.)