Southern Fiction Author, Infrequent Blogger & Retired Clown

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

As I’m slowly finding my way around the kitchen, I’m becoming more and more adventurous with the use of herbs (I know, right? How dangerous and daredevil-y am I? Watch out salt and pepper, I’m stepping out!).

But after a few weeks of buying fresh herbs at the market only to have them whither in my fridge before I can use’em up, I decided a weekend project was in order — time to plant an herb garden!

You should know that my success rate with keeping plants alive is on par with my success rate at keeping carnival goldfish alive. Thus far the only luck I’ve had is with my aloe plant, which has survived for two years including a re-potting and a move. I’m pretty proud of it, at least when no one’s around to point out how easy it is to keep a cactus alive in Florida…

Even if I were a master gardener, however, there is another, larger obstacle standing in my way — I live in a condo. Other than a small area with loads of direct Florida sunshine out front and a shady patio in back, I don’t have much in the way of space for a traditional garden.

Still, the taste of scrambled eggs with fresh rosemary and the thought of throwing away money in the form of wilted herbs drove me to visit a close family friend who works at a local nursery.

She suggested trying two potted gardens — one outside with the heartier plants that can take the Florida heat and one inside with the more sensitive guys. A prime placement of the inside garden as a centerpiece on the breakfast nook table will not only get the plants the sun rays they need, but provide a gorgeous decoration and aroma maker for the house (take THAT febreeze!).

Having made the decision to go with the two potted gardens, I thought my brain could retire for the rest of Saturday afternoon. Wrong-o. Little did I know that there were SO many different herbs to choose from! Thank goodness my friend has her own beautiful herb garden and was able to decipher things for me — this is tart, this is sweet, this is lemony, this is great in tea. We tasted, sniffed and felt our way through the options and boiled the list down to:

  • Inside Garden: Basil, Salvia, Thyme, Mint and Parsley
  • Outside Garden: Chives, Rosemary, Stevia and Sage.

Ah! So excited! I didn’t even KNOW you could grow Stevia plants but I’m already dreaming of homemade mint ice cream┬ámade with stevia and mint. Can you even imagine? *DIES*

The only snag we ran into was with the mint (I chose “mojito mint” over spearmint and other options for all of the obvious reasons…mmm mojito). Apparently mint will take control of whatever pot it’s in like kudzu (to point, we picked up one pot of the stuff and it had actually reached over and rooted in another pot beside it!). To avoid a hostile mint takeover of my indoor garden, we quarantined it to its own pot (sorry, mint, you should learn to play nice).

My friend potted the indoor garden (in a gorgeous, handmade white ceramic bowl she gave me as a gift–how awesome!) and the little mint pot for me. I watched carefully so I would know what I was doing when I went home to pot the outside garden. Of course by the time I got to the house everything I promised myself I would remember was gone, but I still managed to get the rosemary, stevia, chives and sage planted all by myself.

The Final Results

Outside Garden:

Inside Garden:

Lonely Mint:

As you can see in the Mint photo, I also swung by the Dollar Store and picked up a bag of river rocks to use for garden labels. I added the names with a green paint marker, waited for them to dry and added them to the garden for a finishing touch.

This morning I woke up and instead of going to the fridge for my little packet of wilting not-so-fresh herbs, I snipped a handful of rosemary, chives and basil from my garden and put together a delicious breakfast! Weekend project success!

Now let’s just see if I can keep them alive…


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