Now that the weather is warming up, my thoughts are turning to summer. I dream of long days, lazy afternoons in the hammock, and fresh summer cooking. One of the things I appreciate most about the warmer months is the enjoyment I get from cooking with fresh homegrown herbs. Unfortunately, neither Alex nor I have much of a green thumb, but last summer we tried our hand at taking our gardening prowess to the next level by building a raised bed and square foor garden for organic vegetables

The garden project resulted in limited success (what we thought was broccoli turned out to be cabbage, and our spinach and beets were a total flop), but the herbs I planted in nearby pots were off the charts.

Excited by the success of our previous year's venture, I set out last weekend to begin making my herb purchases for the season. I went to our local home improvement store and was somewhat underwhelmed with their selection. My frustration was largely my own fault due to the one item I had my heart set on that we don't have room for. Any guesses...? Why a fig tree of course! 

If only we had the space, I would love to have a fig tree in my yard. I know there are some others around Old Town, but you need at least 20 feet of space for it to grow properly. I guess I'll have to save that dream for the day we're living in Napa Valley. (I'm dreaming here, after all!) 

Once I snapped back to reality, and the reality of our very modestly sized outdoor space, I got serious about what herbs would make the cut this year. 

Some of the choices were easy and were based on items that we've had success with in previous years, like basil and parsley. While others were out of usefulness since I've noticed how much they'll help out in recipes that we tend to enjoy.

The end result of my shopping trip was:

  • Sweet basil
  • Organo
  • Dill
  • Cilantro
  • Flat leaf Italian parsley

Add this to the sage, rosemary, mint, and chives that came back from last year, and I felt I had a pretty good starting point. I planted the new herbs in my ceramic garden pots with a generous helping of organic potting soil and water. Grow baby, grow!

Remember these photos when we hopefully show you to towering trees of herbs in a few weeks... fingers crossed.

I made sure to evenly space the plantings and allow plenty of room for them to grow. After our very successful herbs last year, I think the adequate room for them to breathe, along with the deep soil in the pots, is extremely important in their overall success.

Have you started planting this year or are you still in the planning phases? Do you have a great recipe I should try out that would incorporate any of my new bounty? I don't know about you, but I see a lot of pasta salads with fresh herbs in my future this summer! 

Comments 18


4/12/2012 at 10:22 AM
This made me giggle: "what we thought was broccoli turned out to be cabbage..." We had the exact same thing happen to us! Last summer, our new neighbour gave us a flat of what he said was broccoli but which, 2 months later, and much to my disappointment, turned out to be cauliflower.

I started some seedlings of herbs back in February and some are doing very well! It's certainly not going as quickly as I would want though. But, patience is the gardener's best virtue, right?
LOL - I'm so glad we're not alone. We kept scratching our heads, wondering when the broccoli was going to make its appearance from inside the big white orbs (of cabbage). Duh! And then we had waited too long to pick the cabbage, so it was total lose-lose. Clearly we have a lot to learn. :-)
4/12/2012 at 10:52 AM
You're coming up on the Old Town Home one year anniversary. Keep up the good work!
Thanks Eric!
4/12/2012 at 12:00 PM
We planted some tomatoes a couple of weeks ago from seed and were so excited to see them sprouting this weekend. So that inspired us to plant our window boxes which were looking bare and sad. We bought too many flowers and as we don't have a garden they are in various containers through the flat....including a mug!! Good luck with the herbs xox
That's so cool! I'm usually too impatient to start with seeds. :-)

I hope your tomatoes and flowers thrive!
Kristin Richardson
4/12/2012 at 12:39 PM
Mr. Basil!
Awww, I miss Mr. Basil! He and I had a special relationship.
4/12/2012 at 9:14 PM
I planted some basil last week and the frost last night almost got it. Looks like you are in Zone 7, but I'm not sure what planting date that gives you. We are in Zone 6, which is May 15 so I jumped the gun a little bit with my basil. Just couldn't help myself.
I always get a little overzealous myself. It's been really chilly here this week, but the herbs are holding on.

You'll be happy to know the cactus you gave me is alive and well!
Laurie Kazimer
4/12/2012 at 10:40 PM
You will do great with herbs.
4/13/2012 at 2:32 PM
I think that you have room for at least one fig tree. They can easily be pruned into shape (aka espaliered). I currently have 13 fig cuttings rooting in our house and, if all works out, at least 5 of them (1 of each variety that I am rooting) will find a home somewhere around our 6,000 sq. ft. lot. My plan is to espalier them following some variation on the Japanese method (for photos, see

I am also about to take possession of 10 native shrub seedlings, all fruit or nut producers to create an edible barrier on one side of our property. And, sometime in the future, I am going to get several heritage apple trees for espalier!

While I like doing work inside the house, I have to say that my real passion is in the garden!
Okay, I'm totally impressed...and intimidated! :-) My hat...err garden gloves are off to your knowledge on the subject, Thad.

Do fig trees need a lot of light? I'm afraid, space, light, and general lack of expertise over here would hinder their chance at life.
4/14/2012 at 6:34 PM
Honestly, I don't know a lot about gardening, but maybe in 20 to 30 years, I could be considered an expert. On the other hand, I am not afraid to try new things and give it a go!

Figs generally need full sun, but if you have a wall that gets 6+ hours of sun, then you are probably good. On the space front, figs can be potted plants. For info on figs, try ... not the best designed site but full of great information.
4/13/2012 at 8:05 PM
I REALLY want to plant my herbs this year, but I would need to start the seeds very soon. I've wanted to install 2 flower boxes on the upstairs windows (back stairs) since last year, but I still haven't done it yet. I have the planter boxes (generic plastic ones) but I wanted to make painted wooden boxes around them.

This is one of those "Dude get on that already!" projects.
Painted wooden window boxes sound adorable. You could probably knock that out in a day if you had no other projects. ;-)

(Another YHL fan I see?)
4/23/2012 at 8:32 PM
I do like YHL, but definitely not all of their projects. Her latest one with the spray painted dining room chairs (which looked so fun an cool!) was a tad cringe-worthy. But some of their projects were great.
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