I may possibly have the blackest thumb in California. Until recently every plant I’ve ever owned or cared for has died. Most traumatically, my hibernating orchid never woke up and my childhood Venus Fly Trap starved to death because there were no flies indoors. Go figure.
I’m not quite sure what possessed me to take on herb gardening recently but one day back in April I walked out of Whole Foods with one bag of groceries and two armfuls of potted herbs, determined to become a better plant owner.
Actually, now that I think of it it was the price of a package of chives that made me rebel and purchase the whole plant instead. And every one next to it.
But somewhere amidst unpacking our new apartment, starting a new job and running off to Italy to get married I lost interest. For over three months, the potted herbs baked in the sunroom all day, received only infrequent watering and not one drop fertilizer. Not surprisingly, the dill didn’t make it. RIP little dill weed.
Losing the dill was what finally pulled my attention back to those poor potted plants. I recently visited our neighborhood garden shop to pick up the three missing pieces -an attractive, wooden window box, organic potting soil and fertilizer. The moment I got home got straight to work transplanting those babies into their new abode.
In our urban herb garden we have rosemary, thyme, dill, two varieties of mint (necessary for these cocktails and this pasta dish), basil and a few heads of baby lettuce purely for fun. I expected them to die but the lettuces are killing it in there!
Don’t they look happy? I know I sure am.
The garden shop owner gave me just a couple bits of advice I thought I’d pass along
- Herbs love cool nighttime air. Temperature fluctuation is actually good for the plants defenses which is why greenhouses tend to have more pest problems. I moved my plants from the hot sunroom to our deck outside so they are exposed to the full range of San Francisco summer temps.
- Use a quality organic fertilizer monthly and don’t over-concentrate. If too strong, the fertilizer will actually burn the plants.
So, I may have scalded them slightly the first time but with a little bit of practice, my plant parenting skills are definitely improving.
Herb gardening: What do you have growing? Got any tips for novice herb gardeners?