June 19, 2011

Garden Party

basil 2

Just about two months ago, a strange and wonderful idea popped into my head. In the midst of preparing for finals, projects, and every other stressful evaluation that seems to coincide with that last month of the school year, I decided that it would be a fantastic idea to delve into the magical world of gardening.

Yes, gardening.

I garden now.

Gardening is cool.

Dr. Who geeks, name that reference!

basil picking 1

The wonders of horticulture have always been a hit-and-miss area of my life, mainly due to a severe lack of that special, gardening-style brand of serene, cultivated patience on my part. I can remember in the third grade class garden my partner and I chose to grow peanuts which, on average, take at least 100 days to reach harvestable maturity. Meanwhile, a good portion of my class opted for speedy-quick radishes, which can be plucked from the ground in about a month.

Peanuts take a month to barely sprout out of the ground.

Suffice it to say, between the fruitless rewards of the peanut plant and the envy I felt towards my giggling, radish-laden classmates, gardening proved to be a rather demoralizing experience, even if we both know that peanuts are ten times tastier than bitter radishes. I mean, who even eats radishes? At best, they’re just that weird garnish that you shuffle to the side of your salad plate.

Really, I’m totally over it.

basil 3

However, to be fair, I’ve always had a definite appreciation for the art of keeping plants alive. Throughout my childhood, my mom maintained a ravishing plot of multicolored roses in our backyard, whose blossoms would routinely decorate our dining room table throughout the season. In our front yard, there stood a pair of gardenia bushes that perfumed the porch with their quintessentially Southern springtime scent, whose delicate, white flowers could be seen floating in a shallow bowl of water on one of the side tables.

basil picking 2

It was this stark contrast of gardening experiences that eventually rekindled my hopes that I, too, could somehow manage to coax a plant to yield its bountiful fruits. That, and the fact that buying fresh herbs at the grocery store was seriously eating a hole in the family budget.

Starting out small, I ran to ye olde home and garden store and grabbed a set of basil plants. Sweet, savory, vibrant basil instantly spoke to me of all manner of summery culinary delights, from rich pestos to crunchy panzanellas. I also opted to include a pair of tomato plants as well as a lone bunch of tomatillos.

Let’s skip past how those two turned out, shall we?

basil 4

My basil has been an mercifully expedient and beautifully successful venture in my world of gardening. This could be due to the fact that I bought the entire, full-grown plants and just popped ‘em in the ground, rather than bothering to plant them from mere seedlings, but I choose to believe that I’ve discovered a latent, herb-growing talent hidden deep within my already incredibly nurturing nature instead.

Well, that and the fact that my dad keeps track of when the heat-scorched buds might benefit from a dousing with the garden hose. He’s very helpful like that.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. :)

basil bowl

Now, for as much as I’ve bared my radish-scarred soul and bragged about my basil adventures, I do need my readers’ help with something. I have overflowing amounts of basil at my disposal and maybe two recipes in which to use it. So tell me, what do you think I should make with all this fresh basil??


  1. I wear a fez now...

  2. I wish my basil had looked like yours. I ended up killing mine. :(
    I am going to try it again though. Basil is my favorite herb.

  3. Congratulations! I am a terrible gardener. My mom is similar to yours, with giant bushes of lovely flowers and a giant garden full of tomatoes and things when we were growing up... But I manage to kill everything. Your basil looks gorgeous!

  4. Congratulations on your mighty basil. I love all the green. My dream is a big vegetable garden to wander in at dusk or first thing in the morning, mug of tea in hand. Mm, relaxing.

    I've been thinking about basil recipes. How about one of these: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/basil ? I'm loving the sound of the lentil/tomato/basil flatbread.

    p.s. Did you see the Who finale? What did you think of the big River reveal?

  5. congrats on your lovely basil..hmm why not pocket fresh basil in chicken or a great basil sacue for pasta..yum
    can't wait to see what you come up with!


  6. AnonymousJune 23, 2011

    I am soo jealous... I can't wait to have my own backyard so I can have a garden, too!!

  7. It isn't a garden without some basil:) As soon as your tomatoes are ripe, I would suggest making a Checca sauce toss with fresh mozzarella and pasta. My daughter just asked me when I was going to make it now that the summer bounty is here!

  8. Cooking and gardening go hand-in-hand - what could be nicer than to use the herbs and vegetables you've grown yourself. The basil looks like a great success!

  9. @Becky: ...because fezzes are cool. :D

    @Kristen: Try, try again. Basil's the best! :)

    @Deb and Mandy: But of course!

    @the sugar apothecary: Thanks! I have to admit, even though I'm glad to make a foray into gardening, I'm also just as happy to enjoy other people's efforts instead. :D

    @Suzler: That herb garden sounds luverly. Plus those basil recipes sound delish! I have to say, the idea of lentils within a flatbread dough sounds very cool.

    I was quite pleased with the River Song identity reveal. As usual, there's still about a zillion unanswered questions about everrrrrything, but I liked it. :)

    @sweetlife: Oooh, I like the idea of basil-stuffed chicken! I haven't made anything like that in a long time.

    @mangiabella: Thank you! :D

    @Dana: It's a bit of work, but gardening is very fun.

    @The Galley Gourmet: So true! Checca sauce with mozzarella and pasta sounds amazing!

    @Hester: Most definitely. I love being able to just nip out to the backyard and grab whatever ingredients I need.

  10. wow, Koci, your basil look amazing. I have some herbs growing in pot and they can't be compared with yours.
    Lots of Italian dishes are running through my head using fresh basil, mmm

  11. I have been thinking about starting a garden too!

    You HAVE to make a margherita pizza


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