Growing one's own herbs is a wonderful thing, not least because it resolves that age-old dilemma all cooks have faced at one time or another:
for $1.99 just for the 2 tsp my recipe requires, or should I omit it altogether?
When you're growing your own, you can just snip off the amount you want! With that principle of frugality and avoiding waste in mind, I am trying to grow some herbs at home this summer.
Unfortunately, in my eagerness to get started on the project right away, I did not employ the most successful strategy. While all aspiring herb growers in their right minds go to the farmer's market and get promising-looking little seedlings, I decided it would be a good idea to plant seeds in the dirt and watch them grow. Not for any philosophical reason, mind you, I just forgot that if I waited a few weeks, the markets would be awash with little parsely, basil, and sage plants--already looking hardy, smelling fragrant, and destined for long-term survival.
As soon as I saw the little starter plants in the green market a few weekends ago, looking far healthier than my wispy little stalks ever could, I knew that I had made a mistake. And then I remembered how I did this very same thing last year and, when my stunted basil never produced enough for a single respectable batch of pesto, I vowed I would remember to start with seedlings rather than seeds the next time. (Fortunately last year we were saved when our neighbors--so green-thumbed that they have been known to grow watermelons on their fire escape--gave us a healthy basil plant that did last the summer.)
Well, I can report that we have had two losses this year already: rosemary (never even sprouted) and thyme (sudden death due to causes unknown). The dill looked promising early on but has since progressed very little. Could it be because I dropped all the herbs on the floor twice in the process of repotting them? I suspect they were not ready for quite such a shake-up. (And that's the bedroom floor I'm referring to--yes, gardening in a little apartment has its risks.)
The surviving little plants are looking so forlorn on our windowsill that I despair of them ever becoming substantial enough to actually cook with. Should I start over with the seedlings I should have used from the outset? Or should I have faith that with enough sun and water, these little plants will eventually come around? It's an either/or decision here because windowsill space is limited. Any suggestions?