Garden Reboot

Published Categorized as Food, Home

I’ve been reading a lot about sustainable, local and healthy food lately, and The Omnivore’s Dilemma in particular has inspired me to really give producing part of my own food another shot, even if it’s just a tiny portion in my tiny apartment courtyard.

With that inspiration and a thrifted copy of Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion, I went out and bought some decent sized pots, manure, mulch, the most expensive organic potting mix I could find (as it turns out, all dirt is not created equal) and a bunch of seedlings and seeds.

My aim for this garden is to grow herbs that I love but are always so expensive in the supermarket, as well as some things to spice up the salads that I usually eat for at least one meal a day, every day. At the moment my garden consists of: basil, oregano, garlic chives, parsley, coriander, mint, an ailing strawberry plant, jalapenos, yellow and purple chillies, spinach, radish, gourmet lettuce (still yet to sprout), Portabello mushrooms, chamomile and a flowering plant whose name I’ve forgotten, but refuses to flower. I’d like to get a Thai basil and maybe a cherry tomato plant eventually, although I think I might have missed the boat on tomato harvesting season.

Those of you who were reading my blog over a year ago might be wondering what became of the chamomile seedlings I was so proud of? The answer is: not a whole lot. The seedlings grew into spindly little clusters throughout winter, and then when they refused to progress beyond that I attempted to thin them out (I’ll be honest – I planted the the little underdogs in a separate pot; throwing them out seemed a bit like killing off the weakest of my children). It’s halfway through summer now, and there’s been only slight growth and not even a hint that any of them are even considering flowering. I decided to be brutal and throw out the stragglers to make room for more productive plants like herbs, and am holding out hope that my few remaining champions will give me something worth brewing this year.

I’m hoping that the other seeds I planted recently – lettuce and radish – will be a bit more productive! The fast-growing radish has started to poke its leaves through the mulch already, so hopefully they’ll be garnishing my salads sometime soon.

Possibly the easiest gratification of growing things at home, the little cress seeds I’ve been cultivating in cotton wool in my kitchen sprouted with in a day or so and were at one point growing a few centimetres each day! Their growth has stopped now, 10 days after planting, so I’m taking that to mean that they’re ready for the eating. The taste is subtle and mustardy, a good addition to sandwiches I think.

Fingers crossed I don’t kill or render all these plants inedible/unproductive!


  1. One of my goals for this year is to establish a balcony garden, also inspired in part by Michael Pollan. I have also found Indira Naidoo’s “The Edible Balcony” and the ABC gardening “Organic Herbs & Spices” magazine ($10 from the ABC shop) helpful.

    You are far ahead of me!

  2. Ooh, thanks for the book recs Elissa! I’m almost done reading ‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle’ by Barbara Kingsolver at the moment, so will check those out after.

    Definitely give it a shot! I think my issues before were not starting with a good quality soil, not mulching, and over/under-watering. Hopefully this run is a little more successful.

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