Urban Gardening

unused, but not unloved

So maybe you bought too much cilantro for taco night…

Maybe you haven’t trimmed your garden in a while and suddenly realize your mint runneth over…

Maybe one of your besties went to LA for a month and bestowed upon you all of her unused herbs…

Maybe your refrigerator–like mine–is packed with fresh herbs in dire need of use. If so, do what I did & make an herb paste.

All you do is finely mince all the herbs you have. Seriously–don’t worry about what they are. (Though, you might want to worry about the quantities of strong herbs vs. milder ones.) Here I have rosemary, parsley, cilantro, chives, oregano & mint. Mix it with just enough olive oil to make a paste, a splash of sherry vinegar (or whatever acid you have on hand) and pinch of salt and pepper & then put a dollop on top of anything.

Pork sausage burgers with sweet potato hash browns, pan-seared london broil, pork chops, salmon. The best part is, the protein will warm it up and the juices will mix with your paste and coat the greens you use as base on your plate.

Grass-Fed Burgers with Fennel Lentils & Herb Butter

FYI, if you’re out of good olive oil you can do the same thing with butter or even a semi-soft cheese.
And now, a tip on keeping your herbs longer:

Rinse fresh herbs in tepid water and then shake them off. If they’re really wet, maybe give them a ride in the salad spinner (or lay them out so they dry for a bit). Otherwise, spread evenly on a few paper towels so you have one layer-ish of herbs. Roll up tightly, like a paper towel herb burrito and place in a zip-top bag, making sure to squeeze out the air. Then, keep it in the crisper. Also, reuse said bag for your next herb extravaganza.

Another tip: The Prepara Herb Saver works wonderfully. I’ve had a rosemary bunch in mine for about a month now.


another nemesis

Apparently the squirrel isn’t the only menace to my garden. I’ve discovered what I think are green cloverworms. Of course, whenever I see them I fail to have my camera at the ready & when I do have my camera they fail to emerge. Sneaky bastards. I think green cloverworms make sense though b/c they tend to be fond of strawberries. They probably hitched a ride with my impulse purchase & have now infiltrated the rest of my urn. For the record, Herbert’s demise has not encouraged any new growth & now my basil is being devoured.

Trying to encourage a bit of bushiness to my other plants, I found this video helpful, perhaps you will too:

death to fruity

The title of this blog entry is a lie.

So, I ate Herbert. He was nicely reddened & had softened to the touch. It was his time & I knew that if I didn’t pluck him he would soon become over-ripe & his life would’ve been wasted. However, red though he was, ‘fruity’ is not the adjective I’d use to describe his essence.

I know you’re supposed to be proud of all your children; but truthfully, sometimes you get a dud. Herbert was a dud. Sure, his flavor hinted at strawberry, but when I eat an actual strawberry, there should be no hints–there should be: WOO-HA! THAT’S A STRAWBERRY. Herbert’s cry was more of a whimper to the tune of: uh, excuse me, sir, do you mind if I sort of taste like a strawberry.

I’m pretty sure growing strawberries on my fire-escape is going to be a fruitless endeavor (Ha! Fruitless…). But maybe Herbert was a stepping stone strawberry. Perhaps his struggles will inspire other strawberries to stand up in the face of rogue squirrels or to ripen in the bleakness of a Brooklyn breezeway. Only time will tell…


I think that’s what I’m going to name the strawberry.

I rushed out too quickly this morning to check him again, but I belive in my heart that he’s doing well. However, telling you about Herbert has inspired me to share the rest of the herbal gang with you:

Maybe I’m being impatient, but I wish they’d grow faster. I’ve been researching ways to encourage herbs to fill out, but I’m not sure the pinching is really working. I have 2 or 3 of each of these, but still when I want to use them, I barely have enough & then must wait several days before I’m able to harvest again.

I inserted Miracle-Gro Indoor Spikes when I first planted, and it’s probably time to refresh them. I know I should have opted for an organic/food specific potting supplement; but, when I was shopping for supplies I realized I’d spent all my cash at the Farmer’s Market & the lovely lady at my local flower shop in fact gave me the spikes gratis.

Any tips from fellow urban herbists?

more exciting than the masses realize

I am growing a strawberry!

So, backtracking, I bought my usual array of spring herbs about a month ago. I’ve not been uber successful at herb-growing & haven’t found a way to make my “herb garden” last more than one season. This allows me to change it up & this year I went with lemon thyme, basil, ‘mojito’ mint & cilantro (although when I got home and sat on my fire escape to get to planting I realized they’d given me parsley instead–which is fine b/c I’ll use it & while cilantro is one of my favorites, it’s also been one of my least successful). On impulse, I then grabbed a small, three-leaved strawberry plant on the way out.

The morning after planting, to my shock and horror my strawberry plant had been ripped from its new home–likely by squirrels–and strewn across my fire escape. Since the tender roots hadn’t been thoroughly absconded, I decided to replant a bit deeper and cover the top layer of soil with used coffee grounds as I’d read that strawberries like a highly acidic environment; something I hoped the squirrels did not. Weeks went by, nothing, except that someone chewed off a bit of leaf…

Then, two days ago: Look at the little guy!

 And then yesterday:Same berry, more blush.

Now, I’m pretty excited about this, cause I figured the top of my planter was just going to boast 3 weakling leaves for the duration of summer. Stay tuned to find out if I get enough for a cobbler, or at least a yogurt topper, or more likely, that asshole squirrel comes back and yanks my fledgling fruit.