Sunday, February 21, 2010
Such bright, sunny days lend themselves to thoughts of fresh, homegrown vegetables. Though not much of a gardener, I was inspired last spring by Martha Stewart to build a salad table. I saw it on one of her shows and was eager to give it a try. She made it look so easy (of course). The table is constructed to be four inches deep with a fine screen on the bottom so that the water can drain out but the soil cannot. I showed Tom the plans and he built the table for me. We laughed because the materials cost more than any crop I could hope to harvest but I thought it would be fun.
Because salad greens like the cooler weather, I planted my crop of basil, spinach and leaf lettuce in mid-May when all chance of frost was past. I nurtured the seeds by routinely watering, feeding and thinning them. If I thought the night would be too cold, I covered them. Soon I had little seedlings. I thought I was doing pretty well until a friend told me that he had been eating his own spinach for weeks. How disappointing. Even though my crop was late, I held on until all hope passed sometime in July. No fresh salads for me! You can see the ill-fated salad table above.
I bought some basil plants for about $4 and enjoyed eating from them all summer long. I enjoyed the basil so much that this year I decided to get an early start and grow some basil plants inside. I planted the seeds and placed the planter under a grow light. Again, the seeds began to sprout. Today I transplanted four little seedlings into a larger pot. Their stems are a little weak so I propped them up with little sticks. The directions say to let a fan blow on them for two hours every day to simulate outside conditions. I’ll have to give that a try even though it seems like I’m racking up quite an electric bill for the pleasure of a few leaves of basil.
But how can you measure the pleasure something gives against its cost in dollars? It’s not really the basil itself that matters to me; obviously I can buy basil anywhere. It’s the satisfaction of having succeeded in producing it myself. What’s the expression? "Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime.” Here’s to a lifetime of fresh basil pesto!