chal-lenge: noun a calling to account or into question

Follow along as I challenge the tricks, tips, clever craft and decorating ideas and "simple" recipes that we clip, bookmark, and "pin" for trial at a later date.

Are they really worth the effort? Time (and I) will tell!

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!

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