I live in an area that is perfect for growing just about anything all year long if one can forget the pesky dilemma of drought we’ve endured for the past many years. I’ve been a reasonably capable gardener most of my life — thanks to my mother who most likely could grow a stick in the Sahara — so I’ve always had plants that needed tending. Whether they were house plants, everyday geraniums, or wildflowers I grew from seed scattered over moist soil, I’ve enjoyed the peace that has come from caring for them.
Fast forward about 10 years.
I no longer have any property to speak of to plant things in; instead, I have what I’ll call an extended patio that wraps around one and a half sides of our house. It all seemed so wonderful when we bought it, not to have to worry about fixing a leaky roof or painting it, and for the most part, I still agree. But there are days when I long for a yard — or at least a yard that is more than eight feet wide. On other days, I’m thankful that I don’t have to take care of that dream yard. I used to have one and know that as much as it provides a sense of accomplishment and overall beauty to a home, it can be overwhelming to care for.
Last spring, I finally decided to purchase an herb box. Of course, I’ll be the first to admit that an herb box (dimensions roughly 8″ x 36″) isn’t quite the replacement for a dream yard, but I can deal with the delusion when the Pacific is a short 10 minutes from my door. My rosemary bushes grow like weeds in my planters, so they were the least of my concerns. It was more the need to have parsley, or oregano, and maybe marjoram, or salad greens. Now that would be a luxury! A year has gone by, and I’ve been so busy I haven’t spent much time on my patio. The herb box hasn’t gotten much attention. Thyme has disappeared in more ways than one, and the purple basil never really flourished to begin with. What I’m surprised to find is red sorrel bursting with life and all but wearing an advertisement for snails and worms to have lunch. It never really died down over winter, and now, after our recent rainy weather, it’s flourishing along with the parsley and marjoram. Granted, the level of soil in the box is about 50% of what it once was, but still. Surprisingly, the arugula is sending out tender shoots as well. Go figure.
I decided that it was the perfect reason to make a spring salad, even though the vernal equinox is still a week away. Anything surviving the neglect my herb box has had to withstand deserves to be celebrated. And I suppose it’s proof that one only needs a strip of space with bright light most of the day to lull her into the notion of being an urban gardener warrior.