In the beginning of the summer, I decided to try my hand at gardening. I failed.
Surprisingly, I do not think that I’m necessarily bad at this gardening thing. Considering it was my first real planting/tending/cultivating endeavor, I have since comforted myself with the fact that I simply neglected to do any in-depth research on how to care for my unfortunate botanical victims. As if that wasn’t bad enough, especially because I knew better, Florida also experienced months of drought that resulted in choking, thirsty plants all over the southeastern United States and the city of Jacksonville committed to very strict watering limitations. Those are the real reasons I wasn’t successful (and I’m sticking with my story).
This time around, I resolved to try again on a smaller scale. There will be no blueberry bushes or blackberry vines or fig trees to raise and care for. Instead, I am affectionately looking after a trio of herbs – thyme, peppermint, and chocolate mint.
I brought them home Saturday afternoon from the market after getting some good information from the actual grower. He recommended that I use any container that was not made of terra cotta as the terra cotta pot itself will rob water intended for the plant (unless the pot is soaked ahead of time but this still leaves the plant vulnerable to drying out as the pot will also eventually dry out and, again, begin soaking up the water from the plant). I stood there dumbfounded, taking in this obvious piece of information that now makes so much sense. Then the man carefully added to his Q&A session with me that most people are not aware of that little fact. He also assured me that my herbs would most likely die by the time Northeast Florida’s temperatures become intolerably hot and humid. Finally, I can be confident that the circle of life will not be interrupted by my jerky fits of gardening ignorance. The plants will DIE…on their own and not by my hand (unless I consciously decide to not care for them, understandably). His kind words helped me to feel more like a novice who is willing to learn and less like a lackadaisical plant killer.
My herbs are now happily taking root in their own pots (complete with a pair of gnomes keeping watch over them) and I’m eager to tend to them as they will be used to complement some of the new recipes I’ll soon be trying.
The chocolate mint is the one I’m looking forward to playing with the most. It is supposed to be a very lively grower so you can imagine how disappointed I will be with myself if I actually botch this one. I have already found a ton of ideas posted by other enthusiastic chocolate mint owners on how to make already delicious foods even more delicious simply by adding some chocolate mint leaves. Hot cocoa, vanilla or chocolate ice cream, cake frosting…really, the possibilities are never-ending.
The peppermint is probably the most versatile one for me as I do more baking than cooking. Again, I can pair this with any chocolate-, lemon-, or basil-based dish and still expect a delectable culinary treat no matter what. My biggest challenge will be the thyme, but only because I am not a cook. At least, not yet. I’m hoping that this herb will encourage me to try my hand at creating some small meals with chicken or scalloped potatoes as opposed to my usual of tomato-based pasta sauce.
The one thing that thyme has going for it, though, is that the spelling of the word itself is what attracts me to it. The others, the chocolate and peppermint…I mean, who isn’t attracted to chocolate OR mint? And then to find myself in possession of a single herb that combines the two? Yes, I’d call that a sign and I can’t wait to put these beauties to work.