The Transplant

So, I kind of gave up. My jelly jar herbs didn’t work out so well. Leaves were yellowing or falling off. The rocks at the bottom of the jars were growing algae. I just didn’t know what to do. Plus, I don’t think they ever would have grown big enough in the jars for me to harvest the two tablespoons of cilantro or whatever that my recipes always seem to call for–without stripping/killing the entire plant!

Nearly 3 months after I started with the jars, I made the trip to Home Depot for some bigger pots and new Miracle Grow soil. I also made a stop at the grocery store and picked up four of the potted herb plants they had outside on clearance.

My plan was to give each herb a little more space and either use the store-bought starter plant and my home-grown ones, plus another round of seeds to bulk up the foliage. I selected window boxes that I should be able to find a place for indoors and maybe keep them going through the winter (that will be the test!) I’m hoping that I’ll also get permission to use a certain fancy coral reef lamp from the abandoned saltwater aquarium in our living room…

On August 6, 2014, I “gardened” on the deck in the afternoon heat and got all sweaty and dirty. I transplanted seven herbs, plus a little jalapeño plant, into two 24-inch long garden boxes. I added a little more dirt the next day, but here’s how they looked that afternoon:

garden boxes leftgarden boxes right

chives (mine + help), parsley (mine + help), oregano (yeah, not mine), jalapeño (all mine)

chives (mine + help), parsley (mine + help), oregano (yeah, not mine), jalapeño (all mine)

dill (sadly, mine), basil (also, mine), cilantro (c'mon lil buddy!), mint (mine + help--guess which)

dill (sadly, mine), basil (also, mine), cilantro (c’mon lil buddy!), mint (mine + help–guess which)

I’m hoping they make it and I will have earned my pale green thumb. The sickly yellow one I’ve got going now is a little embarrassing!

Jelly Jar Herbs: Week 5

It’s like I’ve stunted my oregano’s growth! What am I doing wrong?!

This week, my darlings moved out[side] and they got an extra drink mid-week because I was worried they might be dehydrated. But… this is the kind of behavior that brings out the self-fulfilling prophecy side of me. (In case you didn’t know, I am a confessed plant-killer.) So, what do I do?

basil5chives5cilantro5dill5jalepeno5oregano5parsley5spearmint5

Plants for a Plant Killer

Photo credit: http://www.pinerytree.com/product_detail.aspx?p=1&pid=58

Photo credit: http://www.pinerytree.com/product_detail.aspx?p=1&pid=58

Admittedly, I am a plant-killer. Some of my friends might remember my experiments with rosemary Christmas trees back in my 20s. (They smell soooooooooo good!)

Three of these beauties had to die before I hung up my gardener’s gloves. There obviously were no green thumbs inside those gloves anyway. It took me less than a week to kill the third plant.

So I gave up. Horticulture is not one of my strengths.

Recently, I saw a kit for herbs that you could grow in jelly jars for sale. The best part: you only were supposed to water them once a week to a predetermined level (the rock line). I thought, “Now this, I could do!”

Heck, even though it costs me less than a dollar a pop when I buy fresh herbs at the grocery store, it might be sort of nice to waste less and just have them handy when I want them. Jelly jars means they are portable and I can keep them on my deck if I want. Plus, there is a slightly smaller chance of mess or insects–which is important to me, since I don’t like bugs or getting dirty.

After a trip to Home Depot and Walmart, I came home with seeds, potting soil, pea gravel, perlite and half-pint jelly jars. Total cost: $27.53.

seedsI planted basil, dill, oregano, cilantro, parsley, spearmint and chives. (I also did a jar and a planter of jalepeños because I thought that might be fun–I have no idea if a jalepeño plant could be constrained to a small jar though, thus the planter.)

On May 7, the experiment began:

Jars 5-7-14

 

 

 

The Test-Tube Spice Rack

test-tube spice rackFor the curious, here’s how I made my test-tube spice rack à la Dean and Deluca. Mind you, it wasn’t that big of a savings, but I do have 50 spices in my rack–and the cupboard is organized now. I’ve seen other DIY versions of this project out there with other rack styles, but this is my take on it.

From what I understand, it’s best to keep spices out of direct sunlight if you want them to stay fresh, so my rack lives in the pantry. It’s easy to grab the whole thing though and find the one you need without shuffling through a bunch of spice jars and then put it right back.

  1. Wire Test Tube Rack from Nasco, 27mm diameter holes, holds 50 test tubes: $29
  2. Bath Salts Tubes from E.D. Luce Packaging, clear glass with corks, 6 inches long: $.90/each x 50
  3. Avery 5408 round labels, .75 inch diameter: $6.49 for pack of 1008
  4. a condiment spoon (for scooping spices when the measuring spoon is too big) …I’m storing it in one of the empty test tubes in the rack for handy access
  5. a cupboard full of spices
  6. a funnel (well, I just picked up one there in the store)
  7. spice measuring spoons (optional if you want to scoop directly)

If you’re wondering, here are the spices I’ve included: allspice, basil, Cajun seasoning, caraway seed, celery salt, chia seed, chili powder, cilantro, ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground coriander, ground cumin, hot curry powder, dill weed, fish spices, garlic powder, garlic salt with parsley, ginger powder, Greek seasoning, herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, Jamaican jerk BBQ, marjoram, mustard powder, ground nutmeg, oregano leaves, chopped onions, onion powder, paprika, parsley, ground black pepper, whole black peppercorns, lemon pepper, ground red pepper (cayenne), red pepper flakes, ground white pepper, poppy seed, rosemary leaves, sage, iodized salt, sea salt, seasoned salt, ground savory, spicy seafood seasoning, sesame seed, shrimp & scallop seasoning, Thai seasoning, thyme, ground turmeric. (A couple are not shown in the picture if you look closely, because I need to make a trip to the grocery store.)

I’m still wondering if I should swap something out for cardamom, tarragon, mace, fennel seed (or something else), but I’ve never cooked with these so I wouldn’t know… If you have a vote, let me know!