Sunday, April 01, 2007

Grow Garden Grow

I was back in Chapel Hill on Friday night with the Divine Miss M (aka Maggie Walkup) and we woke up early on Saturday to go to the Farmer's Market in Carrboro.

We stopped en route at The Open Eye Cafe - also in Carrboro - for coffee. I suppose I've become a victim of Starbucks because I ordered an iced, decaf, skim latte. I really wanted an iced, decaf, skim, sugar-free vanilla latte but they didn't look like they had sugar-free anything so I didn't ask. It's a good thinig too because the barista had some coffee attitude.

When I inquired about the status of my drink which was taking a while to be produced (and while other people behind me in line were getting their drinks), the barista informed me that the shot of espresso she had pulled for me was bitter and so she needed to pull a fresh one. I didn't ask why she was tasting the shot - or better, how - I just thanked her politely for her supreme coffee knowledge and concern for my optimum coffee experience.

She then made a nasty quip about my drink being "iced, decaf and skim" and needing "all the help I can get," and I found myself longing for the unpretentious, watered-down vibe of Starbucks where you are not judged for your coffee quirks or even perhaps Morgans, where their severe lack of coffee knowlegde would have been refreshing.

The caramel swirl on the macchiato was that they didn't even have plastic cups and the whole point of drinking iced coffee (well - not the whole point, but one of the main ones) is that you get the giant plastic cup.

But enough about Open Eye and on to the farmer's market.

I wish I could shop at a farmer's market every day. It is simply so inspiring. We do have a small farmer's market in Lincolnton - open on Saturdays in the summer - but it sells mainly produce. Good produce - but the farmer's market in Carrboro had all kinds of delicious cheeses from small, local producers; organic pork and lamb; beautiful flowers (the ranunculas in particular); divine pound cake and so on and so forth.

I loaded up a canvas tote with lamb shoulder chops - made even more endearing by the fact that the man selling them, Howard, doesn't eat lamb - he prefers beef. Maggie and I are guessing he's merely the butcher. I picked up some garlic brats and a Boston butt from Brinkley farms. I got some amazing goat cheese rolled in garlic and paprika (forgetting the cheesemaker) and also some delicious farmer's cheese - I think from Chapel Hill Creamery. I grabbed a bunch of green garlic - something I've never seen before. Sadly - the tomato truck was cleaned out by the time we got there.

The final purchase were 3 herb plants: sweet basil, garlic chives and rosemary.

I've always wanted an herb garden. Actually - I've always wanted a garden and as it turns out the prevovious owners of the property where we now live used to have an award-winning garden. Sadly, I don't quite have the time for a garden. I haven't even had time to call a landscaper to come out and discuss spring planting options. But the herb plants were so pretty and they had such an amazing variety that I was inspired.

I must have asked 10,000 simple questions on what to do once I got my plants home. The woman selling them was very nice and gave me some basic tips. Another woman picking up a variegated sage plant (not to use but simply because it was so pretty) also chimed in. It seems that growing herbs isn't totally fool-proof but shouldn't be impossibe.

I was told to re-pot the herbs so when I got home I went to the hardware store in search of self-watering pots (which are supposed to help regulate water consumption) but they didn't have any. I settled for plaine terra cotta and made a deal with myself that if my plants survived for 2 months, I'd treat myself to some pretty ceramic pots. I also got some high end potting soil.

The this morning I had to go to Wal-Mart and so I ducked into their garden center. They did have self-watering pots but they were plastic and ugly so aesthetics won out over my brown thumb and I stuck with the terra cotta. I did pick up a cute wrought-iron display stand and a galvanized watering can (got to have the cute watering can).

It's a growing investment in my little herb garden (which I am not sure I am fully qualified to handle) but at least I haven't crossed the line and started shopping at Smith & Hawken.

I re-potted the plants this afternoon - well, I think I did. I don't really know what re-potting is. All I know is I took the plants out of their little plastic containers and plunked them in the terra cotta pots with some potting soil. I didn't quite know how much to add, if there needed to be a layer of soil on the bottom, or what, so I sort of winged it. Yes - I have heard of the Internet. And I did a little bit of research on growing an herb garden - I just didn't find anything that spelled it all out clearly. What this means is that I have more work to do - or, anyone with tips on successfully growing herbs can post a comment.

Anyhow, I set my pretty little plants on their pretty display stand, gave them a little bit of water (I think the rosemary needs to stay drier than the chives and the basil) and admired my handiwork.

Now I am just hoping I can get my little plants to grow because after all, I do live on a farm.

And if that ain't country, I'll kiss your...


Maggie said...

think your garden looks fabby! need an update in a week to make sure you are watering!

Uncle H said...

Do we have to name the plants, too?

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking you need a set of web cams set up around the Paris complex. One to watch the goats, one to track down Tony and at least another to keep up to date on the plant growth progress.

- R