Fawlty flowers


I love to cook. I love to cook with fresh ingredients, making things from scratch. This is why I have designed a herb stand in my kitchen, with the idea being that it will be filled with growing, fresh herbs I can use for my recipes, coupled with the sturdier perennials grown in pots by the back door.

Generally it works quite well. The mint, sage, thyme and rosemary all do O.K. I’ve only just planted the oregano and marjoram, so we will see with those, and the coriander is spilling out of the tin pot in the kitchen.

But my greatest herb failure is the one I use the most. Basil. I CANNOT grow the damn stuff. I have tried from seed. I have tried from plug plant. I have tried from full grown plant that I put straight into my kitchen. The seeds get to about 3mm big then stop. The plug plant stays at the same size as when I bought it, then slowly shrivels. It’s best not to describe what happened to the full plant, as I wouldn’t want any younger readers to cry or have nightmares.

It makes me really cross. Gone are my dreams of making homemade pesto with basil I have grown. My Italian dishes are flavoured with (gasp) DRIED herbs, not beautiful fresh ones. What’s a chef to do? (Other than add one of those living herb pots to her shopping every week, because that’s how long it will last before the basil curse kicks in and it gives up the ghost.)

I have researched. (I don’t actually know how my parents managed to be grown-ups without Google. They were obviously much better at faking it than me!) The advice wasn’t particularly helpful – it either covered what I was already doing, was telling me what to do once the plants had grown (oh, I wish I could get to that stage) or was contradictory. The one that seems to work best is the covered seedlings, but once they leave the protection of the plastic covering, it is a quick, slippery slope into death for the poor thing. Apparently our house is the place where basil goes to die.

I shall make one final attempt for this year, then admit defeat. Maybe it’s just as well; the husband doesn’t really like pesto anyway.

Back to blog