I never promised you an herb garden…

I do not have a green thumb. In fact, some might say I have a brown thumb. I come from a long line of gardeners, but it seems to have skipped my generation. Even keeping simple and “hearty” houseplants alive is sometimes beyond my skill level. So, it is uncertain how my decision to plant an herb garden this Earth Day will turn out.

I have already tried this whole thing once. My mom bought me beautiful pots from Cottage Gardens to sit on either side of the french doors leading from our dining room to the back patio. How perfect to have a pot of fresh herbs at the ready so close to my kitchen! They did ok, for a bit, but it turns out that spot was not really enough sun for herbs. I eventually switched the herbs out for geraniums that are only still alive because of my husband’s care and attention.

That is not to say I never water a plant around here, I do daily. I am diligent about using our leftover water from drinking glasses, etc, to top off plants. But that is more of a function of my desire to not waste a drop of this precious resource than any real plan to make sure they are getting enough to drink. I guess that is it’s own bit of tribute to mother earth, though. And we all know how sweet dry farmed tomatoes are!

Anyway, I have done WAY better about planning ahead with far less frequent trips to the store, but fresh herbs are one of those things that just do not last well. So… I decided to give it another go. Plus, it just feels right to be working in the garden on Earth Day, right? Right.

While I was making our grocery list Monday I looked online to see if Cottage Gardens was still open. It was, limited hours this week, but Monday they were in fact open. We planned to do everything in a single outing, so made the nursery our first stop. But the social distancing line stretched way out into the parking lot and it was already noon. Deciding it was better to go to the market first, we headed to Oliver’s in Cotati. We are trying to mix it up with which market we go to for these epic sprees, spreading our dollars around to the places we want to see make it through this pandemic. That is probably an unnecessary thought when it comes to any grocery store right now, though. The shelves are still amazingly bare, with many key items on my list unavailable (no yeast, bread flour, or my beloved Nielsen-Massey vanilla). But still, my desire to see downtown Petaluma and Sonoma county in general still looking as they did pre-pandemic is a driving force in my decisions about where it is best to shop, we vote with our dollars every day.

Oilver’s did in fact have a small selection of herbs out front of the entrance, and we looked it over a bit while waiting in line. But it was pretty picked over, better to head back to Cottage Gardens later in the day. Or, if we couldn’t get there today (they would not be open Tuesday or Wednesday) maybe we would head to Friedman’s. Friedman’s is another local favorite, and maybe they would not have such a long line. And we could get a few other things we needed, too. Like light bulbs, new shelves for the bathroom, maybe a generator in case PG&E decides to shut off our power for a “planned outage” after we have stocked our fridge and freezer to the brim! We both embraced this new, better, plan.

Here’s how that worked out:

Jason was able to get basil and thyme, they were out of every other herb on our list!

Our repurposed terracotta pots are ready to go, but sadly, we are a long way from a flourishing herb garden. I guess everyone else had the same idea, or maybe herbs are like so many other things on my list these days, not obtainable at this time. I won’t know the answer to that any time soon because I will not be driving around trying to find herbs somewhere else. That is not what the Shelter in Place order is all about. We are all learning to constantly reevaluate our plans these days, hence the #pivot2020 hashtag I am seeing on Facebook and Instagram.

So, what to do with my time on this 50th anniversary of Earth Day now that I can no longer plant an herb garden? Well, for one thing, I could finally bake that loaf of sourdough bread! I was given a beautiful starter that I almost ruined, but have thankfully resurrected and it is now flourishing. Or maybe it is time for a little environmentally friendly housecleaning after all the cooking I have been doing. One thing I do know is that wherever this day takes me it will spent at home.

Della Fattoria’s Sourdough Starter

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