Plant a Healing Herb Garden

There’s an egg-shaped barbecue on a tiny, thrown-together deck in my backyard and nothing else but the sod the developers laid down last summer. I know I should look out there and see possibility, but that green postage stamp feels like it’s crushing me right now. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m newly separated with three kids. Maybe it’s the fact that my ex is the only person who knows how to manage the egg-shaped barbecue that stares at me like an angry green droid. I love eating barbecue, and I love lazy summer dinners with family and friends, and so in a moment of pure determination (or perhaps insanity), I decide I’m going to learn how use that egg, and plant a healing herb garden with my kids.

I’ve got these two rectangular planters that I’ve carted with me over several moves. With just a bit of elbow grease and a few of those plastic ratchet ties, I secure them to the railing of my mini-deck. At each home I’ve lived in for the last six years, they’ve been overflowing with herbs. One planter for savory herbs used for cooking, and the other for medicinal herbs for tea and tinctures. I left them untouched when we moved to this house last summer. Now, I’m going to head to Mori Gardens in search of some soil and plants. I won’t plant a thing until the morning when the kids are off school for the holiday weekend. I’ll enlist them so that this healing herb garden will be ours to nurture together. It’s the perfect time for planting herbs and veggies. If we get started now, they’ll thrive through the summer and be ready to harvest all the way into the early fall. Maybe I’ll even get some tomato plants. All my kids love tomatoes.

With this huge change in our lives, it’s unlikely that I’ll get that patio installed this summer, but we can still enjoy dinner with the windows thrown open and a warm breeze blowing through the house. Or a picnic on a blanket in the grass. When I close my eyes, I picture myself managing that barbecue like a boss, snipping tarragon by the fistful to sprinkle liberally over perfectly-cooked chicken thighs, perhaps with a cream sauce? I imagine sipping mojitos with freshly crushed mint in the company of dear friends. Or my daughters and I creating homemade face masks with fresh lavender, enjoying a stay-at-home spa while we binge-watch our favourite Netflix shows. I imagine healing, good food, and family in a whole new configuration.

My five and a half year old son will use his tiny red watering can to give our herbs a drink every day. I’ll catch him sneaking basil leaves because he loves to pluck them right off the plant and eat them. My middle daughter will try too hard to help him, and they’ll fight and make up over the joy of crushing fresh rosemary and smelling its fragrant oils.

Next summer, when this transition is a distant memory, we’ll create the outdoor living oasis we’ve dreamed of with a huge harvest table and canopy filled with twinkling lights. Maybe a raised vegetable plot that we can tend. I’m starting to think I should just sit down with Mori Garden Designer Joanne Young and come up with a plan to work towards. It feels good to dream. To imagine this vast, empty space full of lush plants and happy kids.

Meanwhile, we can start small by filling containers with colorful blooms and herbs to tend. It will be a nice distraction for my family and we’ll grow, we’ll thrive and we’ll grill.

Healing Herb Garden Wish List:

SAVORY:
Thyme
Tarragon
Basil
Dill
Oregano
Rosemary
Parsley

MEDICINAL:
Mojito Mint
Lavender
Chamomile
Lemon Balm

Check out this DELICIOUS recipe for Sauteed Chicken with Tarragon Cream Sauce.

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