I am a newb gardener. Let’s just get that out there in the open. My mother was blessed with a green thumb. My Grammy growing up always had a huge garden that we would help water, and she’d let us grow a few seeds in our own little section of plot, but even back then, the only thing I could ever get to grow were root vegetables—radishes & turnips.
Over the years, periodically I would make an attempt at getting something to grow, like a watermelon plant or a small herb garden, but they never took off. Probably because I wouldn’t take the time to water them, and would forget they existed for weeks at a time.
But after I got married, I started pondering on the movie “28 Days”, and the end when Steve Buscemi is telling the group when they might be ready for emotional relationships again. “First, you get a plant. If it’s still alive at the end of a year, you get a pet. If, by the end of the second year, both are still alive…then you can start thinking about a relationship.” Of course, if my case, it was more “baby” than relationship. I figured I should probably know how to keep something green alive that only requires sunlight & water before I had to try to keep a whole other human being alive, too.
So, in the first year of our marriage, I had a bamboo & re-grew some green onion tops in a windowsill.
In the second year, I took potatoes for a whirl, along with some rosemary & a tomato plant. The potatoes didn’t thrive, but I got enough for a shrimp boil. The rosemary did great, and the tomato plant struggled at first, but once we put it into a larger pot, things turned around for the better & we got a couple months’ worth of grape tomatoes out of it.
This year…I have squash, mint, basil, three types of tomatoes, rosemary, garlic, and I recently started some romaine & celery from store-bought ends.
I had a cucumber in a Topsy-Turvy, but I don’t think it was getting enough sunlight so it’s no longer with us. (RIP, Japanese cucumber.)
Our patio garden.
Oh, and I still have the bamboo & green onions.
So far, most things are growing well…some things a little TOO well. I guess I should have read a little more about which plants are compatible for growing together in a pot… I bought rosemary, mint, and basil at the same time, and put the rosemary in a pot by itself, and the mint & basil together in a large pot. But apparently, mint doesn’t play well with others. It’s a bully, and it chokes out everything near it. So I’ve been spending the summer trying to keep my mint under control so it doesn’t kill my basil. Because Basil > Mint, in my culinary world.
Of course, upon this realization, I also then realized…what in the world am I going to use all this mint IN??? I rarely cook with mint. However, my friend Ruben made this awesome watermelon-mint salad last Fourth of July, so that was the first thing I decided to make.
This is perfect for your upcoming Fourth of July BBQ! Super easy to throw together. It’s also great for tailgating—we went to a ball game earlier this month, made this ahead of time, and brought it in a gallon Ziploc bag in our little cooler.
1/2 seedless watermelon, chunked
1/4-1/2 cup chopped mint
1/2 cup feta crumbles
juice of 1/2 lime
salt & pepper to taste
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and toss well. While it’s great even just a few minutes after making, if you let it sit over night the flavors will combine even more. The lime, salt & pepper are optional, but the acidity adds another layer of flavor, and the salt & pepper can really make the flavor of the watermelon pop.