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Operation Emergency Herbs

A couple weeks before I married The Unicorn, we were frantically trying to get our house in order for the Impending Arrival of The Families.

Wait a second, you’re probably thinking. Can you please back up to the whole “married” bit?

Oh, right. I kind of forgot to mention it, but The Unicorn and I got married in May. I suppose I could have been Mrs. Unicorn, but I decided not to take his name.

But this is not a story about getting married. This is a story about the sad, sad pots that had been sitting at the bottom of our front steps when we moved in, and that were still sitting there in mid-May, filled with either fully dessicated plants or the sad sticks that once had been fully dessicated plants. It was time to take action.

The problem with the whole “take action” thing is that I didn’t really have time to do any sort of proper planning. I knew I didn’t want flowers, but I also didn’t have time to go to a proper garden center, or do any proper thinking about what would make sense across our whole property, or really give any proper thought to anything that wasn’t who had and had not RSVP’d yet and whether we could shove all our unpacked boxes in the garage or not.

So, on a trip to Trader Joe’s, I gave up on any pretense of thoughtful gardening, and just yanked four pots of herbs out of their display. I chose mint, sage, rosemary and lemon balm, and figured the worst case scenario would be that they’d all die, but that if I could just keep them alive for two weeks, they’d make it through the critical First House Tour by our respective families, and then I could go back to normal operations and figure out Plan B.

But when I got home with my plants, I realized the only garden tools I had on hand were a set given to me by a friend that contains very adorable but very tiny tools. It’s designed for people who are mostly windowsill gardening, I think, and while I love the whole set, it’s not great for digging out a dessicated rootball from a fairly sizeable potted plant.

Still, I was determined. I put on my game face.

As I used my serving-spoon-sized spade to hack away at the dirt in the pots, it occurred to me that I would essentially be planting my new herbs in desert soil. This soil was dusty and crumbly and pretty depleted-looking—definitely not the rich Iowa topsoil in which I learned to garden.

Nonetheless, I persevered. I planted each herb, including the unbelievably rootbound mint.

I watered them. I crossed my fingers, which I’m convinced is really half the gardening process.

The herbs lived. In fact, today is officially one month since we got married, which means those plants have survived a solid six weeks. I’ve used the mint already, and the sage will show up in a recipe tonight. The lemon balm’s still struggling along, and the rosemary’s growing. It’s not a full garden, but it’s definitely a start in the right direction, no matter how haphazard my methods may have been.

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