Herbaceous babes are GO!

Help, it turns out I can grow herbs.

Top L-R: coriander, dill, basil. Bottom L-R: chives, parsley, mint.

I don’t really know how it happened. I’m kidding, of course I know. I bought some herbs and I put them in pots and continued to water them and they’re all doing okay (except for Basil, but he’s got a story). So I guess what I mean to say is, this is unexpected because I’ve never kept herbs alive before. I’ve never kept much alive. I even managed to kill one of those lucky bamboo stalks that a coworker gave me a few years ago. Bamboo’s meant to be really hardy, right? Well, I killed it. I didn’t kill it on purpose, it just happened, because these things always happen to me.

So I’m actually at a bit of a loss with what to do with these herbs now that they’re thriving. I’ve never gotten past the “yay they’re planted I can’t wait until they thrive” stage to the “yay they’re thriving” stage. How do I look after thriving herbs!? Look at that parsley! That parsley is a monster and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with it! Do I prune it back? Do I lop that enormous stalk off and re-pot it to make another parsley bush? Does that work? When I prune, do I prune it from the base? How do I identify older leaves vs newer leaves? SEE? THOSE ARE JUST MY QUESTIONS ABOUT PARSLEY, I STILL HAVE FIVE OTHER HERBS!

How it all began.

I didn’t start from seeds, of course. Anyone whose thumbs are on the opposite side of the colour wheel to green isn’t that stupid. I started a little big, particularly with the parsley, but that was the only parsley left and I wanted parsley. It’s a good garnish, I guess? My herb choices can all be classified under the heading “I GUESS?”. No, that’s not entirely true. Here’s what I chose, and why I chose it.

Parsley: good garnish, I guess? (I wasn’t lying about this one)
Mint: COCKTAILS! Ginuary is on the horizon, after all. STAY ALIVE UNTIL JANUARY, MINT!
Basil: THE GOD OF HERBS
Coriander: people either love you or hate you and BABY I LOVE YOU
Chives: Good soup topping, I guess?
Dill: Good with fish, right?

Those were literally the thoughts I had concerning those herbs when I bought them. Help. Help me. I can’t eat enough fish for all this dill. I don’t even know what to do with coriander. It smells amazing and tastes good in the Thai takeaway I have always procured but I am such a novice in the kitchen, help me. For the love of herbs, help me. I wasn’t even sure the coriander (I call her Corrie (I actually address my plant by a given name, yes)) was going to survive because the first week or so after I planted them it was very windy, and nowhere outside is safe. It got to the point where everything else seemed to be tolerating it but the coriander was horizontal.

AS YOU CAN SEE, THAT’S NO LONGER A PROBLEM.

HELP

The coriander is a monster. Some of the leaves are starting to look different? I think it’s growing seeds? Coriander seeds are a thing, right? WHO KNEW I COULD GROW CORIANDER THIS WELL? (LOOK AT THAT FREAKING PARSLEY, SERIOUSLY.)

Basil’s story (he comes with a given name!) is that the first basil plant I bought was kinda stalky (you can see it in the second photo group in this post). It continued being stalky, and just kept climbing up and up and then flowered (I’ve since learnt enough to know to pinch those pretties off to keep the plant focused on making tasty leaves). I got frustrated with its stalkiness and so two Sundays ago I bought a shrubbier seedling from the farm gate market and did some repotting. Stalky still exists, but he’s planted into the retaining wall, and I’m trying to encourage my new little friend Basil to take wing. Why is it that the herb I could do the most with is the one that is being so difficult?

I’ve used almost all of the herbs so far, but in very rudimentary ways. I’ve thrown basil and parsley through some pasta dishes, and I’ve used the dill with (you’re never gonna guess) some baked salmon. I’ve occasionally plucked a mint leaf and carried it around and smiled and dreamed of all the uses I’m going to have for it in January. I haven’t used the chives yet because I haven’t made any soup, and that’s the only link my brain has between chives and food. I haven’t used the coriander yet because I just don’t know.

I don’t even know how long these last for. I just googled for the definition of “perennial” because I know that’s a word people use for plants (IT MEANS FOREVER! FOREVER HERBS!). Of course, I paid zero attention to what any of the labels for these herbs said because I guess I expected to have killed them by now. Sorry, herbs.

Shrubby Basil, aka “Sweety Baz”.

Help me, dear readers. Please share with me any ideas, or even specific recipes, for herb uses. Maybe even some suggestions for what herbs I should branch out to next, seeing as I seem to be A HERB-GROWING WIZARD. If you have any killer tips for looking after thriving herbs, those would also be welcomed.

Farm Gate Market and the Night Owl.

The Farm Gate market was on my to-do list before I got down here, for a few reasons. I wanted to stop buying so much from the Big Guys and try to get fresh things from the Little Guys, and the best way to do that seems to be at the farmers markets, where you can get the Little Guys’ fresh things from the Little Guys themselves. Also, who doesn’t love a market?

On my first Sunday here, my mum and I walked down to the corner of Elizabeth and Melville streets with our canvas shopping bags in hand. There was a slight issue with the plan in that without my things from Brisbane, my kitchen is currently very empty, so there’s not much to actually cook with. We ended up getting some delicious fresh dips, some honey (for my tea), and incredible sausage rolls for breakfast from the Urban Bounty stall.

I’ve been back each Sunday since, and this Sunday just gone was actually Farm Gate Market’s third birthday! Woo! Happy birthday, Market! What a beautiful day for it, too. My first market was overcast, my second market was smattered with rain, but my third market (and their third birthday) was a beautiful cool and sunny day.

Hobart's Farm Gate Markets

Madi rings the bell, Urban Bounty sells the sausage rolls.

One of my favourite things about Farm Gate is that it doesn’t officially kick off until 9am, when the bell is rung (top right photo!). You can still get a sneaky coffee from the Farm Gate stall, and it’s a very good coffee at that, but the rest of the stalls will still be setting up and be grumpy if you try to buy their things. Look, just enjoy your Sunday sleep-in and get there after 9am and you won’t have any problems.

So what you want to do next is get a sausage roll from Urban Bounty’s stall for breakfast, because the free-range pork, quince and apple sausage roll is one of the better things about my current life, and with UB’s own tomato relish, too? Just kill me, I’ve reached the pinnacle. There’s nothing much better than sitting down and scoffing my sausage roll and coffee before attacking the market stalls.

Farm Gate Markets

Farm Gate Market’s 3rd Birthday!

This dude in an apple suit was walking around on Sunday and cracking me up. I don’t know if it was a special birthday treat, because I’ve not seen ol’ apple suit before, but maybe that’s just been my timing. There are always some buskers at the market, here and there dotted around corners, but this Sunday’s were particularly good. It was so nice sitting down and enjoying a coffee and listening to some smooth jazz, baby.

I also had the pleasure of meeting another new friend! When I first got here, I looked through twitter to find some charming locals to follow. One of those charming locals was Snuva! She, her husband and their ridiculously cute baby have a standing Sunday breakfast date at the markets, so we arranged to meet up on Sunday to say hello in person. It was lovely to meet them and yet again I forgot to take any photos. I swear these people I’m meeting are real.

The final photo in the little collection above is a lovely segue into my other topic for this post, because I just so happened to ride my shiny new bicycle down to the markets on Sunday (where it was closely guarded by some gorgeous puppies). It was my first proper ride, apart from the short and terrifying ride home on it when I picked it up on Friday. You know the phrase, “it’s just like riding a bike”? It’s true. I hadn’t ridden a bike in years, and I was VERY nervous when I realised I’d actually have to ride my bike home! I ended up walking it a few blocks away from the shop (and the CBD) before hopping on and wobbling for a block or so before getting wigged out and walking it for another block or so, lather/rinse/repeat. Oh, Friday. You were such a weird day.

THE NIGHT OWL.

The Electra Night Owl. Ridiculous. I am delighted.

SUNDAY, though… Sunday was awesome. Look at this ridiculous bike. I spent a good couple of days tossing up whether to get a plain cruiser or this Electra fashion cruiser. I was concerned that maybe in a couple of years I’ll get sick of the design, or grow out of the owl print, or whatever. Clearly, in the end I got over those concerns, and I think that’s probably fair. I’m a bit twee, I think this bike and I are going to be very happy together.

I got the bike from Bike Ride on Liverpool street. They didn’t have any Electras in stock, but I’d been sent Bike Ride’s way after spotting one in the window of a store a couple of blocks away, and Mark was happy to take the time to go through Electra’s catalogue with me and answer all my stupid questions. The service was awesome enough for me to leave a glowing five-star review on Yelp.

So on Sunday I rode the Night Owl down to the Farm Gate Market and home again, with a basket laden with goodies, and as I pulled up in the driveway, I thought, my life is a bit wonderful right now.

Sunday morning bliss.

Am I right?