I dated my last serious boyfriend for four and a half years. One of the perks of dating him was having access to the abundant harvest of herbs and vegetables from his dad’s backyard garden in the spring and summer. Every time I went to his house, I would be sent home with brown paper bags full of fresh tomatoes (to supplement the one measly little tomato plant in my own yard), cucumbers, the occasional squash, and tons of fresh basil and parsley. It was like having my own personal farmer’s market, except I didn’t have to pay for anything. I won’t lie; it was a pretty sweet deal. But then I broke up with him.

At the time I was, of course, thinking about the more important consequences of leaving such a long-term relationship. But once some time had gone by and we were both over that initial ‘how-do-we-even-proceed-with-life’ phase, I started to notice all the little things that were different. When summer rolled around this year, I realized that one of those things was my fresh herb situation. Sure, I could go to the grocery store and buy them, but I’d been spoiled with hand-picked, homegrown herbs for four summers. I wasn’t about to give it up that easily.

So I bought a basil plant. I was never any good at gardening—really, you should have seen the pathetic tomato plants—but I figured that basil in a pot would be fairly easy to maintain. Lo and behold, I was right: I haven’t managed to kill my basil plant yet! It’s one of my favorite herbs since it can be used in so many dishes, like delicious homemade pesto or even desserts like strawberry lemon-basil mousse. Call me boring, but I think my all-time favorite application of basil is a classic Caprese salad.

Fresh tomato, mozzarella & basil with olive oil, salt & pepper. So simple, but so good.

If you’re thinking about getting into home gardening, potted herbs are a great place to start. Even if you don’t have much of a green thumb, taking care of them is really, really simple. If you’re keeping them inside you can plant any time; if you want them outdoors, plant after the last spring frost. Water them a couple times a week, give them enough sunlight (at least 5 to 6 hours a day), and make sure your pots have adequate drainage. Otherwise, just leave them be and harvest as needed. Best of all, if you grow your own herbs, you’ll know that they’re 100 percent fresh and organic—I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve seen some pretty sorry looking herbs in my grocery store. Personally I’d rather have them at their peak, a.k.a. picked from a plant I’ve grown myself.

Hey ex-boyfriend, look at that. I can grow basil, too.

Click for more information on herb gardening.

Have you ever tried growing fresh herbs? Share your gardening tips!

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