Sunday, April 26, 2009

Urban Garden

I think I am at heart a city girl.  Even living in Xiamen, a city of 2.5 million, feels a bit provincial to me.  I used to live in Shanghai and I didn't appreciate how cosmopolitan it was until I moved to Xiamen, where the local Carrefour runs out of cheese AND butter at the SAME TIME, and where you can't find western clothing to save your life.  That said, I like Xiamen - the streets are cleaner, the air is clearer, and the landscape is greener than almost any other city in China that I have seen, and it's actually, for a city of this size, very internationally aware and expat friendly.  I've just been spoiled by living in Toronto and then Shanghai.

Now that I am, for the moment, a full-time wife, living in a laid-back mid-size city, I have time to try things that I never did in my previous incarnation as a big city girl.  Growing an herb garden, for instance.  The only thing I've ever managed to grow was an african violet...for a while.  I have even been known to kill cacti.  But under the influence of Chris, who likes plants and animals and any kind of do-it-yourself project, I have begun growing a small collection of herbs in pots on my windowsill.  I have a mint plant that our friends gave us as a gift and that I have somehow managed not to kill yet, and a few basil and cilantro plants that we grew from seed.  They are not yet big enough to harvest, but dreams of unlimited fresh pesto and salsa are already blooming in our heads.  Of course, you can buy cilantro at the market.  But the pleasure of cooking something you've grown yourself...well I haven't yet done it, but I imagine it must be wonderful.

Finding the materials wasn't difficult.  We just went to the plant market and bought a bunch of pots and soil, and we are using coffee grounds as fertilizer.  Actually, we're using ground coffee.  I bought a box in Vietnam and it tastes HORRIBLE.  Which is surprising because I had a lot of good coffee in Vietnam.  I should have been smart and asked at the coffee shops which brand they use.  Anyway at least it's being put to use.

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