Sometimes gardening in a yard—whether it is a city plot or several acres—is overwhelming.

Don’t throw in the trowel just yet. Try a grow box.

Basil Box

Basil Box

Last summer, in the Ag Progress Days high tunnel, Master Gardeners grew gardens in EarthBoxes. Our beverage box garden included lemon verbena, stevia, and chocolate and pineapple mints. Our south-of-the-border box featured chili peppers, basil and cilantro. Our Scarborough Fair box was planted with parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Last summer and this, we offered classes on how to build your own self-contained growing system. Last winter, I babysat two of our EarthBoxes and was rewarded with fresh herbs all winter long.

I mentioned to Richard that I was going to be sad to see the Master Gardener EarthBoxes go. Before I knew it, a large package arrived in the driveway and I was the proud new owner of my very own EarthBox™ Gardening System. It comes ready to assemble, with container, potting mix, fertilizer, wheels, watering tube, screen, and instructions. The beauty of the box is that plants are bottom watered, and the water reservoir only needs to be refilled about once a week. Each EarthBox™, by the way, is made in the USA, and the company is headquartered in Lancaster, PA. Check it out at www.earthbox.com

As fate would have it, a mini-tornado blew the plastic off our Master Gardener high tunnel in February, so I am still babysitting the MG herb boxes. That gave me the luxury of making my EarthBoxes Basil Boxes, also known as portable pesto pocket gardens. One has a mix of Genovese and Salad Leaf basils. The other is dedicated to Salad Leaf basil, nothing else. I had the benefit of seeding the boxes long before I could plant outside and giving the basil babies a good start inside. When the weather warmed up, I moved the boxes outside. It wasn’t until yesterday that I set my horizons beyond pesto and realized I had a living, breathing, fragrant, self-contained, appetizer and cocktail oasis. Here’s the story:

We were invited to a party. The host and hostess supplied dinner and drinks. Guests were to bring appetizers or desserts. A lot of gardeners were invited to the party, so I wanted to bring something fresh, and easy. We found just the thing. We bought bamboo picks at Wegmans, as well as a container of mozzarella “pearls”. At Friday’s Farmers Market, we spotted multi-colored cherry tomatoes just harvested from a local a high tunnel. We slid a mozzarella pearl on the mini-skewer, then threaded one end of the Salad Leaf basil leaf, pierced a cherry tomato, wrapped the other end of the basil leaf up and looped it onto the pick, and then added another mozzarella pearl. They are lovely to look at—a simple salad on a stick.

Salad on a Stick

Salad on a Stick

With such easy preparation, we had time for an afternoon jaunt. We went to Tait Farm’s Summer Cocktails sampling with April Myers from Spat’s Café and Speakeasy in State College. I had never imbibed basil—until yesterday. April made MayBerry Cocktails and Sour Cherry Smash, both featuring basil as a muddling ingredient and even, as an infusion into vodka. I’m seeing my old friend basil in a whole new light. One basil box for pesto, the other for cocktails and salad sticks? Laurie Lynch

MayBerry Cocktail

½ oz. Tait Farm Strawberry Shrub

1 ½ oz. Basil-infused Vodka


Basil leaves


Club Soda

Muddle a strawberry and a basil leaf with the Strawberry Shrub. Add ice, vodka, and stir. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with club soda. Garnish with a strawberry and basil leaf.


Garden Poppy

For other recipes or to order Tait Farm Shrubs, check out www.taitfarmfoods.com

Garlic Mustard Update: I pulled as much as possible, and keep working at it. Just so you know we have a few pretty things growing, I took photo of a blooming poppy.

The Not-So Secret Garden Update: The firepit continues to be a go-to hotspot for evening conversation and contemplation.


Richard’s Firepit

Written on Slate: “I live in the garden. I just sleep in the house.”




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