Cake Fairy Tales

Life's better with cake and a sprinkle of fairy dust

If you want to be happy forever, make a garden


My basil seeds have sprouted! For weeks and weeks, nothing happened. Then today I picked up the container and saw a tiny two-leaved weed near the edge of the container. I was about to pluck it out and throw it away, and then I remembered my classmate, the one that had given me these seeds, had told me that the seedlings will seem like little weeds initially and I shouldn’t throw these out. Phew! I’ve got ONE seedling at last. Hopefully more will ensue with the heavy rains we’ve been experiencing here on the island.


The mature basil and mint plants have also been enjoying the extra heavy rainfall. My wee patch of borrowed greenery is now lush with new basil and mint leaves shooting up like nobody’s business just days after picking. The wondrous thing about fast-growing herbs like basil and mint is the more you harvest (correctly), the bushier and bigger (and more quickly) they grow.

Many people make the mistake of harvesting the leaves on the lower parts of the stem for fear of damaging the plant. In actual fact, this makes the stems grow spindly and weak. The right way to harvest basil and mint should be to cut off the top 1/3 of the stem just above a pair of leaves. The cut bit of stem shrivels up and in its place, two more stems branch out from the main stem. Over time, this gives you more and more basil to harvest.


The lavender has bloomed. It kind of blew my mind, because I’ve always thought of lavender as a temperate type of flower, so when the buds began to push out from the tips of the stems, I didn’t make much of them, until I saw the first tiny purple flowers today.


How exciting! Besides being a great mosquito repellent (you rub any part of the plant on your skin or leave cut stems around the house), lavender adds its lovely aroma to teas or pastries. Home-grown lavender macarons, anyone? In fact, with all the herbs sprouting in my garden, it’s high time to whip up some herb-infused bakes.


One last one for the road, the Mexican coriander or culantro has bloomed as well. The flowers are spiky little bastards that gave my fingers micro-cuts when I tried to pinch the flowering heads off. Flowering make the leaves of most herbs shrink and, in the case of culinary herbs like basil and coriander, lose their punchy flavours. I usually pinch off any flowers I see, but I decided to leave the flowering head on only one pot of coriander, wrapping it with a clean tea-bag, so that by the time the flowers mature and turn brown, I can easily harvest the seeds to be planted the next round.

“If you want to be happy for an hour, get drunk;

If you want to be happy for three days, get married;

If you want to be happy forever, make a garden.

-Chinese Proverb

3 comments on “If you want to be happy forever, make a garden

  1. Shelly Nielsen
    June 2, 2013

    I love your excitement over your herbs. Its amazing how those little flowers pack such a punch. Congrats on the basil sprout!

    • danayong
      June 3, 2013

      Thanks! More than 80% of the people on my little island live in high-rise apartments so I’m really lucky to have my little patch of greenery. Saw your post on tomatoes, hoping to start those very soon too. 🙂

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This entry was posted on June 1, 2013 by in Gardening and tagged , , , , .

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© Dana Yong and Out Of The Cake Box, [2014]. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (including photographs) without express and written permission from this blog's author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Out Of The Cake Box with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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