This summer I’ve had my first real herb garden—planted in the ground rather than in a pot—and I don’t think there’s any going back. The folks at the San Francisco Chronicle’s food section might agree with me. Their downtown SF rooftop garden has been revitalized and is flourishing. A recent article told about the partnership they had established with a group of master gardeners, and the bountiful results.
The Food staff planted the garden four years ago as a test: Could we grow our own culinary garden and supply our test kitchen with the herbs? Could we, in a small way, contribute to the greening of the urban landscape? Could we show that any flat roof in our urban landscape could be functional? Could we learn more about cooking by working with fresh herbs?
After initial success, the garden begins to falter. “[T]hree years into the experiment, the biggest hurdle was something we couldn’t see,” writes Olivia Wu. “How would we improve and add to a soil that was held in a 30-inch-high container 30-feet above the ground? It was clear that the new plants we put in did not thrive. The soil was weak.”
After the ministrations of a group of volunteer gardeners (hey, can I get them to come to my house?), the garden was revived, inspiring Chron staffers to create dishes such as Lemon Verbena Crème Brûlée, Green Gazpacho with Sorrel & Lemon Verbena, and Shiso Sushi (recipes provided).
The Chronicle isn’t the only San Francisco institution turning its rooftop green. The restaurant Incanto, known for Executive Chef Chris Cosentino’s nose-to-tail approach to cooking, has also experimented with rooftop herbs. You can read about the adventures here.
Fresh herbs, bring ’em on.