The Story Of The Basil And The Green Onion

Once upon a time there was a boy.

Actually, once upon a time there was me. I’m the boy. Why lie.

So this boy (which is still me) didn’t have a green thumb. The kid couldn’t grow a healthy plant if his life depended on it. Unfortunately, the plants lives depended on it and that didn’t seem to work out too well for them.

Many years ago he bought a cactus because he thought that might be a nice idea. Girls like plants, he liked girls. Hence, cactus. Blah blah blah, the cactus died. Unfortunately, it died even before our protagonist could get with any of those aforementioned girls. So, naturally, he bought another cactus. This one lived on for about a year. It even grew, like young plants tend to do. As a matter of fact, the cactus continued to live for another four years. Unfortunately, within that time it stopped growing. It was supposed to grow. The guy at the plant store said it would grow quite large and be very impressive to numerous types of lady friends. It didn’t.

I tried my best to get the cactus to sprout higher but nothing seemed to spark the little bugger to reach for the stars. I gave it more water, but it browned. So I gave it less water, and it browned again. I talked to it. I played music for it. We watched TV together. We sat and contemplated life. All in all, we built up quite a lovely, primarily asexual cohabitation – this cactus and me. Yet despite all of my watering love and care, the damn thing refused to grew.

And then one day it just keeled over and died. From loneliness, I think.

I tried to live without my cactus but it wasn’t easy. I felt a sense of lonesomeness in my home. There was an ear-shattering emptiness that screamed far beyond the dusty remains of my watering can. I roamed through plant stores to make myself feel more comfortable. I wore the color green on a regular basis. I ate more lettuce. But nothing I did could bring my cactus back (mostly because I had already thrown it away).

So I decided to do what any normal person does who has suffered a great loss – I covered it up with a pathetic replacement.

I decided to buy a fichus plant because, frankly, they look like big happy plants. I think of the fichus as the Snuffalupagus of plants – they’re big, droopy, lazy and somehow always elicit smiles. Plus (and this is a big plus), they are supposed to be easy to grow. That’s what they told me at the plant store. This is the easiest thing to grow, the plant seller guy said, giving me the once over as if he knew that I killed a cactus. As if I had a scarlet C on my chest. As if I were registered in the national database of convicted cactus killers. Just water it every now and then and it’ll be happy, he mumbled and turned away.

Two months later the fichus died.

Perhaps it was from over-watering, I don’t really know. I don’t much like the fichus plant anymore.

So I gave up on plants.

A few years later I bought a goldfish. This was partly as a means to help me feel more like a fish in the water when I was swimming, but mostly because I saw a TV show that had a classic goldfish in a classic goldfish bowl and it looked really cool. Chicks dig fish.

After two weeks, the goldfish died.

I went back to the store and bought an air filter for the bowl because, I realized, it seems all aquariums have air filters. Then I brought home another goldfish. That one lasted three weeks. Apparently goldfish don’t need air filters. They neglected to tell me that.

I felt like a murderer. I expected angry PETA people to show up at my door at any moment. As if being a convicted cactus killer wasn’t enough, now I had goldfish genocide on my rap sheet.

I couldn’t handle the pressure so I gave the goldfish bowl to the Salvation Army.

Fast forward a couple more years and here we are, you and me talking to each other.

A few months ago I went to the hardware-slash-lumber-slash-gardening-slash-miscellaneous-household-crap store to buy something or other for my girlfriend. For some silly reason I walked out of the store with two packets of seeds. I don’t really know why I bought the seeds. I’m not sure what came over me, it’s all kind of a blur. But when I got back to my car I looked in the bag and saw one packet of basil seeds and another of green onions. Somewhere within the past 10 minutes I had completely forgotten that I couldn’t even keep a cactus alive and consequently decided to grow my own herbs. I believe this is what they call a “momentary lapse of reason.”

Well, with herb seeds in hand, I couldn’t just throw them away. That would be admitting my failure. That would be avoiding the truth of my life. No, no, my friend… it’s time to face my darkest greenest fears. I went home, took my two empty plant pots, laid down some sod and put the gosh darn seeds right in ‘em.

Then I waited.

I checked on the seeds fairly frequently. Pretty much every 15 minutes.


Those 15 minutes extended into hours which stretched into days. All the while I watered those seeds like they told me to on the little packets. Every morning I’d jump out of bed and rush into my kitchen to see if the seeds had peeked their little green heads above the dirt. They didn’t. And every day my hope deflated a bit more. I suppose I recognized somewhere in the back of my mind that it’ll never happen. They’ll never grow. I’m a green failure.

You know the old saying about watching grass grow and watching water boil and watching paint dry? After about 1 week I realized that I was just watching dirt sit. Every moment of every day when I’d look into the pots, nothing but dirt. And every day I’d be there watering the dirt until it got to the point where I thought I was being punk’d. How long would I keep watering dirt until I gave in to my ineptitude?

Truth be told, I felt like I was getting very good at watering dirt. The water spread evenly, I kept a regular schedule, I drained appropriately – all the qualities you need in a competent dirt waterer.

But a couple of days longer and my questions started nagging deeper. I thought I might be watering the dirt too much. So I went online and read a little bit about growing basil and green onions. It said to keep the dirt moist. So I resumed my regular dirt watering.

Another two days went by. Then three. Four.

Just dirt.

But I never gave up. Call me persistent, call me dedicated, call me stupid, but I realized that I was ready to water that dirt every day for a year if that’s what it took.

Then it happened. It was an early morning and I was getting ready to head out on a bike ride. Naturally, I walked over to water my dirt. And as the water was pouring into the pots I noticed, from the corner of my tired eyes, a wee piece of green peeking up from the brown sod.

Holy Cow! I yelled to nobody in particular as I put my nose closer to the pile of dirt, nearly snorting in a sinus-load. Yes, it is true. A wee little bit of green had popped its teeny head out to say hello. A baby plant had sprung from the ashes and begun to sprout its wings. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the dawning of the basil.

I was ecstatic. Elated. Enthralled. I wanted to run around and shove cigars into the mouths of strangers. I have grown basil! I have grown basil!!

The next day a few more basil leaves poked their heads out of the dirt and by the third day there were seven or eight little basil hatchlings sprouting into life. My heart jumped with joy.

I nurtured and cared for those basil leaves like I’d never done with any plant before. And somewhere around day four or five, as I was bottle feeding them their nutrition, I noticed a few stems of green emerging from the other pot. Goodness gracious, dear me, blow me over with a snowplow. My green onion was growing!

Over the course of the past few months, I’ve suddenly revitalized those warm feelings I had for my long lost cactus. Every day I look at my pots of basil (now over 1 foot high), green onions, rosemary, cilantro and spearmint and I smile from the depths of my heart.

I check my grow light and the angle of the sun to make sure everybody is getting enough brightness. I say a little “hello” and a proud “good morning”. I dip in the organic plant food and water so preciously, from the camel-like rosemary to the water-guzzling mint.

I stand tall and proud with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Yes, they are only a few easy-to-grow herbs, but let’s remember, I am a reformed cactus killer. Today, I am a new man. I have faced my fears and conquered. I have not run from my failures but battled them head on. I have not hid from the monster that lurks in the darkest corner of our souls but, rather, invited him over for tea and crumpets. Basil crumpets and mint tea.

Fresh. From my garden.

Re: The Story Of The Basil And The Green Onion

What a great story. Was it painful to tear the leaves from their stems to use them in food? You must have been so attached to them!

Re: The Story Of The Basil And The Green Onion

Funny you mention that… it is STILL painful! it feels like chopping the arms off my children. i think i need plant therapy.

Re: The Story Of The Basil And The Green Onion

Love the story. Made me laugh out loud.

Re: The Story Of The Basil And The Green Onion