Maybe it’s my inner former 4-H-er trying to resurrect herself, or maybe it’s my attempt to combat the concrete jungle I live in, but I LOVE gardening. Not that I have much experience with it, beyond the petunias I managed to keep alive into July in Tucson one year (no easy task – nay – an almost impossible task), and the windowbox of herbs I carefully and lovingly cultivated for a few months in Croatia, stealing proud glances at (sometimes more like gazing intently, but who’s parsing it out?) anytime I was within eyeshot, until one day I was devastated to find the leaves stripped down to the stalks, the work of devilish little worms that made their way there for a momentary feast. My latest attempt at gardening has had its ups and downs, as I believe I was one of the first attempted horticulturists in history who managed to shrink- not kill, mind you, but shrink – nearly every plant I planted.
This is the fantastic planter my studly husband built me when I decided I was going to grow enough food to feed us so I would never have to buy vegetables again. I also decided that I was going to defy nature and plant whatever I felt like, regardless of the growing season, and have a bountiful harvest. It’s California, after all, the state with the perfect weather all year long, so what could possibly go wrong? Into this lovely planter I ambitiously planted sugar snap peas, strawberries, broccoli, rosemary, a tomato plant, thai basil, onion chives, swiss chard, and several lettuces. As you may be able to infer at this point, I sometimes err on the side of dreaming a bit too big.
Anyways, every single plant survived, but shrank in size over the several months I continued to dream big. Finally, reality hit and I realized that there was something quite wrong with my gardening techniques. I went to Home Depot and bought a soil amendment mix and some fertilizer, as well as a few new plants and some petunias (maybe they would grow really large and cover any other plants I managed to shrink), and dug up the entire box.
Flash forward a little over four weeks, and my garden is exploding. I’m pretty sure Blackie the tomato plant is going to take over our entire apartment complex before the end of the year, at the rate that she’s growing. All I can do is hope that I like the flavor of the black heirloom variety that I bought, since there are at least 50 blossoms already on it…perhaps I should have just chosen a regular variety. Again, impractability took over as I imagined creating strange, lovely seasonal meals around the few gnarly-looking tomatoes I might reap…
I took the above photos a few days ago, and today it’s even more effusive. While replanting the box, I decided to give the two Swiss chard plants a second chance at shrinking, but I am proud to say that they also apparently really like the new soil and fertilizer, and perhaps the season, and two giant leaves are currently making their home in the veggie drawer of my refrigerator, the first bounty of my harvest.
The strawberries have at least doubled in size, and put forth some new blossoms, but are currently being overtaken by Blackie, so who knows what’ll happen there.
All of the not-hard work of the past few weeks has led to my first real harvest: basil, onion chives, and Swiss chard. I see pesto and sauteed greens in our future this week.
So the moral of my way-longer-than-necessary post: buy the cheap $3 soil at Home Depot instead of the $10 organic potting mix at Anderson’s, and don’t attempt to be the first person in history to defy the seasons by planting whatever you want, whenever you want.