I was raised by a gardening expert. I grew up eating fresh basil, tomatoes, corn, and herbs. I learned at a young age that worms were weird looking, but they were harmless to people and in fact very helpful to a garden. The respect I had for worms’ place in the world bordered on fondness. (I think this is why, to this day, I rescue worms from the sidewalk on summer days after heavy rains.)
My family moved north when I was 11. I watched my mom bid adieu to her vegetable garden and little organized rows of flowers and bushes on our postage-stamp yard, only to say hello to a woodsy, hilly, deer-magnet plot of land that she made her own. She learned what flowers were like catnip to deer (answer: most of them) and how to keep a garden growing on a nearly 90-degree incline.
Then I moved away and became a city dweller. No yard. No porch. Not even a balcony. Here and there I’d try raising a little potted plant on the windowsill, only to watch it die from smothering or neglect. I missed watching my mom garden, and while I had fancied myself an excellent “helper” as a kid, I had no illusions that I was destined to be a great gardener as well.
But in my heart of hearts, I’ve always known that I wanted to have my own little piece of dirt to work with, just to see what I could do with it. Fortunately, I now kind of do! I rent an apartment in a converted single-family row house and am lucky enough to have the ground floor unit. (Unlucky in a zombie invasion, true, but lucky in other ways.) That means the tiny front and back yards (both completely paved, of course) are “mine,” and I’m going to spend the spring and summer squeezing every bit of gardeny goodness out of it that I can.
When the spouse and I moved to this apartment late last summer, I started growing basil from a little seedling starter kit I got online. I also snatched up a weird pink-and-green spotted plant while we were in Home Depot picking up necessities. Not only did those plants grow by leaps and bounds in the waning summer weeks, but they managed to not die during the miserable, dark, snowy winter. As I watched them start growing again these last few weeks, I realized that I might actually be good at this. Maybe it’s time to try my hand with some real outdoor gardening.
So, I’m ready. I’ve got two flower boxes just waiting to be filled, and my two trusty potted plants have made the move outside quite nicely. I think it’s safe to say that soon they’ll have more company.
In truth, I have very little idea what I’m doing. But so far what I like about gardening is that it’s fairly intuitive, if you slow down and really think about what you’re doing. Once you know the signs, it’s easy to tell whether you’re over- or under-watering your plants (answer: probably over-watering). And, unlike many things in life, there are some nice simple rules to follow that will lead to success: water, sunlight, pruning – that’s about it.
I’ll probably be writing a few more posts as the summer progresses, and we’ll see if I’m this chirpy about it by, say, August. But I’m excited to tackle this project; I keep thinking of new things to add. For example, I might start composting! (Because guess what’s compostable? Bunny poop.)
So who else has had any success with gardening?