We try it!

In Which I Take Up Gardening

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.Soft blue Hydrangeas

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. OncePurple pansy 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?

Photos: Getty

6 replies on “In Which I Take Up Gardening”

For the first time in my adult life, I have a yard – a real live yard, like with dirt! – and a huge back deck. I too grew up with gardening parents, and many years we’d be canning vegetables all August through October to deal with the excess. So it’s such a wonderful treat to be able to grow food for myself. Right now I have 6 little English pea plants that are going absolutely apeshit, rows upon rows of “sassy” lettuce mix, and various ornamental and (eventually) fruit bearing plants. It’s been so satisfying these past few sunny weeks to see my garden take off. Just yesterday as I was watering the front yard, a woman walking her dog stopped to effusively compliment how “eclectic” and lovely it looked. How cool is THAT?

I have a little north-facing waterlogged garden. We’ve never had the money or the motivation to deal with the drainage issues but I do have plants in containers on my patio.

Everything in our garden is edible – we have tomatoes, asian mixed lettuces, tomatoes, strawberries and various herbs. All the containers have my special homemade bunny defenders on them: big tubes of semi rigid plastic mesh that sit inside the rim of the containers.

I have chillis and sweet peppers growing on the windowsill in my kitchen but I’m not sure how productive they’re going to be as they don’t get much sun.

I’d never thought of using bunny poo as fertiliser but I’m definitely going to try it now, it must be much better for the environment than miracle grow, and I get tons of it for free, it never stops coming.

Gardening is good for the soul, and nothing smells as good as a freshly watered garden on a summer’s evening.

I can’t wait until I get an apartment where I can grow some plants. Right now, I just have 3 north-facing windows so the only thing I can keep alive is bamboo. Like you, I come from a family of gardeners; I miss having access to fresh fruits and veggies during the warm months.

P.S. Rabbit manure doesn’t need to be composted, you can sprinkle it around your plants right away. The nitrogen in bunny pellets is slowly released, so you don’t have to worry about it burning your plants.

I have a window ledge full of flowers, some of which I’ve kept alive for quite some time now! I had a herb garden last year, but (and this will sound ridiculous to probably pretty much everyone) but anyway, after raising these plants from seeds and watering and fertilizing and talking to them, I couldn’t tear off their leaves and eat them.

Yes, I’m an idiot, and its frequently better for the plants and all, but, um, I’m a city girl. I am new to/bad at these things.
So now I just have some grocery store orchids, which are thriving, and some random other plants.

I am not sure if this counts as success!

Wow! Your history sounds a lot like mine! My mother is also an AMAZING gardener, and I liked to help as a child; I even worked at a plant nursery all through high school and college. However, I soon discovered that I have a brown thumb.

Mr. Mona and I now rent a house and I have started a garden also this summer. So far I’ve ripped out all the daylillies (cuz they’re ugly), divided hostas, planted raspberry bushes, and seeded vegetables. If you post more about your progress I will definitely follow your progress in addition to sending you good gardening vibes!

(You know what else is compostable too? Guinea pig poop! We compost both pig and bunny poop.)

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