Friday, April 27, 2012

The Garden: its history and future plans

I love gardening.
Earthworms are awesome!
I'm not sure if I'm good at it, but there's something wonderful about digging in the dirt, being warmed by the sunshine and getting fresh air. And if my plants grow, wonderful. If my own food comes as a result: SWEET.

My problem is that I've never had much of a chance at gardening. We live in an apartment that doesn't have a balcony, or even a front step. Our front door opens to a hallway. Blech. But I love plants. And being outside. And there's something about growing things that has drawn me in.

It started with mint. I wanted a pot of mint to keep on my windowsill and I'd water it and trim it and drink fresh mint tea any time I wanted.

Ah, another problem. Mint does not like pots. My mother-in-law says "You can't kill a mint." Oh yeah? I say, well I have, TWICE. 

The first spring we spent in our apartment, the associating apartment buildings had volunteers plant flowers in the beds around our buildings. People came out and beautified the lots of land around us with flowers and fresh mulch around the trees. But one little plot didn't get any attention. One right on the side of our building. It looked as if it had once had a couple trees or shrubs there, but they had been hacked down. Nothing but weeds and stray grass grew in this little patch.

So after a few months of watching it not be attended to, I decided I would use it. I took my third attempt at mint, already dying, down to the apartment yard. I pulled up a bunch of weeds and patchy grass so I had a clear area of dirt. I dug a hole and stuck my mint there. I poured water over it and walked away. I forgot about it. It was late autumn and I did not expect it to grow. I thought maybe something might happen in the spring, but I'd just have to wait to find out.

Then one day, the next spring, while walking passed, I saw it. It was flourishing! It may be possible to kill a mint, but bringing them back to life didn't seem too hard. I mean, when I had planted it, it had like two green leaves left on the stem. I was thrilled. In a few weeks more, I'd be harvesting my own mint regularly.

Ahem. Until the apartment association employed some landscapers to mow the lawn and whack the weeds and my poor little mint got whacked into oblivion.

Enter stones. In order to prevent such a thing from happening again, I gathered a bunch of smallish rocks to surround my plant. If it looked cared for and attended to, surely they would not attack it viciously with lawnscaping tools, right?

It worked! I was so pleased I planted oregano too, making sure to give it a rock boarder to protect it. And then I obtained some lemon balm and I planted that too. I had a regular little herb garden going.

As yet unattended to earlier this spring
Cleaned up and ready for planting
 My friend gave me some of her proliferating violet plants too, so now I have three little violet patches blooming. I was a little nervous at first, planting that first mint, that someone would come along and ask me what I was doing. I wondered if I'd get in trouble. But successive months passed and no one has said a peep. I haven't even seen any general notices put up in our hallways about "unauthorized planting in apartment yards."

Sadly, my violets are white

So, since my third year living here and growing invasive herbs has proven quite safe, I've decided to expand. It's still early and most vegetables (that I have access to, at least) won't grow until warmer weather, but I have some big plans. Tomatoes, peppers, squash!

Saved tomato seeds, not guts. On the right are pepper seeds
Okay, that's all. It's a small plot, remember?

Planted in egg shells, how clever

So far, the tomatoes, sprouted from seeds are doing all right. The peppers haven't peeked yet, and it's been almost a month since I planted them. They may not make a show. This is what you get from store-bought vegetable seeds, I guess. Who knows if the tomatoes will actually bear fruit. They're from a Mexican hothouse and not organically grown, and quite possibly irradiated. And I ate that. gross.

Go little tomato plants, go!
Here's hoping for fresh tomatoes this summer. If anything I know I'll have plenty of mint and oregano.

I'm hoping that I can use these apartment years to try my hand at gardening on a small scale, when I haven't put a lot into it and I don't have much to lose. Then maybe, if (when) I have a house with a big yard, I can have have a huge garden. I can feel okay buying seeds or little plants to put in and grow my own produce.

I keep thinking "be faithful in the small things." So that's just what I'll do. And when I have a chance, I know I'll be faithful in big things too.

I may even convince John that we can buy a cow! Maybe.

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