Gardening · Plants

Life’s getting hard in here, I do some gardening.

I’m weird about plants. I think I’ve always liked plants but it really feels like in the last 5 years I’ve been come a plant lady. That being said I’ve also realized in the past couple years how much I took my parents garden for granted. I have dreams about it, the endless rows of raised beds. A tomato bed, an herb bed, a leafy greens bed, the greenhouse for seedlings. Every year growing up I was allowed to pick as many plants as I wanted in the spring that I would lovingly plant in my parents garden and practically forget about for the entire summer (I probably watered them a total of 3 or 4 times a year, my mother definitely took over for me when I was slacking) and then midway through the summer my mother would send me out with a basket and some clippers to reap the fruit of whatever I’d chosen months before.

Now with 3/4s of a biology degree, several Botany classes, and internet access I melt at the thought of what I could do in those gardens. The rotated crops, the companion plants, ugh! I’m reduced to a 4×4 raised bed and by god am I grateful! After three years in apartments without even the outdoor patio for a potted plant the chance to plant something in the actual ground!!

My first purchase was some nasturtium seeds. While the thought of planting something that is basically a weed in California is a little hard to stomach, being in the Midwest I adore my nasturtiums. The rubbery, round leaves and elegant, fleshy stems. I can’t wait for the day I have yellow and orange trumpet shaped flowers to throw into a salad or garnish a dish. I’m looking forward to their peppery flavor and the pop of color they can give which just screams California summers to me.

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Next I bought basil, an essential. Basil is everything to me. I would put basil in every dish. I would live my entire life on Italian and Thai food, both of which are basil heavy. The simplicity of Italian dishes and the aromatic spice of Thai– I should have eaten before writing this! I planted at least a square 2 ft of basil seeds only to have them all wash into about a 6×12 inch area right up against my nasturtiums. The nasturtiums had about a two week head start on my tiny basil seedlings which are taking their sweet time to grow (my craving for pesto grows every day) so we’ll see how it goes when everything gets a little bigger.

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I planted an onion on a whim. It’s kind of an experiment I guess, I’ve grown carrots but that’s the extent of my experience with root crops. However I had an onion that had sprouted in the kitchen and I had a spare corner of the garden and dammit I had a will! The first problem that arose was the complete lack of depth in my sad little garden. The soil goes down maybe six inches at the most and then it’s just gravel. To be honest I wasn’t completely invested in this onion so I sort of half planted it and gave up to let in fend for itself.

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Next I headed off to lowes for a tomato plant, a stevia plant, spinach seeds, a zucchini plant, and a cucumber plant. I came home with spinach seeds and a zucchini and cucumber plants with the intention of investing in my stevia and brandywine in a few weeks when I had a bit more cash to spare. I planted the cucumber and zucchini pants without a problem (the shallow gravel problem is just in that corner??) I wanted to give the cucumber something to stand on and found some metal trellis like things under the porch. I’m pretty sure they came from signs, like political signs or a for rent sign, but they’re going to be little trellises for now.

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Then since I had the extra trellis I decided to try to train my zucchini to grow upwards as well as I’ve read its good for small gardens. We’ll see how that goes.

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Right before I was about to plant the spinach the neighbor kids came over to help. God only knows where the spinach seeds are planted. All I know is they did not plant a few seeds in the small area of the garden where I wanted them to plant it but instead planted the entire bag virtually everywhere. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have a lot of spinach all at once instead of several different rounds of spinach throughout he season. I’ve never grown spinach (I was originally going to go for kale but decided at the last minute that while my love for kale is endless I should cater more to the taste buds of others) and while I think I have some spinach sprouts already, for all I know it could just be grass. We’ll find out in a few weeks.

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Next came the spearmint seeds courtesy of my mother. I chose to plant these in a little planter I made from an Arizona can rather than in the garden for two reasons. The main being that spearmint (and most mints in general) have a habit of spreading like wildfire leaving you with a mint garden before you know it. And secondly, I’m not ready to give up my mint when we move in august. I’ll happily tote my mint to the new place and keep it inside during the winter so we can have mint tea and garnishes all year long!

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Finally I got my free wildflower seeds from cheerios. Out of fear of accidentally planting an invasive species I chose to do this one in a little planter as well, my idea originally being to plant two or three seeds in the tiny planter I have and then adding more as I have time until I have an entire little butterfly garden of cans. However the neighbors helped with this one as well and my entire bag of seeds ended up in one planter. I’m probably going to try to transplant the seedlings in a few days when I have time to make another planter.

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I’m overall hella excited every time I pass my little garden. I’ve been making up endless excuses to spend time in it (although with the endless weeds that keep sprouting up it’s not hard). I’ll keep you updated as it grows and you can expect some recipes as I start to get vegetables from it.

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Article title by Courtney Barnett (she is seriously so good) photos from my iPhone.

Marléna