Thursday, June 23, 2011

On the Contrary, My Garden Tends to Not Grow At All

I am not the best gardener. True, I have never had a proper plot to garden, and people have told me patio gardening in pots is particularly picky. However, I have managed to kill herbs the last 3 times I tried to grow them. I think that goes beyond the difficulties of patio gardens and is firmly in the realm of "maybe the problem in this relationship is ME".

Despite my past failures, I was determined to make one last go of it. We live in a garden level apartment, which means we're half underground. Our living room window has a wooden box around it where the ground has been dug out so that we can have a regular sized window despite the whole being halfway underground thing. It gets 6 hours a day of full sun, making it the perfect spot for plants in pots. As a bonus, our dining room table is right next to it, so any little garden would be a nice view. Weekend before last we headed to the farmers' market and picked up locally grown, organic tomato and herb starts in coconut fiber planters for $3 each. I was hoping that the universe would smile benevolently on my eco-friendly hippie virtue- no plastic, Universe!- and bless my garden with good luck. I peppered the farmer with all sorts of questions, telling her that if these plants only knew how terrible I was at gardening they would be crossing their little plant fingers that they would NOT be coming home with me.

We left with two starts each of rosemary and basil, and one each of apple mint and pineapple sage. We also chose two heirloom tomato plants- Purple Prudens and Boxcar Willy. I planted them just as she suggested- a bit of pebbles in the bottom for drainage, organic soil, plant it coconut fiber pot and all- and then I gave them all a hearty shake of organic plant food. Since then I've been watering them and anxiously waiting for them to die... but they haven't! And more than that, they're actually thriving. I buried a trailing vine of the apple mint, because the farmer said that it would sprout up a new plant- and it totally did. The pineapple sage has increased its leaves by 50%, and the basil is starting to fill out with new shoots as well. I don't have any blooms on the tomato plants yet, but the important thing is they're not dead, which bodes well for future bloom possibilities.

This is the day I planted them. They're probably whispering get away plans to themselves at this point.

 Two weeks later, they look a bit more at ease.
 This basil needs to quadruple in size. I need to make fresh pesto every night of the week. And basil on fresh strawberries need to happen often as well.
 The apple mint is bumpin'. I've stripped a few leaves off already to put in ice water.
 Pineapple sage- it truly does have a pineapple smell to it. See all those little shoots along the stem? Surprisingly, that all happened on my watch. Maybe my thumbs aren't coal black after all!
 The true test will be if these tomato plants produce anything. Even if it's just one tomato, I'll be pleased.
 Here's the new baby apple mint shoot I mentioned. I still can't believe it worked. I'm like a 4 year old in awe of bean sprouts in a plastic baggie.
 This is the view from our dining room table. Grow little ones, grow!
 All of this success is making me look forward to the day when we can have a full on garden. Oh, and I didn't just have success with herbs and vegetables! I almost forgot...

The day that we picked up these guys, we got the pots from a local nursery. There had been some terrible hail, so they were selling four packs of raggedy, hail damaged petunias for $1 each. We got two 4 packs of pitiful petunias. I took them home and stripped away the bruised flowers and dead leaves, pruned back the snapped stems, and planted them in fresh soil with plant food. Two weeks later, they're blooming like crazy and they look great.

That guy on the right looks rough, but trust me, he looked way worse 2 weeks ago. I'm hoping that things keep going well. By this point most of my plants were long dead, so I think we've gotten through the touch and go first few days. I'm looking forward to picking tomatoes in about a month or two!


  1. They look really nice! I think the key is water, most people tend to over water things hoping the grow faster. I'm liking the new place, looks nice! Also congrats on the smartphones... yes from a Apple worshiper lol


  2. Thanks! I do think I was off on the watering in the past. This time, I tried to make sure that everything was in order- from the pot size to plant food to the sunlight. And it's working!

    The smart phones are still an adjustment, but I am liking mine more and more each day as I get used to using something that is more complicated than my laptop, haha.