Saturday, May 29, 2010

Garden: Day 1

I've caught the gardening bug big time this summer!

As usual, it started with a basil plant I picked up at the supermarket. As I'm sure many of you know, I have a long history of killing basil plants. I think last summer alone, I killed four. So when I saw one at the supermarket about a month ago, I figured it's never too soon to start trying again. So I brought it home and through some miracle, managed to keep it alive!

John asked me if I wanted to go putter around Chapters with him last weekend and I remembered seeing little grow-your-own sprout kits there, so I tagged along. Next to the kits I found a book called You Grow Girl that had cute pictures and looked beginner-friendly so I picked up both since I had a gift card.

Much like the quilt I made a few months ago, once I start reading about a new hobby, I get a bit obsessive. By the end of the week I had finished the book, mapped out how my shiny new container garden was going to look and researched several plants and the best way to grow them online (youtube has some great container gardening videos). It makes John giggle when I get like this because I'm so predictable when I get a new hobby. I'm unstoppable.

So this morning we rented a car for a couple of hours and hit the garden center. We started with Wal-mart for cheap pots, soil and fertilizer and then went to two nurseries for the plants. We got home and made lunch and then I went straight to work setting up the garden.

It was a lot of work and I made a huge mess of dirt everywhere, but I found it really enjoyable and I felt like I was making progress quickly. I sowed some seeds, transplanted some starter plants and repotted all of my house plants because I thought some of them could use new nutrient-rich soil (I used Miracle-Gro Premium potting soil).

I've decided to take pictures of everything every couple of weeks to keep a journal of the garden this summer in the hopes of being able to look back on it in the fall and figure out ways to improve it for next year. So, although I planted a few of the plants a couple of weeks ago, I'm considering today Day 1 since that's when I planted the majority of them.

Let's start with the herbs!

First up: The basil that started it all. It still lives indoors next to the window because I find it so sensitive to water levels, I'm afraid it will dry out too quickly in direct sun.

Then we have my favorite herb of all, Thai basil. It lives with some tiny pepper plants. I just moved them outside three days ago and the basil loves it but the peppers hate it. I'm not sure they're going to survive.
Next up is greek oregano. I got four tiny plants and spread them out in a pretty pink planter I rescued from the lobby downstairs where people abandon stuff they don't want. It has no drainage holes, so used a layer of acetate (left over from when I had to make that house shaped cookie cutter) with holes in it to create drainage inside the pot.
Next up: The Herbal Teas

I can't wait to make my own herbal teas!

I couldn't find a peppermint plant, so instead I got spearmint. I think it will still be delicious.
And this is a magical hybrid plant called chocolate mint. I'm very interested to find out if that's how it actually tastes.
I've heard lemon verbena makes a lovely tea, so I picked up two of those (since each one was just a couple of stalks). Apparently it can grow to 6 feet tall but I don't think that's going to happen in this little pot.
And this is too cool: Stevia!! I've heard it's really tricky to grow but if I can pull it off I'll have a natural sweetener that is supposedly sweeter than sugar but with very few calories.
That's it for the herbs! On to the Fruits!

Guess what I found? A new banana tree!! I'm super happy about this, my life has been noticeably void of banana trees since my last one died over the winter. It's in sad shape now, but I think I can nurse it back to health. Banana trees with ratty leaves remind me of stray cats with torn ears. They just need a little love.
In sadder news, the cherry tomato plant I bought about a month ago is on its last legs. I had to cut off almost all of its leaves as they were all dead.
Check out my strawberry patch! I have three plants and they are supposed to provide continuous fruit right up to September. The one on the left has a couple of sad leaves but hopefully it will be healthy in no time.
Is coffee a fruit? It grows berries so I guess so. I've had this plant since I was in Halifax. I think it's about two and a half now. I'm told that after three years I should start to see berries. Some day I hope to be able to brew a cup of home grown coffee for John. Pipe dream? Maybe.
And Erin, this one is for you. Here's how my lemon tree is looking. It has only grown one leaf since I left Halifax, but hopefully today's repotting will change that. I'm still 14 years away from fresh lemons.
And our last category: Veggies

These are the broccoli sprouts I planted last week. The instructions said to just sprinkle the seeds on the soil but it seems to me the only ones that sprouted are the ones that were actually buried so I may put a layer of soil on top of them if they don't sprout soon. Supposedly the go from seeds to snacks in ten days.

The next pictures are pretty boring because I just planted the seeds today. The saran wrap is to keep the moisture in until the seeds germinate.

Green onions. Yes that is a foil cake pan, I ran out of pots. 60 to 75 days until maturity.
Gold Rush Zuchinni. I planted two rows of them. According to the packet, they take exactly 49 days. I find it impossible to believe they can predict it that accurately.
And the veggies I am most excited about: a mesclun greens garden. I hope to have at least nine plants grow to maturity (40 to 65 days). I used McKenzie seed tape so I actually have no idea what kinds of plants are in there.

So that's it for Day 1! We'll see how the next few weeks go and if they go well I'll probably plant a few more. Actually if they all die I'd probably plant more too. So there will probably be more planting! I will post updates over the summer, wish me luck!!