Once you plant seeds into the ground or nudge a new starter into the freshly dug dirt, there is a period of time where you eagerly wait as the starters take root and the seeds sprout. Then there is an even longer period of time when everything seems to be doing nothing.
I’m not a botanist and so I am not sure if this has anything to do with the cold ass weather we were having in Seattle this year or if this is just a standard lull in the plants growth. Either way, for weeks there was very little to report on and as I ran out of clever gardening titles and puns I decided to give the garden project a small break.
Then just as my garden began to turn from a barren patch of brown with little green hairs into a miniature jungle, life happened. I became busy and while I had time to tend to my budding garden I had little time to report on it.
If I thought I was excited when my basil sprouted and began to look suspiciously like two-leaved-clovers, then I was ecstatic when my beans began climbing their poles, when my lettuce began to look like lettuce, or when my carrots became expanding leafy poles.
A couple of weeks ago I began to enjoy the first fruits of my labors, red and green leaf lettuce as well as some smaller lettuce that looks like the weeds you find in grass. If it wasn’t obvious from my very first post about my garden, unless I have the little card that came with the plant I don’t have a clue as to the scientific names of all these plants.
Since it has been so long between garden posts I have decided to write a series of bullet points that will update different aspects of my garden project.
- Pests. I should have been prepared for them but wasn’t. My chinese cabbage was riddled with tiny slugs and nightmarish looking earwigs. Aphids dined on just about everything. After spending every rainy day plucking large slugs from the planter box of lettuce I eventually moved them up against the house. Then in a span of two short minutes a white bunny rabbit massacred my juvenile cucumbers. They had just sprouted, each with two fragile leaves, the rabbit ate the leaves and thus killed my entire crop. This is a valuable lesson to learn, one I will prepare better for next year, it did however cause me to reflect on truly organic farmers and how difficult it must be to raise crops without the aide of pesticides.
- Don’t plant your seeds too close together. I had expected nothing to grow and thus maximized my growing potential by planting all the seeds in each package. When they all sprouted I was in such a state of disbelief and excitement that I let them all grow naturally. When they were smaller it seemed that there was plenty of space, when they began to get bigger I realized that everything was vying for precious room and at best the strongest would survive at worst they would all suffocate. I have been fighting this battle with my smaller lettuce and broccoli, time will tell what survives and what dies.
- Water. Until I moved to Seattle water had always been the one utility that was covered by the building. I could freely use as much as I wanted without effecting my pocket book. I know I should have been concerned with water shortages (especially in Los Angeles) but when building managers were unconcerned with leaky faucets and running toilets I got the impression that water was a cheap commodity, one that practically begged to be waisted. I now pay for my own water usage and in an effort to keep my bill as low a possible I have begun to conserve water everywhere. You know that old saying “if it’s yellow let it mellow, if it’s brown flush it down” I’ve unofficially instituted this policy in my toilet. Watering a garden in the Spring was not an issue as it rained nearly every day, as summer began to arrive the clouds remained but the rained lessoned. I started by placing my watering can under the gutter drain, to collect rain water. Eventually I replaced it with a large garbage can the could be filled in about fifteen minutes during a good thunderstorm. This water is 100% free and perfectly usable.
- Flowers. I did plant a few flowers just for fun, my lilies have bloomed, my marigolds are close behind and a couple others have yet to develop buds. I did learn a valuable lesson about flowers however. Some plants will “go to seed” this happens when they flower (chives, basil, cilantro, cabbage). Once they go to seed the plant is done producing and the delicious leaves I had been enjoying will fade. This ruined my chinese cabbage which flowered and has since turned into some towering stalk with yellow flowers. In the other cases however I was able to simply snip off the flowers and thus keep them from going to seed (essentially keeping them young and productive).
Of everything I originally planted only the cucumbers and the chinese cabbage has been a failure. In many cases my produce looks better then that of my Guru’s. Most of my garden is still young, but having found the process so easy, I almost wish that I had planted more. I really shouldn’t count my… produce until it’s… grown however.