Monday, April 18, 2011

Gardens I Have Known: Part 4

At my last apartment I had a nice little garden.  This garden, I think, epitomises me as gardener right now.  It was poorly planned, badly timed, and improperly utilized but still beautiful, ambitious, resourceful, and a heck of a lot of fun.

We moved into the apartment at the very beginning of July.  This is not, of course, the right time to start a garden.  Still, I started working on it, claiming that I was just going to start preparing the soil.  I would weed it, turn it over, and maybe have it ready for some fall crops.  That is not what ended up happening.

About the same time I finished pulling out the mess of dead wildflowers, left by the previous tenant, some tomatoes, ready for transplant, appeared on the break room table at work.  Of course, I couldn't turn them down so I carried home one "Cuor Di Bue" and planted it.  But one tomato looked lonely so I searched for other plants to add in.

I acquired mint, thyme, oregano, garlic, and chives from my mother's garden.  Free first, cheap second, as the saying goes.  I swung by Lowe's for some soaker hose and just had to pick up some other plants while I was there.  I got two more tomatoes (Mr. Stripey and Patio), two chili peppers (NM Big Jim and Garden Salsa), Thai Basil, and Flat-leafed Parsley, and a Cucumber for a big pot.  That Saturday I could help adding a Fennel and a Rosemary from the farmers market.  In September I dug up another patch and planted Daylilies that I helped my mother divide out of her yard along with Cauliflower, Radishes, and as mix of Lettuce.

I laid down soaker hose and mulched it well with free grass clipping.  Tending this little garden was my favourite escape.  My neighbours all praised it and thought about digging up the lawn in front of their apartments too, though no one actually got around to it.

Ultimately, some of the plants did well and some did not.  The cucumber was productive.  The chili plants gave us more chili than I could really use.  I got a huge bowl of radishes that I offered to the neighbours.  The rosemary, on the other hand, dried up.  The parsley shrivelled up.  The cauliflower was devoured by caterpillars and the lettuce never did much of anything.  Worst of all, the tomatoes never ripened.  I picked a huge bowl of green tomato-marbles before frost to no avail.

Then, in January, we moved out.  What would have happened this year if it were still my garden and I could start on time?  Would the daylilies have established themselves?  Would the garlic have come up?  Could I have gotten tomatoes this year?

I gained alot in that garden.  I started a worm bin that will enrich my future gardens.  I began to learn how to make due with what I have available, both physically and time-wise.  I think in that garden I actually became a gardener.

So, where do I go from here?  Surely this isn't going to be the high point of my gardening experience.  I should just be the beginning.  The metaphorical plant have finally established themselves in the garden of my mind and now I should look forward to a long summer of lush growth.  That's what this blog is for, tracking the physical blooms of my mind-garden.  I can't wait till my mind sets fruit.


  1. I know how it is to be so enthused, it doesn't matter what time of year it is. I do some of my best gardening in July, when the temps are 100 degrees or more! :) Only gardeners would understand that. Thanks for coming by my blog and for leaving your comment.

  2. Hi Mud, I think all gardeners go through what you are going through, so don't be discouraged. There is always next year! One note, grass clippings should be composted with brown matter before using as mulch, otherwise they may deplete the soil of nitrogen while they rot as well as forming a heavy mat that encourages fungal diseases.

  3. That is very good to know, about the composting. I just figured they were free and would help keep the water in my soil.
    Live and learn, right?

  4. Once you start up again it will be as if nothing had changed. Enjoy...

  5. It sounds like it was a wonderful garden, with all the excitements and successes (and failures) one could hope for. I wonder how many gardens start with those famous last words, "I'm just going to prepare the soil..." I do hope you get to stay put for a while at some point. (In a place with room to garden, of course.)

  6. In the end all the hard hard work really worth every hour you spend it there after you see the fruits of your labour! Lovely garden tale, an inspiring one!

  7. Thanks guys! I've always been more attracted to traditional in-ground gardening (I think I like the idea that I'm leaving a lasting mark on the place by improving the soil) but writing these up has made me more seriously consider container gardening, at least till I have a permanent place. That might provide me with more immediate results and more flexibility in terms of taking my garden with me,