Friday, April 27, 2012

Gardening 101

Confession: I can cook, but in all my life I’ve never grown a vegetable. An herb garden? But once, and only for two months before my landlord mistook my potted rooftop plants for that other kind of herb. In truth, my neighbor was growing pot in the stairwell beneath his gargantuan cacti that I guess he thought camouflaged his weed. Not so much. One “what’s the opposite of serendipitous?” morning, I ascended to my rooftop garden (lugging a not light bag of potting soil I had schlepped for not a short amount of city blocks–and a bottle of organic worm poop, ew!) to find all my plants, pots and his pot, gone. Trashed.

So it wasn’t until I moved away to Boston before I dared tread down that road again. And this time, I need not ascend six flights to water my seeds. One of the many blessings in my Boston home is the courtyard garden out back and the chance it gives me to learn to grow herbs, vegetables, roses and green thumbs. About a month ago, Mr. Mix and I started our journey digging in dirt to clear the garden beds from a plethora of vines that had clogged our land and to pull up ugly bushes that were commandeering precious garden space. After that, I bought organic soil, compost and seed, and we began tilling our terra firma. With the heft of the global warming heatwave upon us, we decided to skip what seemed like a complicated, geeky and assuredly pivotal step in starting our seeds indoors under heat lamps, and just went ahead and planted them right smack dab in the dirt outside.

Since then (of course) the evening weather has dipped below freezing a few times; April has brought its promised showers for days on end, and local critters have begun digging up my $30 a pack strawberry seeds. Fearing a repeat episode from my last adventure tending the urban soil, I’ve decided to share my story and slideshow to ask for advice from any gardeners out there with far greener thumbs than I. I’ve been told to sprinkle chili flakes and toss orange peels into my flower beds. I’ve been instructed to purchase chicken wire and organic pepper spray (who knew such a thing existed?). If worse comes to worse, by sage example from Bill Murray in Caddyshack, I’ll hire a hit man.

The simple truth is, I’m ecstatic my seeds have begun to sprout. I hope most can be salvaged from the critters’ crafty ways. I hope the chili-orange rub works wonders and that all my veggies don’t end up tasting like oddly tropical citrus salsa. I hope I don’t have to resort to wired fences, scary sprays or superior firepower, and that I can make but one salad from my first harvest sometime this spring. If anyone out there has suggestions, please leave comments below and point me in the right direction. Did I scatter the rub the right way? How do I know what’s a weed and what’s a seed? I suppose I ought to bring in that pot of catnip, eh?

I promise to keep you updated as our garden (fingers crossed) grows. Enjoy the show and Eat it Up!

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