No, this isn’t a story about Scarlet O’Hara, although some do say I have a flair for the dramatic. That’s a bit of a stretch though – it’s not drama that sparks me, it’s really the little things in life – things that might mean diddly-squat to others. For as long as I can remember, I’ve not only loved learning about things, but I’ve always had a need to know how things worked, why they worked that way – immersed in the whole process of “becoming.” So when I went to Wal-Mart last week and perused the clearance aisle, I found a small bag of organic dirt, a set of peat pots and I got inspired to start a garden.
The First Sign of Life – Day 1
The dirt here in this part of SC is mostly clay and you can grow stuff here, but it lacks the depth of flavor I enjoyed in NY and NJ – I would drive 800 miles for a Jersey tomato or a Long Island potato. That’s why I opted to start from seeds this time and to use organic soil. The peat pots are cool, you can just drop the whole pot into the ground or a pot of dirt when the plant is mature. The plan is to get some large planter pots and leave them on the porch to avoid subjecting my babies to all the wildlife around here.
The trees have been dropping pollen around here like green snow, and they’ve all bloomed practically overnight. These plants are no different. You’re supposed to start these pots 5 or 6 weeks in advance of planting and keep them indoors out of the Sun. Ours are resting right on the porch in full sun for at least half a day and it only took about two weeks from seed to sprout.
Day 2 – Unbelievable
I haven’t had a garden since I lived in Queens – yes, people in “the City”, at least some of them, have driveways and backyards just like everyone else. My backyard was mostly cement but there was one little corner of the property that was just dirt. Really good dirt, I might add. You wouldn’t think that a place in NYC would have such good dirt and some of the best water in the world, but it does. My plants were hearty and robust and I took great pleasure in returning from work each day and dragging out the hose to water my “babies.” It was my Zen zone after a trying day in the office – a little green corner in a big steel city. I grew stuff I liked, but I also grew stuff that I didn’t really eat, like Italian peppers. I just liked watching them grow and I liked when others got to enjoy them. I loved getting vegetables from the garden and making them into fresh meals like tomato slices with olive oil and fresh garlic. After an hour in the fridge, it was a cool and refreshing experience.
Today is the 3rd active growth day and with the rain we got last night – I was only half surprised when I saw how much everything had grown. We have two kinds of tomatoes – one called Rutgers which I’m hoping will taste like a Jersey tomato, but what’s in a name? We also have cucumber, and if you’ve ever grown cucumbers, then you know they grow like wild fire. They also do their best to strangle the surrounding plants, so we’re going to need a big pot for these guys to call their own. We actually have too many, so I’m thinking of asking the neighbor behind us if he needs starter plants – he’s been busy rototilling the land for a couple of weeks now. I can’t imagine what he grows in this non-dirt, but I’m anxious to see.
Day 3 – New Growth and Some Visitors
You can click on any of these pics to view them in their larger format. If you do so above, you’ll see a wandering caterpillar and a lady bug – I hope they don’t eat my crop.
Yesterday was a lucky day for me – not only did I revel in my ability to create life, I was also given a gift. A very illusive yellow butterfly taunts me daily – either hanging around when I don’t have my camera on me or being conspicuously absent when I do have my camera in hand. Yesterday though, he flew by me and sat in a nearby tree. The chances that I could hobble (still nursing that ankle) in the house and up the stairs and retrieve my point and shoot in time to catch this spectacle seemed pretty slim. But he was still there when I return. He sat there for quit a while and I felt like he might actually be posing for me. Thanks butterfly.
And let’s not forget my bromeliad ball. A couple of them died, but the rest are thriving. It’s hanging outside now, right next to the other plant so it has company.
And then it was night. And after a great dinner and a really good bottle of pinot, my roommates and I ended the day on the deck with the plants. Unfortunately, we shared the deck with thousands (and that’s not an exaggeration) of inch worms. I can’t wait until they’re all gone; their webs are everywhere and it’s pretty gross because they stick to you. But it’s a small price to pay for being outdoors in good weather with good friends. I’m a lucky girl.