Posted by: beansai | March 23, 2009

All thumbs…

UPDATE: I’ve decided I have no thumbs (and neither does my dad). We’ve killed all our plants. We’re not sure what happened exactly…they were doing great and then suddenly started drooping and falling down. In a last ditch attempt we went ahead and planted them. Bad choice though, considering the temperature decided to take a turn downward. Perhaps we will try again when the weather decides to be a bit more consistent. :/

     I’ve never been much of a gardener. Growing up my brother was the one with green thumbs – everything from cherry tomatoes, grapes, beans and even marijuana (silly boy growing anything and everything just to see if he could). While I always enjoyed watching the cycle of growth and color as well as the picking and eating, it wasn’t my hobby, it was his. Our parents encouraged us to have separate hobbies to prevent tension – to make each kid feel special. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I really wanted to try starting my own garden. Unfortunately the place I was living had a very limited season (and I had very limited space in a small apartment backyard). I tried going for just a potted garden, but I had no clue what I was doing or how to properly maintain even that simple of a thing. Needless to say all my plants died and never returned to life after that first season with me. It’s a discouraging thing – watching plants turn brown and brittle.

     When it comes to gardening I need all the help I can get. So when I moved to another state in the Southwest with slightly more amiable gardening conditions, I decided to team up with my dad. He has also wanted to start up a garden, though slightly less ambitious than my ideas of a garden. I can’t help but have that magazine image of gardens in my head – the one where the vegetation is overflowing planters, boxes, and pots, bursting with colors from rich greens to reds and yellows and purples. The kind of garden that seems to sprout naturally with minimal cultivation and added resources. That’s the kind of garden I want.

     Of course I realize that any garden requires work to achieve that flawless, flowing, natural look. Our first course of action was to purchase our seeds: zucchini, cucumber, jalapeños, a variety of sweet peppers, cantaloupe, watermelon, a grape vine, green beans, fennel, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, a variety of flowers as well as some other stuff that I can’t recall at the moment. I went for a wider variety of edibles while my dad focused on a few of his favorites as well as more flowers.

     Once we selected the type of stuff that we wanted to grow we proceeded to use a seed starter kit that my dad had picked up last year. Again, I went for a variety of produce to start in the little pellets of peat, only planting two to three of each type of seed while my dad chose to start rows of the each seed on his half of the tray. It wasn’t long before the seeds germinated and began sprouting stalks and leaves.

     Eventually we decided that the plants were quickly outgrowing the small starter pellets (evidenced by the roots they were shooting out into neighboring pellets), but unfortunately we still hadn’t firmly decided how we were going to lay out our garden, nor did we have the materials to ground the plants yet. So we bought some of those peat pots and some potting soil. I moved the plants that were outgrowing the pellets into these pots while some were left behind to continue growing.

     This past weekend my dad and I worked outside all afternoon to finalize our plans for the garden. We picked a corner in the backyard that gets sufficient sunlight and can also be protected from the dogs. We decided to do a sort of raised bed in order to better contain the garden and minimize expenses on material – no need to waste soil and such. We went ahead and built up the frame of the bed with some scrap wood and fenced the area off.


     We still plan on getting some peat moss and then top soil to fill the bed with. We think that the dirt already in place at the bottom is decent enough to not need a deeper container. On top of the fenced off area for the edible stuff we also have a spot intended for flowers. It’s in the middle of the yard so I decided it was only safe for completely decorative plants. There was no way I would risk eating eating green beans that had been pissed on by a pup. My dad agreed with my whole-heartedly.

     We also have a small trellis planter that we are going to utilize for anything that vines, like the grape plant my dad picked out.

     That’s the current status of our gardening adventures. I’m hoping this next weekend will see the plants actually in the ground. We are feeling generally good about being past any frosts (though we could be thoroughly mistaken). I’ll continue to take pictures and post updates on the progress of our green thumbing.


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