i try it- vegetable growing bonanza!

14 07 2011

i’m not exactly the earth mother.  i like plastic, and pop culture, and mini skirts. i watch A LOT of tv. it’s not that i hate the outdoors, or that i shun the environment… hey, i have reusable bags somewhere in my apartment. but you’re probably not going to catch me dabbing patchouli all over my braless ass while i listen to jam bands. you’re certainly not going to hear me talk about feeling “close to the earth”.

again, it’s not that i’m anti gardening… it’s just that i’ve killed a good 80% of the plants i’ve ever owned (let’s face it, i’m on my 3rd set of ikea cactuses).  but for some reason (with full knowledge of my spotty history with plants), when the deadbeat dude who is in foreclosure in my condo association abandoned his raised bed in the backyard… I WAS ALL OVER IT. at least that’s what i told the condo association president.

while i was waiting for planting season, i had lengthy and involved fantasies about what gardening would be like. i started asking agriculturally inclined friends for tips about what to do.

“you’re gonna need some compost. like a lot of compost.”

“you should hit the deering oaks farmer’s market for seedlings.”

“don’t bother with carrots, they never work out.”

“10-10-10!”

i took all of this sage knowledge into my brain, and waited for it to germinate.

nothing.

may arrived, and it was time to weed the box (which hadn’t been touched in 2 years)! except that if you remember may at all, it RAINED CONSTANTLY… the seeds of gardening excitement that i had planted in my brain were slowly being drowned by inopportune weather and the slow creep of laziness and apathy.

come the end of june, i still hadn’t done jack, and the excitement i once felt for the project had dissipated considerably. and by considerably, i mean entirely. it seemed too late. maybe i would do it next year… sorry condo association president.

but then, a mere one week ago… i was walking the bay with a friend (and avid gardener). as i regaled her (bored her) with the details of my gardening debacle, she decided to spring into action on my behalf. before i knew it, we had visited 3 garden centers and had a car loaded with peat moss, organic compost, tomato cages, and some mysterious substance called “worm castings” (it’s what you think it is).

as it turns out, gardening is a lot of steps. we weeded, we mixed in peat moss and lime, we mixed in compost, and then there was that whole worm castings situation… she recommended a setup called square foot gardening, which played perfectly to my OCD desire for things to be symmetrical.

then, we planted. she had brought me (from the deering oaks farmer’s market, which is apparently as good as they say it is): a pumpkin, a cucumber, a red pepper, a green pepper, green basil, red basil, 2 big boy variety tomato plants, and a boatload of assorted seeds (green beans, pole beans, carrots, radishes, and 2 kinds of lettuce).

i will spare you the seed by seed details, but here are 5 exciting things that i learned in the process:

1. OH MY GOD EARWIGS! as in, be careful when you’re weeding, your newly inherited raised bed may in fact be full of earwigs.

2. garden gloves make you feel invincible. (i got these, in pink) along with the earwig situation, i also picked up a BEETLE GRUB as if it was nothing. grubs are pretty much my worst nightmare, so yeah, garden gloves are awesome.

3. don’t buy seeds from monstanto, or they will OWN YOU. (we used fedco)

4. we don’t need no stinking miracle grow. my friend is an organic gardener, and now so am i. it was a little gross touching worm poop and compost, but you get over it (garden gloves!). and now i can officially feel smug about my environmentalism.

5. it’s pretty much never to late in the season to plant something. even though i waited a full month and a half past optimum plantin’ time, my garden is still kicking ass. it’s only been a week, and i’ve already got a legion of bean sprouts, tiny tomatoes, and even some carrot greens (they said it couldn’t be done!). hopefully, with weekly check ins with my garden guru, this garden fairy tale will not morph into a horrific vegetable massacre.

as for price, the jury is still out. i was lucky to have the bed already built, and i paid about $80 for all the stuff it took to get the party started. will i get $80 worth of produce out of it? will the produce outweigh the hours of weeding and watering and posting photos on flickr? who cares. growing your own vegetables is fucking magic.

stay tuned for regular garden updates. i feel an all consuming obsession coming on.

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10 responses

18 07 2011
Shelly

Are you doing your own compost? The hubby and I are trying to (with a paint bucket with holes drilled in it in the corner of our porch) and so far it is going horribly awry. The bucket is full of rotten stuff that hasn’t turned into dirt yet and stinks up the porch every time we open it to put more compost in.
I think we need more heat, worms, water, or some mystical combination thereof.
But if you see a post for free half digested compost on craigslist, you’ll know we’ve thrown in the towel!

19 07 2011
bessmarvin

no. we just bought bags from the garden center. they were $2.99 each, so it’s hard for me to find the motivation to compost on my own because it seems kind of gross (you’re not really helping to sell it!). but the city of portland offers backyard composters, so perhaps sometime this fall i’ll give it a try. i know it’s the “right” thing to do, but my laziness and fear of garbage water may keep me away. we shall see…. (i’ll keep an eye out for your craigslist ad!) 😛

18 07 2011
nancy

80 bucks? No you won’t see that again this year, but next year, you won’t have to amend the soil. Seemed a bit of overkill to me. If you just turned the soil, or added a bit of compost, it would have been fine. I have lots growing everywhere. Have freinds save you seeds! Save your own. You will see, carrots come out like trolls unles the soil is really really loose. They grow on top, but…well you will see. You can get a city composter for like 40 bucks. All compost is worm poop. You need to get a book yo. lol I spent maybe 20 bucks on my garden this year.

19 07 2011
bessmarvin

a book would just collect dust on my shelf (I’M SO LAZY). it was worth the $80 just to have someone hold my hand and tell me what to do. since the bed hadn’t been weeded in years, the soil was kind of a mess. i’d definitely rather have overkill than underkill! but yeah, i think the city of portland offers composters at a decent rate. i should get one. i have no idea what you mean by “carrots come out like trolls”, but i’m scared. whatever the case, you can be sure that there will be hilarious pictures of the carrot disaster!

19 07 2011
jenericallyspeaking

I don’t think it was overkill considering how late in the season we started. Assuming that first frost is 10/15, we have exactly 90 days left to grow things…so it made sense to give the plants every possible advantage. If you compare the price of organic produce in a grocery store (3.99/lb for tomatoes, 5.99/lb for greens, etc.) I think this will break even this year. Nothing compares to having fresh lettuce from the garden, in any event! And hopefully you will have 1 or 2 pumpkins to show for it.

19 07 2011
tara

I love the Square Foot Gardening concept. We’ve got a tiny 3×15 plot in out backyard that’s just bursting with growing things. Including, unfortunately, weeds, but I try to stay on top of them …

1 08 2011
bessmarvin

so far the weed situation has been minimal, but i still don’t have total faith in my gardening abilities. stay tuned for the vegetable carnage!

22 07 2011
Winnie

Good for you. I kill everything I touch. I can’t even have a house plant. It’s a miracle my children are still growing…

1 08 2011
bessmarvin

every morning, i get up and look out the window to make sure that it hasn’t turned into a smoking crater. i have NO FAITH at all in my ability to garden.

8 08 2011
top 10 reasons why i suck at gardening. « broke 207

[…] i first started my garden about a month ago, i was on top of the world. things were growing! i was making life! i would eat […]

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