The Garden: Week One

Tomorrow, my co-workers are having a Superbowl party.  I’m bringing dessert.  So, at the moment there are chocolate chip cookies (thanks to this recipe) cooling in the kitchen and the apartment smells delicious.  I’m also planning on making some chocolate-covered strawberries that look like footballs (thanks to Pinterest).  Can I just say that being done with school and having free time to garden, bake, blog, and read is so, so nice.  Seriously, I come home from work and ask myself, “What should I do this evening?” and I wake up on Saturday morning and think, “What shall I do today?”  So fun.  Anyway, while the cookies are cooling, I thought I’d write some more about my little garden.

When I got home from work on Monday, I was ready with all of my supplies, including:

  • Peat pots (a big one, a few medium ones, and a few small ones)
  • Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix , dampened by mixing it in a bowl with water
  • Clear 1-gallon, open-mouth baggies, with twist-ties
  • Popsicle sticks
  • 3 large, round plastic pot liners
  • A spray bottle filled with water
  • Seeds

I’d also done some research about when each type of seed could be planted and if it could be started indoors.  I based most of my dates on the Travis County Planting Schedule and some advice from a co-worker that the last freeze date in our area was usually in the end of February.  The only seed I had that could be started outside immediately was the carrot seed.  Several others, though, could be started indoors now and moved outside the first of March.

For those that could be sown now, I filled a peat pot with dampened soil and placed one (or occasionally two) seeds on top of the soil.  For the Dahlia, I actually sowed four or five seeds in a single pot.  Then I sprinkled more soil on top of the seeds, noting the recommended sowing depth of each type.  Using the spray bottle, I sprayed each pot with water to ensure that the soil was nice and moist, and then wrote the seed type and the date on a popsicle stick, which was stuck in the soil.  Each peat pot was then put into a baggie and sealed off using a twist tie.  The wrapped-up pots were placed in the pot-liners and then they all went on top of the refrigerator to germinate.  I believe the top of the fridge is recommended because it’s usually nice and warm.  The only exception was the carrot seeds, which I sowed, but did not wrap; that pot went straight outside and is sitting on the patio table.  I used the largest peat pot for the pink banana seeds, because my understanding is that it becomes a small tree, and I wanted to give it plenty of room.

Here is what I planted and where it is so far (5 days from sowing):

  • Cucumber (2 pots, 1 seed each) – One of the cucumber pots sprouted after about 3 days.  It’s currently a thin, wiry little thing that’s several inches high.  The second cucumber pot is just now sprouting at about 5 days.
  • Dahila (1 pot, 4 seeds) – These were my only flower seeds, and they took off very quickly.  There are currently 3 tall sprouts and another sprout that is ready to pop up.
  • Zucchini (3 pots, 1 seed each) – I planted three pots of zucchini.  One has a nice, large sprout that grew so quickly, the root started growing through the pot around 3 or 4 days in.  Another zucchini is about ready to come up, and the third hasn’t shown any green yet.
  • Green beans (2 pots, 1 seed each) – One green bean pot has started popping up, but the other has yet to show itself.
  • Eggplant (1 pot, 2 seeds) – The eggplant hasn’t shown any signs of life yet.  Hopefully it just takes longer to germinate.
  • Pink banana (1 pot, 2 seeds) – Still waiting on this one as well, but the packet warned that it could take several weeks to sprout.
  • Carrot (1 pot, 5-6 seeds) – No signs from the carrot yet.

Once the sprouts emerged, I removed the pots from the plastic wrapping and put them back in one of the plastic pot-liners.  That pot-liner went on the baker’s rack that sits in our dining room.  Our apartment doesn’t get much sunlight at all, so I bought an 18″ fluorescent shop light at Home Depot for $10 and put it above the plants.  I turn it on each morning and turn it off at night.  I also spray the pots one or two times a day with water.  I have to keep reminding myself that the carrot pot is outside and needs to be watered as well.

So that’s where we are so far.  Here’s a little visual.  The top left shows the pots on top of the fridge, the top right shows the sprouted pots under the light, the bottom left is one of the zucchini sprouts, and the bottom right shows the sprouts 4 days in.

Next time I’ll write about the other seeds I plan on planting, which aren’t ready to sow yet.  I need to wrap up those cookies, start on the strawberries (I dream about growing strawberries some day), and get dinner started.  Farewell for now, dear void!


The Garden: Beginning

To me, gardening was buying some flowers, sticking them in a pot, remembering to water them for a few weeks, and then letting them die.  Or, in my high school days, throwing some seeds in a window box outside and checking in on them a month or so later.  Pitiful, I know.  Last Monday, though, some co-workers had a seed-exchange at work.  Several people brought various seeds to share, and we all left with a fun assortment of vegetable and herb seeds.  I was also sent home with the door-prize: several nice peat pots, some seed markers, and a cute new pair of earrings.  So sweet.  Now, I’ve caught the gardening bug.  I stopped at Wal-mart on the way home that day, picked up some plastic liners, some potting soil specifically for seedlings, a few more peat pots, and a packet of Dahlia seeds.  (What’s a garden without flowers?)  And that evening, I started sowing my seeds.  I feel like a little kid watching these little plants grow.  It still amazes me that flower and vegetables start as these tiny little seeds.

As much as I can, I want to document this process, because (1) it’s so fun; I have to talk about it somehow; (2) I want to remember what I did for future years; and (3) this is the only setting where I feel I can write about and photograph my little garden to my heart’s content.  So, that’s what I plan to do.  Coming soon – a chart of what I’ve planted and what I plan to plant, as well as a status update about how it’s going so far.  And this, dear void, is how I spend a Friday night.

Here we go.

I’m here because I once enjoyed writing.  And writing, in the past, has been a method of healthy reflection, where I take my thoughts and actions seriously.  Not that the thoughts and actions themselves need to be serious.  Far from it.  My intent is rather to practice expressing my thoughts without the defense mechanisms of sarcasm and shyness.  In the past year or two I have seen beauty and truth expressed through online writing, and reading such well-written, reflective words has been inspiring and challenging.

I also want to chronicle my days.  Reflection, be it through journaling, prayer, sincere conversation, or focused thought, goes far in preventing life lived purely from habit — going through the motions because it seems that there’s nothing else to do.   I’ve recently been limiting how often the TV is on and how much I’m on the internet at home.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of the internet and the TV.   I’m writing this via the internet, under the inspiration of other online authors.  And Daniel and I regularly watch TV shows together.  But we’ve found that when TV and the internet are not activity options, the days are longer, and we are able to fill them with time spent together, working on things we enjoy and things we find productive and satisfying.  And oddly enough, that ends up being more relaxing than lounging on the couch with the remote control.  But I don’t want to just fill my time with tangible activities.  I want it to be seasoned with conversation and reflection.  So to those ends, I’m focusing on a couple things.  The first is having people over for meals –  to foster laid back evenings and the opportunity to hear about the lives of those with whom we share this little world.  And, secondly, I’m starting this – me, writing about the things I see and the ideas I encounter.

All of that said, here are a few practical things I want to keep in mind.

1. Approach this as a journal, not an audience.  I don’t do well in front of audiences.  Even in front of a couple people I have trouble expressing my thoughts coherently.  Maybe someday I will work to improve that, but for now, I just want to practice expressing my thoughts in writing, without trying to impress anyone.

2. Write sincerely.  This is more or less entailed by #1, but the objective is to write honestly.  Not make up a bunch of interesting stories or witty catch-phrases.

3. Write positively.  Not in grumbles or complaints.

4. Don’t obsess about making it perfect.  I want to practice writing well, and I want to do this to the best of my abilities.  But, perfection is not one of my abilities.  I also want to incorporate things I’m learning – like photography – and those kinds of things will, without a doubt, be novice and far from perfect.

5. Think outside myself.  This is a journal, so I’m going to use the word “I” a lot.  However, I want to avoid being wrapped up in myself.  And let me tell you, this will most ashamedly take the grace of God and some significant change.  But my hope is that the more I reflect on what is beautiful and noble, the less I’ll think about myself.  Hopefully, if nothing else, this space will document that journey.

And with that, dear void, I’ll call it a night.