The last time I attempted to garden was in the spring of 2000. I bought a bunch of seeds from Territorial -- lettuce, bush beans, carrots -- and planted them in the sandy soil around our patio area. They sprouted, and then they were gone to the slugs within a matter of days. I thought about replanting, but then I noticed the neighborhood cats were using the space as a litter box.
After that, I dreamed of trying another garden, but I ran into two problems. One was that I didn't have time. The other was I am exceedingly lazy, and gardening isn't lazy man's work. (My willingness to let my lawn look like a shortgrass prairie underscores that.)
This year, though, we moved into this new three-story rental townhouse. With it came this third-floor deck about the size of a small bedroom. It has southern exposure, holds the heat well, and no slug in their right mind is going to climb three stories just to eat tender shoots.
Perfect for a container garden.
But container gardens, unfortunately, cost money.
I wanted to do tomatoes, which have huge root bulbs. They require, at minimum, 15 gallons of soil. $40 worth of nursery planters and $40 worth of soil later, I had a medium. The seedlings cost $10, including the $3.50 "Green Grape" heirloom I bought at Swansons. (I also bought two "Early Girl" starters and a hybrid cherry at Home Despot.) Throw in two packets of lettuce seeds (mesclun and Black Seed Simpson) and some herbs (parsley, sage, thyme, basil -- sorry, no rosemary) and I'm now down $100. Last weekend I needed tomato cages (thanks to the wind ripping one plant out), so that was another $30. And water is, well, a little expensive in these parts.
So far, though, I'm happy. The heirloom tomato is struggling for some reason (it's a little limp and not as green as the other three), and I way overseeded the lettuce in the tomato pots (I can't seem to thin them fast enough... salad anyone?). But the other tomato plants have grown a foot in the last month and are cage-ready, I'm going to be up to my ears in argula soon, and the herbs, despite some insect attacks on the basil, are thriving. Maybe I don't suck at this.
The other nice thing is that Annabel loves to water the plants. She's turning into a handy garden assistant, even if she's overwatering them a bit.
I won't know if this is working until the plants actually set fruit. Unfortunately, in the cool Northwest that means another two months. But it's nice to know I can get plants to grow, even if I'm down $130 in the quest for a tomato that doesn't taste like styrofoam. And if I do get tomatoes, there will be plenty to share with others.
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From a northwest gardening freak... the trick to growing lettuce is definitely seeding one row, waiting a week or 10 days, seeding the next and so on. You have a nice steady supply and not everything is ready at once. And the nice thing is with mache salad, you can plant it already in March and have the first harvest 18 days later.
Posted by: Kat | June 16, 2007 05:39 PM