Hello Readers! Just a heads up that this post is not at all book-related. I am very excited about the vegetable gardening I put in this year, and this post is an invitation for you to take a break and wander the garden with me. It isn’t huge, but if you want to envision a traditional English or French labyrinthine garden while reading, that is fine with me! First I’ll explain a little about why gardening is so exciting and important to me, and then I’m going to show you what I recently planted. The sun is bright overhead, and there is a light breeze, so grab your sunhat, and join me in the inaugural edition of what I’m tentatively calling this year’s Gardening Chronicles!
Every year I look forward to the start of gardening season. There is something invigorating about the miracle of putting tiny seeds in the ground and watching them transform into something vastly different (and edible). We’re finally past the point of hard freezes where I live, and while there is a (shocking) chance of a dusting of snow overnight, it’s time to choose plants and get them in the ground!
Besides the inherent personal fulfillment from gardening, I’m also a firm believer in the idea that urban gardening is a key player in fighting food insecurity. I hope to eventually start a community garden, and through partnerships with the local library and county extension office, teach those in need how to make the most out of gardening in small spaces. This undertaking is a theoretical goal I have for the future; it has no grounds in the present. However, I’m trying to use what I have now to learn all that I can about gardening in small spaces.
Growing up, my family usually planted a moderate-sized garden, probably around 20′ by 8′. We’ve cultivated vegetables and flowers as long as I can remember. Nothing big, just enough to have fresh salads and pretty, ornamental flowerbeds in the summer plus a few cans of home grown vegetables over the winter.
This year, I’m doing all of my gardening in 5 gallon buckets instead of in the ground. There are a few extra things to take into consideration when growing in containers, and I want to have first-hand experience with this so that I can confidently answer questions about it in the future. Containers are a great way to create growing space in places that don’t have much (or any) inherent growing space, such as apartments. Depending on the size of the container, you can grow a variety of plants, from herbs in a kitchen window to bush plants on a patio. There are so many possibilities! There’s also a lot of helpful information out there; in my library alone we have an entire shelf of books dedicated to making the most out of gardening in small spaces.
I’m also trying something new to me called companion planting. This is where you plant different plants close together that have similar sun and water needs, and hopefully the plants are mutually beneficial. In one bucket, I planted a young cherry tomato plant, a handful of carrot seeds, and three marigold seeds. Theoretically, the carrots will help aerate the soil, allowing water to easily soak in everywhere. The marigolds, according to my research, have a scent that deters some pests that are common to tomato plants. The tomato doesn’t do anything that I know of to help its neighbors, but it is my main focus for this bucket.
The second bucket just has a pepper plant, because I haven’t grown peppers in a container before and I’m not sure how much room it will need. The variety I planted is supposed to make smaller peppers and be a slightly smaller plant from what is traditionally planted in the ground. I’m extremely happy with the plant I was able to find; this guy looks like he got a very happy, strong start. It even has a few tiny peppers starting to set on already! Unfortunately, they don’t show up well in any of the pictures I try to take. I can’t wait to watch this plant grow; surely it won’t take long for these and more peppers to mature!
That’s it for my main, outdoor gardening this year. On a whim (and because I wasn’t ready to be done playing in the dirt) I planted a few Cosmo seeds in a small pot I had on hand. I’m keeping the pot inside until they sprout, but once they sprout and become sturdy, this pot will most likely move outside. My windowsill is already in danger of being taken over by the three houseplants residing there! One, which I think is a Cone Flower/echinacea, has suddenly grown from around 10″ tall to a startling 36,” and had to be repotted (the picture shows the old pot). This is the moodiest, neediest plant, but that makes it so rewarding when it thrives! It currently has three buds which I am ecstatic about because it has yet to bloom in the two(ish) years that I have had it.
Corrie ten Boom and her sister Betsy believed wholeheartedly in the healing power of gardening. She talks for length about it in The Hiding Place, which I finished reading last month. There is no doubt that there is something serene about gardening, and I don’t doubt that there could be something psychologically therapeutic in habitual gardening. It’s one of those activities that can draw your mind away from the struggle and stress of the world, and into an acknowledgement of things that are bigger, more reliable, and sometimes a little bit mysterious.
Have you planted anything this spring, or do you intend to plant anything? Do you find gardening comforting, or is it a chore to you?
Also, would you enjoy occasional updates on the status of my garden throughout the growing season, or do you find it painfully boring to read about? Please leave an honest comment either way! I enjoy sharing pieces of my life with y’all, but I don’t want to bore anyone.
Until the next chapter,