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Growing My Interest for Gardening

I didn’t grow up with any interest in plants (not even house plants), but thanks to my interest in cooking, I finally took up the task of tending to plants in my own tiny plot.

Getting Set Up

I never intended to have a garden in my tiny patio space right outside my North facing, ground level condo. However, I managed to gather a couple of plant pots from a neighbor who exited somewhat hastily after purchasing. My boyfriend at the time actually nabbed them, but it seemed like a good idea at the time with a few plants already growing in them. And later, at Christmas, we bought a “rosemary tree” that unfortunately didn’t make it past one winter. It was great while it lasted, but the pot soon joined the two other tenants.

The first pot of flowers in my garden. Zinnias and marigolds.Preparing the Soil (the First Time)

Unfortunately, my not-so-green thumb let the plants I had inherited die, and it was a long while before I bothered to add new plants in their place. I researched plants I found at my local store with a gardening department and looked for what would grow well in partial to full shade. I also did a little prep work by cleaning out the soil from the previous plants and even drilled holes in the rather large (50 gallon?) pot that retained all water. I’ve never asked, but I’m sure my neighbors were happy to see me ridding the scene of dead plant at least.

The second pot of flowers in my garden: Lobelia and wax begonias.First Year Garden: Annuals

I chose to add flowering annuals to the now restored pots. The flowers I chose were red-orange zinnias, yellow marigolds, indigo lobelia and white wax begonias. Almost all of them lasted the full season. Alas, I did something wrong where the zinnias were concerned, because they died after a couple of months. However, the marigolds stayed around and the lobelia as well as the begonias flourished. It made for a rewarding first foray into learning about plants.

Second Year Garden: Herbs

Of course, the next year, I wanted to add edible plants to my pots, so I chose herbs. The thyme plant I started after deciding to add herbs.I ended up gathering together dill and basil. I put some copper African daisies, yellow superbells and orange marigolds together. I also did a reprise of the lobelia as none of the other plants seemed to like a full shade pot. Again, I had a slight problem. The basil didn’t work at all. But on the other hand, the dill shot up beautifully. The pot with the daisies, superbells and marigolds had too much close together, so they ended up a little withered and diseased. However, the lobelia thrived. Again.

After the initial planting for the second year, I cleaned things out early and added two new plants. Where the basil died, I added two chive plants. Where the daisies, superbells and marigolds withered, I added a winter thyme plant. The new additions did well over the winter and took off the third year when Spring came around.

Chives I planted to add to my herb garden.Third Year Garden: Edible Flowers

In preparation for Spring of the third year, I’d learned about edible flowers. I was determined to find something to add to my perennial herbs yet still maintain a nice mix of color with the green. I chose nasturtium, bergamot, sweet cicely and sweet woodruff, all with different flavors of pepper, minty-basil, anise and general sweetness (respectively). Alas, none of it came out at all. I was just a little upset about it, but such are the lessons of gardening for the amateur.

What’s next, you ask? Oh, thanks. I was just coming to that.

Fourth Year Garden: Flowers, Herbs and Lettuce

My plans now are to appreciate the herbs that flower and add a few more, shifting back to typical edibles that I know will work. I’m going to add back the dill that works well with the pot with the chives. The dill makes yellow flowers while the chives bloom in purple. I may also try some borage to add to the pot with the thyme. Borage adds a cucumber flavor to things, although the edible leaves are very hairy in texture and therefore feel weird if eaten alone. Lastly, I think I’ll put two kinds of lettuce in the largest of my pots that sits in the shade: Romaine lettuce and butter lettuce.

Gardening wasn’t something I planned on getting into, but since I have a love for cooking, I’ve managed to warm up to gardening as well. It certainly makes the effort more rewarding if you can forage from your foliage. It also helps you appreciate the freshness of food you can grab right at the last moment before preparing a meal. May you enjoy whatever you plant in your pots, too.