Budding Vegetables & Gardening Zen

You can only read so many books and web articles about vegetable gardening before you just have to sack up and do whatever is that you have been reading about. By reading and reading and reading, we ended up putting off transplanting for a really long time. Luckily, it hasn’t done any lasting harm to our plants. Check out the buds on the tomato, jalapeno, and bell pepper plants. I am woman! I make vegetable!

What’s that you say? You can’t see the buds? Well, they’re really small, OK?

Annnnnnyway, some form of procrastination leaked into the rest of our original planting schedule and temporarily poisoned our will to plant. I don’t know why we kept putting it off, but eventually we were reading packets that said to plant “2 to 4 weeks after temps reach 65 degrees” or some degree indicative of early springtime. It is so not early springtime anymore. But who cares, I say! I laugh in the face of seed packets! I am woman! I make–you get the point.

So last night when I got home from work, feeling a little tired, a little discouraged, a little envious of other organizations’ websites, whatever, I decided June 12 seemed like a perfect time to plant my early spring vegetables. You know, I just went for it. Who cares if it’s not radish season anymore according to some packet? It’s always radish season in my heart. So I got Jordan to drill some holes in some buckets, and we planted. Radishes. Lettuce. Zucchini. Cucumbers. Carrots. Just like that.

And I felt connected to Ceres, goddess of grain and harvest, as predicted in my cost benefit analysis of vegetable gardening. And I went inside feeling calm–respite gleaned by burying treasures and digging in dirt.

Gardening Books, At Last

It has happened. I finally made it to the public library to pick up my gardening books just in time for the weekend. Oh, the joy of Saturday morning when I can sit down, linger over my coffee, and start reading. Saturdays are the best day for reading because you aren’t rushed and you can pause at appropriate intervals and tell your fellow sloth factoids that begin with, “Did you know…?”

Here’s my pile of artfully stacked library books. You’ll notice that the second book in the stack says “You” at the top and features a graphic of a woman with a ponytail sprouting out of the top of her head. This book is called, You Grow Girl by Gayla Trail (I wasn’t lying in my earlier post) and it will probably end up being my favorite.

Here is the list of books I snatched from the library. They are all so pretty!

The Cook’s Herb Garden, Jeff Cox & Marie Pierre Moine
After just a cursory glance, I have already decided that I need to buy this book. It is an encyclopedia of herbs and edible flowers with pictures, descriptions, habits, and cook’s notes for all kinds of herbs including many that just tickle me with delight. Have you ever heard of the herb(s) Good King Henry/Fat Hen? It has such a delicious name I can hardly stand it! The book also has tips on how to dry and freeze herbs and recipes for salads, sauces, liqueurs, and tea.

You Grow Girl, Gayla Trail
I hate to admit it, but I love this book already. It’s like the Stitch ‘N Bitch of the gardening world. I like the sassy titles, the tips to make your pots grow moss so they don’t look store-bought, and all the sections titled make it, grow it, brew it. There is even a section on how to deal with the bugs and recipes for homemade natural bug repellent. I guess I’m going to have to face my fears sooner or later. :-/

Container Gardening Through the Year, Malcolm Hillier
Unfortunately, this is not a book about vegetable container gardening. Nope, it’s about flowers. Beautiful flowers in containers. This is what happens when you order books in haste. You can see evidence of my irrationality and crazy here and my rational, prudent side here.

Garden Anywhere, How to Grow Gorgeous Container Gardens Herb Gardens, Kitchen Gardens, and More–Without Spending a Fortune, Alys Fowler
I included the subtitle because this book is exactly what I’m looking for. We need an inexpensive and thrifty way to grow vegetables and herbs, because let’s face it, we might not succeed. I don’t want to have spent my hard-earned green on gardening and then have nothing to show for it. Eek. Things I like about this book: 1. the introduction is all about slowing down and not stressing out (I need to adopt this philosophy right now) and 2. there are lots of ideas on how to repurpose scrap wood into containers and how to use all parts of the garden, even the weeds!

Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Containers, Edward C. Smith
I started reading this book immediately because I was so interested in self-watering containers. I never even knew they existed, and wondered why doesn’t everyone use them? I quickly learned why. I don’t know if Jordan and I are crafty enough to build our own self-watering containers and we surely can’t afford to buy them. We’ll just have to resolve to be crafty and make at least one with the pretty cachepot that Jordan’s momma gave us. I’ll let you know how that goes.

The Container Kitchen Garden, Anthony Atha
Flipping through this book, it seems to be a nice introduction to container gardening. I should have started reading this one first. There is a lot of helpful info on choosing the pots and containers, a nice index of herbs and veggies in the back, AND a page of herbal beauty treatments. How sweet of this man to think of us ladies.

The Complete Herb Garden, John Stevens
When I opened up to the title page I found a label that says, “Presented to the Library by The Charlotte Herb Guild.” I didn’t know we had an herb guild. How fun! This is really a reference book and not so much a practical guide so I probably won’t actually read it. Too many words.

Any book or web resource that I should be reading that I’m not? Suggestions welcome!

Vegetable Container Gardening 101

I woke up this morning and realized in a panic that I haven’t planned our container gardening schedule. And we have no supplies. And we can’t find a good online source to tell us exactly how and when to plant exactly what we want to eat. Now, it’s still January so I think we have plenty of time to get it together, but I fear that we should already be germinating little bean seeds in homemade egg carton planters. Sigh. Often I doubt Jordan’s and my ability to successfully grow a bounty of veggies and herbs based on several factors:

1) Neither of us really enjoy getting dirty. (Very early in our relationship Jordan remarked sincerely, “I’m so glad you aren’t outdoorsy!”)
2) We are both currently obsessed with other things, see About for more information.
3) We are both really bad at killing bugs.

However, we vow to conquer our fears of the dirt and creepy crawly things and to chronicle our successes and failures so that other sustainable lifestyle seekers can learn too!

My brother Chris is a green thumb and oh-so-generously gifted me two fruit plants for Christmas. I don’t think they will bear fruit any time soon but they truly represent the beginning of my food growing mission. Note the plant on the left with the droopy leaf. I believe it’s droopy because of 1) lack of water and 2) these tiny weird bugs that are happily thriving all around the leaves.

In an effort to destroy said bugs, I passionately sprayed them with some homemade household cleaner. They are still happily alive today. After examining the plant, I backed away and whined to Jordan, “Honey, will you throw away this plant for me?”

And so begins our adventure in vegetable container gardening.