Adventure in creativity

I garden in the city. Maybe that is a little optimistic: I try to grow plants, outside, in an urban residential area is more precise. This makes growing plants a challenge in itself. I share my small yard with dogs, cats, squirrels,birds, children, tweens, teens and adults. This increases the challenge considerably, while my almost non-exsistant budget and free time make plant growing even more difficult. Still I garden. I like it.

Last years broccoli was tremendous, so much so I ended up pulling it with a few baby heads unharvested.  Even the broccoli lovers of the family were beginning to look rebellious at its appearance on the table. Did I plant too much? Any other year it would barely have been enough, but a combination of rich mulch and cool spring weather meant the broccoli just keep producing. Yes, I grow vegetables, but only those that don't take up major space or can share space and will be well recieved by my family. I won't even mention the summer squash and cucumbers that mildewed or the tomatoes that I replanted three times because the spring was cold and wet and the summer was just like the spring and by the time the warmer and drier autumn arrived most things had given up the ghost. No, my garden does not alway live up to my expectations.

Why do I garden, even in the city, even with all the challenges and difficulties? My neice is still trying to figure it out, although the taste of freshly dug potatoes, sun warmed just picked tomatoes and dew drenched  garden peas has done a lot to help. She also has a great appreciation for the large, often delightfully fragrant bouquets that appear as summer progresses, especially since they are free.  For me it has to do with being outside, watching as things grow, exercise, beauty, appreciation and stress relief. I sure won't complain about the fresh vegetables, herbs and flowers either.

Do you garden? Never have any luck growing things? Have a "black" thumb? Keep trying! Most people who grow plants develop an easy going attitude. "It died!"  "Yes, sometimes they do." In my yard that means I now have a place for something new and different. Goody!  Why did it die is the question and who or what will be the source of the answer.  There are so many resources to find the answer on-line, local garden groups, individual gardeners and even the store where you bought the plant may provide you with answers. Plants are alive and like all living thing they have their own quirks. The challenge is to match your quirks with the quirks of the plants you are growing. Also you need to love what you grow.  You hate beans? Don't grow beans! You think cactus are ugly? Don't buy a cactus, no matter how easy care your buddy or your neighbor says they are. Your cactus probably won't make it.

When you garden- start small. A large pot is perfect. Get some good quality potting soil and fill that pot to within about and inch or two of the rim. A quick note about soil, which by the way is not the same as dirt. Soil is a complex and living environment that makes the miracle of plant growth possible. Dirt is something else completely. Water your soil and pat it down a bit. You will probably have to add some more soil, but be sure to leave some space between the top of the soil and the top of the pot or when you water your plant you will wash the soil out of the pot. Plant some seeds. Make sure your seeds are fresh. Seed packets have a date on the back that tells the year they were packaged and sometimes the month. When you start out only use seed for the year you are planting in, it has the best chance of growing. What to plant? Ask around, do some research, think about what you like, but start simple. You want plants? Find a plant nursery or garden store! These people are the experts. They know plants and love plants and it's good for their business if they can teach you to love plants because then you will buy plants. Think about it, would you buy bread from an auto parts store or auto parts at a bakery? Nurseries and garden stores usually have healthier plants, that are more well cared for and, of course, they cost more.  Save the bargain plants for the more experienced, who may be able to fuss with the sickly, rescue the perishing and rejuvenate the dying The difference in cost is usually not all that great, especially when you consider that a healthy, well grown plant is much more likely to give you a return on your investment. Don't be afraid to admit you are new at this sort of thing. Most, if not all, people who like plants want you to learn to like plants too.

Happy Gardening.