22 April 2010

Quite Contrary

strawberries from seedHow does my garden grow?

I don't think I could be considered a green thumb, but I love being able to eat or cook and bake with things I grow myself from seed.

little green onionsMy grandmother grew the most wonderful tomatoes when I was a child. We could make a sandwich, and one slice of Grandma's tomatoes would cover the entire piece of bread. Just homemade whole wheat toast, butter, a tiny bit of salt and pepper, and a thick slice of oversized, fresh-out-of-the-garden tomato. Still my favorite sandwich of all time to this very day.

My parents tried their hand at a vegetable garden once, and we dined on some of the food we grew, but that's about all I remember. I vaguely remember Mom learning to can pickles, and I remember eating them and wondering why they weren't the same color as pickles in the grocery store. So I suppose we grew at least cucumbers. I also remember eating fried green tomatoes. And loving them.

When I planted my first garden, back in about 1986, in the heart (and heat) of the New Mexico desert, people driving by would laugh at me. "You'll never get anything to grow here!" they'd chide.

Two months later, those same neighbors would drive by and ask, "How did you get that garden to grow?"

Magic. Pure and simple.

Actually, the tenants before me had raised rabbits, and I planted my garden right where the rabbit cages had been. Voila!

cornLast year, I planted seeds indoors in containers, hoping to be able to transplant them into our own garden if we were able to buy a home. We bought a home. I transplanted the mature plants. They died.

Turns out we don't exactly have soil where I live now in Colorado. We have clay. Clay heavily seasoned by numerous big dogs who for years inhabited the landscape before us.

As a result, we signed up for a plot in the community garden this year. Winter in the Rockies *might* be over now. My little seedlings are getting just enough roots. I'm confident we'll be able to move them to their new homes soon. Oh, and I cheated. I bought a bundle of infant red onions, seedling strawberries and baby bushes of blueberries and raspberries. Everything else is from seed. Sunflowers, corn, sweet peas, green beans, beets, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, carrots, green onions, spices and even kohl rabi. Only the four varieties of chili peppers have neglected to sprout so far. So last weekend, I planted another batch in a different kind of store-bought soil.

I wonder if people will drive by and laugh. "You're trying to grow a weedless garden while you're busy training for six or eight weeks of intense summer cycling events?!? Ha ha ha ha ha! You're NUTS!" (Because, you see, we'll probably be stopping at the community garden at the end of our training rides, and we probably won't bother to remove our helmets while we touch things up.)

And all I can do is hope, with fingers and toes crossed, that come August, I will be knocking on their doors with surplus produce to share.

I don't have a green thumb. But maybe I can inspire some green envy...


  1. I just know what your grandma tomatoes were like ... ohhhhh, how delicious. My father-in-law use to plant about 100 plants and they were wonderful. I don't think there is anything better then a fresh tomato. My favorite fare is a tomato salad (with onion of course) and fresh italian bread. Perfect summer meal. Good luck with your new garden and your training. Have a great day.

  2. :D. I hope, nobody is laughing your greens in August....

    We are saying here in Finland : I buy first the seeds, then I buy the plants and finally - I bue the cabbage from the supermarket :)))

  3. Green with envy, over here!

    I absolutely.love. these shots of delicate new shoots. They're taking off, just like you are.

    Go, Snowcatcher, GO!!

  4. I have plants that are growing too! They make me so happy, just like a little kid. Haha.


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