One of my new obsessions during this quarantine (I am officially at day 47 since life as I knew it came to a screeching halt) is gardening. And of course, me being me, it has to be done on my terms.
I grew up watching my grandfather grow tomatoes and green bell peppers in my mother’s backyard. I wasn’t a huge fan of either at the time, so I didn’t get to reap the benefits of his harvests. Instead, my gardening memories are of helping him plant each year’s crops…sitting with him in the late morning sun, digging holes with my little shovel, and staring at awe at the ecosystem of never-before-seen insects traversing under the ground. These are memories that I look back on fondly, and I am smiling currently as I write.
However, I never had any desire for a garden of my own until I purchased a house with my husband in March 2018. We purchased a house because our friends were purchasing homes; a nice, middle-income suburban home within a two-mile radius of my mother, my grandparents, and many close friends. Most of these friends were also beginning to plant gardens, so this meant that I needed a garden, too, right?
Wrong. Reoccurring flooding in our basement stressed us to our max, and a garden became the least of our worries for the remainder of the year.
Spring 2019 came around, and I purchased entirely too many plants. I purchased plants for foods we never even ate on a minimal basis, and an excess of it all. Furthermore, I then had no clue how to properly plant them, and my poor husband had to dig up the land to shovel my new treasures into the ground. Thankfully, most of them grew, and we were able to enjoy the glee of walking outside and harvesting our dinner on a daily basis.
Then, July 2019 brought with it the worst heatwave Kentucky has seen in two decades, and all of my crops were roasted. The few that survived were then pummelled by caterpillars and rendered useless.
I had failed.
Luckily, so had most of our friends, so it made me feel less miserable when I’d stare at my ruined garden every time I went outdoors.
In roared 2020. I missed my garden, but I refused to deal with the weather and the pests ever again. I purchased a 30-gallon fish tank from Amazon Marketplace and filled it with fresh planting soil. I selected several flower pots and mason jars and filled those as well. I rigged up a hanging shelf unit (also from Amazon) to place in the windowsill. And then I tossed the remainder of last year’s seeds into each one and drowned them with warm water and Miracle Grow.
A week passed, and nothing changed. I waited for the moment my husband would gently pull me aside and give me the “You just don’t have a green thumb” talk. And after nearly two weeks of sadness, I nearly peed myself when I saw a tiny green leaf protruding from one of the pots. I took a photo and sent it out in my group chat. I rushed over to my husband and showed him the pot. I called my mother.
You’d have thought I’d won the lottery. And I had.
Mother Nature’s lottery.
Each day, something new appeared, and I excitedly catalogued it on Instagram. I bought new seeds, new jars, and grew more and more plants. It’s an obsession, but a healthy one.
My grandfather has a green thumb. My mother does not. I am overjoyed to discover that I have a green thumb, and I also cringe internally upon realizing that my future offspring will one day kill my crops while mommy is on a business trip.
But the best part is that this is the start of an amazing urban garden. I am growing MY crops in MY home for MY benefit. I am sustaining my family from the comfort of my living room and my basement. I am placing our health first, both internally with fruits, veggies, and herbs, but also by placing more oxygen into the air for the benefit of our lungs and the aroma of our home.
The blogs in this category that follow will detail the good, the bad, and the ugly of urban gardening. If you have any questions, please reach out to me on Instagram, and I will be happy to chat!