adventure, gardening

Kitchen garden (I)

I’ve thought about starting my own little garden for a while now. My front windows are filled with plants, sure, but of the amaryllis and African violet variety rather than the edible kind.

When I graduated from college and first started living on my own, my parents gave me a set of lucky bamboo as a housewarming gift. Somehow I managed not to kill the bamboo, and now, four years later, they’re growing strong in my kitchen. In the morning the leaves catch the sunlight, and they make the whole room feel cheerful.

However, I’ve had mixed results with other plants. Flowers? I’ve been growing iris bulbs in pots for two years and they have yet to flower. The African violet is quite happy, though. Trees? This winter’s Christmas tree–a miniature pine in a pot–is now browning quickly and might keel over come summer. Too bad we named him. (Lord Conington: Josh’s invention, of course.)

decorating, back when the tree was lush

I’ve had the most success with herbs so far: basil, chives, rosemary. Having just the tiniest flavor of food that I grew myself makes cooking so much more exciting, and now I want to branch out to other foods. Besides, having my own little garden could give me one more insight into the past, back when people relied more on what they could grow themselves.

Since I’m a complete novice at gardening, though, I didn’t want to make the first try too hard on myself. This is strictly container gardening for now, anyway, so I decided to start off with easy plants and a couple handy guides to urban gardening. (The City Homesteader by Scott Meyer and Apartment Gardening by Amy Pennington: both inspiring, neither intimidating.) In an epic trip to the home improvement store, I bought all the seed-starting, planting materials I’d need, plus a few varieties of lettuce, peas, and herbs to try. (Who knew that wandering the gardening aisles of Home Depot could be so exciting?!) Finally, my parents brought an extra grow lamp when they visited this past weekend, and we set it up and tended to Lord Conington (my dad was full of ideas to save the poor tree). Once I return from chaperoning a five-day field trip this week, I’ll be all ready to start those seeds.

And in one of those serendipitous coincidences, a friend gave me nine little tomato plants to inaugurate my kitchen garden. They’re not historic in the least–Americans were suspicious of tomatoes until the 1900s, and therefore didn’t grow very many of them–but they’re familiar as childhood, and just the right thing to start my garden.

So this summer, I’ll hopefully be posting updates on gardening as well as cooking. I’m excited to use my own food for cooking–it feels more authentic, somehow, more rooted in nature and the past than in going to the grocery store. Are any of you gardeners? What are you planting this spring?

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