Thursday, February 12, 2009

Trying to go green when you suck at certain things, Part I

Growing Things

I'm pretty good at quite a few things: writing, illustrating, cooking, and so forth. But it seems that when I'm not good at something, I'm often spectacularly bad. One of those seems to be growing things.

This is ironic, because my father had a degree in horticulture. He worked as a gardener and landscaper, and was later Commisioner of Parks for the city of Clevleand. Growing up, our back yard contained beautiful rose bushes, a vibrant vegatable garden, and strawberry plants. My mother, without my father's training, always maintained a large bevy of houseplants. And my siblings and I helped with weeding and watering.

You'd think I'd have inherited a green thumb, right? Wrong. My father died when I was 16, and for about a year, I tried to maintain the backyard garden, and failed miserably. In my adult life, all the houseplants I've owned have died. I had two that lasted about a year: one, a gift from a boyfriend, died shortly after I repotted it. It had outgrown its original pot, and I asked a florist friend how to repot it, and followed her instructions to the letter. It still died a week later.

Another plant my mother sent for my birthday a few year's ago, and I placed it in my daughter's room because I wanted her to have the better air quality that houseplants can provide. I think it was a peace lily, which is one of the easiest houseplants to maintain, surviving with little sunlight and water. I did water it and feed it plant food, but our apartment got little sunlight and we kept the heat turned low, so it was always cool inside the house. Even with this, the plant did very well for about a year. Then we moved it from my daughter's room, although I don't remember the reason why. In any case, two weeks later, it died.

All other houseplants I've ever had have had much shorter lifespans.

In my journey to green, I would really like to grow my own vegetables. In Boston, we lived in a second floor apartment surrounded by buildings on all sides, with no place to garden. (There were community gardens in the neighborhood, but I didn't want to be away from my daughter for the amount of time it would have taken to participate). But now in Washington, we live in a house, with a yard, and a beautiful terrace that overlooks the Puget Sound. So this spring, I'd really like to try growing a few vegetables.

I want to start small, one veggie this year, and in containers rather than a plot. I purchased a few books on container gardening and organic gardening from Amazon's used marketplace to help me get started, and from this, I know that lettuce is one of the easiest veggies to grow. So that's my plan: lettuce in containers in 2009, and we'll see where things go from there. But I have this fear that I'll fail, as I have with everything else I've ever tried to grow.

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