I’ve never considered myself to have a green thumb. Gardening never interested me, mostly because in my mind, it involved dirty fingers (yes I understand you can wear gloves), worms, and big straw hats.
Many people point out that since I’ve successfully kept my dog alive for the past 4 1/2 years, I should be able to keep a plant alive. I disagree; unlike Dog, a plant will not tell me when it needs food or water. In fact, at my last job, one of my tasks was to water the plants, and I’m pretty certain that one of them was overwatered (obviously I was trying to overcompensate for forgetting to water them on a regular basis).
But then one of the plants, which had apparently never flowered in the years my boss had it, suddenly blossomed one day, so I began thinking that maybe the other plant just died because it was old. That happens, right?
I’ve noticed that in the past few years, my love for clothes-and-shoe-shopping has diminished quickly, only to be replaced by a love for household-goods-shopping. As I walked home a few weeks ago, I just had to stop by Sur La Table and poke my head around the store. By the way, it’s probably my favorite place ever, so I can never just walk past and window shop.
It was a week before Easter, and they already had some Easter stuff on sale, and one of the items was a children’s gardening kit. It was 6 different types of seeds, some soil pellets, and an egg carton. Oh, and a “growth chart” printed in Comic Sans. Totally meant for kids. But it was $6 and I bought it.
Since I’ve never actually gardened before, I read the directions several times before putting the soil pellets in water, soaking them until they magically became soil (I have seriously never seen this before), carefully dividing them amongst the carton’s wells, putting the seeds in, and covering them all with the remaining soil. I set the carton next to a windowsill and stared at it.
Of course I knew the seeds weren’t going to magically grow right away, but still. I wanted my baby cucumber, squash, watermelon, radishes, green beans, and carrots to succeed, so I was willing them to grow.
After a few days, a few seedlings actually started popping up. The green beans and radishes were the first to sprout, followed by the squash and cucumber. I had doubts about the watermelon and carrots, especially as I transplanted them to my newly-delivered Amazon-ordered planter boxes. But after a few days and a dose of Miracle-Grow plant food, they’re still chugging along.
The growth of the seedlings, which I likened to the absence of failure, sparked some kind of odd fascination with gardening that has since become borderline obsessive. I spent hours scouring Amazon (and other gardening sites) for the best planters for small spaces, the best soil, how far apart I should plant seedlings, and the easiest vegetables to grow. Box after box started arriving filled with gardening supplies and vegetable seeds. I saved egg cartons so I could start more seedlings.
It eventually got to the point where I ran out of room on my window ledge to plant stuff (I even had to give away some of my watermelon and cantaloupe seedlings because I didn’t have enough planters, so I had to buy some bigger pots to put on my rooftop. When I became paranoid about birds eating the tomato plants, I moved them closer to the back staircase so I could keep an eye on them.
Today, I’m about a month into my gardening phase, and though nothing has borne fruit (or vegetables) yet, the plants are actually still alive and looking pretty good. My new favorite places to shop are Sloat Garden Center and Home Depot, and I spend every morning gleefully looking at my plant babies. This morning, as I potted four of my watermelon seedlings, Dog came over and watched. I think it’s the first time he’s realized that I’ve been tending to something other than him.
Oh, and I’ll have salad in a few more weeks. But the best part of this gardening experience by far, is that I don’t mind a bit of soil under my neatly manicured nails; in fact, I think it’s sort of fun to play in the dirt.