Sunday, April 09, 2006

The City Gardener #2

My bounty from rare seeds arrived. Very exciting. I did not realize how over zealous I was while ordering-- I have four different kinds of lettuce, arugula, beets and rainbow swiss chard… must retrieve more buckets. There will be a lot of salads this summer and anyone inviting me for a BBQ or potluck will receive a salad. (A warning not to tell me to bring anything else.) The company even threw in a packet of melon seeds. Now I just need to own a good size plot of land with enough sun to plant those suckers!

Today all the babies received a new home in peet pots and a little soil mixture I created: ¾ part planting soil, ¼ part coconut fiber. I cannot say that I did this because it produces the best starter soil, but because I had some coconut fiber lying around from orchids I replanted. Planted and marked with their contents, I spritzed them with water and waited for them to do something. They did nothing so I took a 30 minute walk over to Home Depot and bought a grow light. (I read somewhere that young ones should have 16 hours of sunlight. They will now receive plenty of beautiful artificial sun.)

So why no heirloom tomatoes or luscious bell peppers? Last year, my attempt at a tomato (bucket) garden was pathetic: 5 buckets, one took to disease; almost all fruit the survivors bore was stolen. Not just by squirrels, but women who very well might be my own grandmother (if she was not in California)?! I kid you not: one day as I cut back some house plants in my front room, I spied a curled-over-the-cane woman, topped with a poof of violet-gray. She stepped gingerly through my gated fence, snaged a barely ripe tomato, stuck it in her pocket and hobbled away!

I was so shocked I could only watch wide-eyed. It was not until she was well out of sight that I thought to run after her, throw her to the ground yelling, "how dare you steal my tomato!" break her cane over her head, take back my tomato and skip gingerly away with the knowledge that I had successfully assaulted somebody's grandmother while taking back what was rightfully mine. But no worries, my slate is clean, and a little less full of my own labor.

This year, after consultation I have gone with vegetables that are less eye appealing. After all, I don't really have the proper sun for tomatoes. I am thinking these seemingly less obvious vegetations will detract thieves; as will a large amount of chicken wire and possibly a nice padlock. I will however attempt my tomatoes in another fashion: I am taking to the roof. It is, after all, wasted on the cable man (which I don’t even utilize)-- he is the only one I have seen up there. I have asked the landlord and my request has gone through one affirmative with a tag of, “oh, but please don’t kill yourself.” Let us hope clearance is made and I will cultivate the roof into more than just shelter from the elements.

The City Gardener

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