A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

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Sunday, March 18, 2012

Dirt Farmer

Every summer I venture into my modestly sized suburban backyard to play in the dirt.

I always grow tomatoes and jalapenos.  In past years I’ve been industrious and added cucumbers, eggplant or squash.  I found out last season that herbs do really well in the space available to me so I had fresh dill, basil and cilantro.

This is not a cost saving mechanism.  The plants take forever to come in and my harvest is always small.  I really just do it for the satisfaction and survival skill street cred of eating something I grew in my own dirt.  I’m also not particularly good at it.  As I said before I always grow jalapeno peppers for Ted and every year, without fail, they are not hot.  I have no idea what quirk of my poor gardening technique causes the absolute lack of capsaicin in every hot pepper I’ve ever grown, but there it is.  I water at the wrong time of day, or forget to do it for too long.  I don’t take proper anti-bunny precautions, and I overcrowd the plants because of my lack of space.

Still, when spring comes I can’t deny the itch to get out there, dig holes and plant stuff just for the pleasure of watching them grow.  I want to go out there at dusk and stick my face in the leaves of the tomato plant because it’s honestly one of my favorite smells, even if 90% of the harvest is probably going to be consumed by hungry, wasteful Leporidae.  Seriously, I wouldn’t mind the little buggers eating my stuff if they’d just eat the whole thing, but no – they take a few bites and then leave the rest lying on my garden pathway like an insult.

This year while wandering through my neighborhood massive home and garden supply outlet my gaze fell upon the home seedling kids, and I decided – why not?  Lets begin the yearly gardening frustration early.

Armed with a nifty little plastic greenhouse and six different varieties of tasty seeds, I headed home where Ted cleverly built me a little shelf just the right size in my laundry room under the big window.

The greenhouse is fairly idiot proof: you add warm water to each cup in the tray and the solid soil pellets in each one abruptly expand like an alien genome in a lab – it’s pretty cool.  Once they’ve filled the cups, you poke your finger in the dirt, add a few seeds, and cover them up.  Lid on and they’re all ready to grow!

I chose spinach, two tomato varieties, sweet basil, sweet pepper, and more jalapeno for Ted (because I REFUSE to give up).

Right now, my greenhouse looks like this:

Much to my delight, tender little green shoots began emerging right on schedule and as instructed I popped the greenhouse lid so they could get some air:

How ridiculously cute is baby basil?  I could squee.

My only problem now is that they didn’t ALL emerge.  The two tomato varieties are growing like crazy, the basil has sprouted and the jalapeno are putting in a dogged appearance.  I have, however, seen no sign of either my sweet peppers or spinach.

This presents a logistical problem because before shoots come up, you’re supposed to keep the lid on and the environment warm, dim and moist.  After emergence, you’re supposed to remove the lid and start giving your young plant family direct sunlight.

So I’ve got two completely incompatible states going on now in one very small greenhouse.

Trying to have it both ways, I’m currently keeping the lid on, propped slightly open, with gentle, indirect sunlight shining down on things.  Most likely all this is going to do is kill everything since I’m not giving either type of plant appropriate treatment.

Still, I soldier on in the hopes of having a bounty of home made spinach salad and fresh gazpacho this summer.  Pipe dream?  Maybe.  But right now I’m riding high on the satisfaction of going into my laundry room and seeing all these sweet young plants hanging out in there because of me.  I am self sufficient!  I can grow things in the dirt!

Bring it on, zombie apocalypse.


  1. Good Luck. Way back when, my grandmother started her seedlings in January (for a really good head start) and in cardboard egg cartons.

    1. Egg cartons? That's brilliant! I am so doing that next year instead of buying plastic trays again! That way I can put each different type of seed in it's own, easily movable container too.

      Either that or I'll plant them directly in separate used yogurt cups...

  2. Try covering the unsprouted seedlings with saran wrap.
    Fingers are crossed!