Everything I Like Causes Cancer

Where we've been convinced to write a new post on Dec. 2. Stay tuned!

Every year I choose a new project for the garden: one year I might focus on a particular family of plants, like roses or bulbs; the next year I might tackle a troublesome area, like the dark/wet/cold corner by the house (evil lives there, and little else.) I went into this winter planning to focus on herbs in 2010. I immersed myself in plant catalogs and herb guides and recipe books and spent countless hours studying leaf texture, fragrance, flowering potential, sun preference, size, uses outside the garden . . . but that wasn't enough. No, I got super ambitious. I decided to start the majority of my new 2010 plants from seed.


"Hey, baby, nice cotyledons.
Wanna set some roots together?"

It's a mighty endeavor but I'll never be good at it if I don't try, and I want to see if I can. Plus, all the time I spent plotting the new beds, researching what I would need and when I should start, and shopping for the seeds felt enough like gardening that it kept me from losing my cabin-fevered mind and robbing the 7-11. Well - that, the security cameras, and my fear of jail.

Last spring I worked Saturday mornings for a woman who runs a small nursery out of her basement. Miss V, a dynamic octogenarian, started her first plants from seed after her father-in-law told her she wouldn't be able to do it. She also backhanded me on my first day for referring to her expertly prepared soil as "dirt." To say I've learned a thing or two about starting plants from seed under the tutelage of Miss V is an understatement, it's just a matter of whether or not I can do it without her space and equipment and guidance.

Much of what I read this winter warned me to start small, to attempt no more than ten different types of seed. Last year I threw some dry seeding mix (no water + no nutrients = slim chance, dummy) into two trays, poked a seed into each slot without regard to size and set them in a window with southern exposure. I did okay: most seeds germinated; most of those plants made it outdoors; and most of those thrived all season. And since I started those seeds before I had been schooled by Miss V, I consider last year my "start small" year.

But this year I'm going large. In addition to the seeds I collected last fall but failed to tag (Trial and Error 2010: Lesson One), I bought lavender, bachelor's button, cosmos, white coneflower, strawflowers, chives, sweet cicely (myrrh), chinese lantern, 'cherry brandy' rudbeckia, 'bright lights' swiss chard, dichondra (for hanging baskets), and verbena.

I am particularly excited about the strawflowers. The strawflower isn't a fancy plant; it's hardy and laid-back and prolific (the proletariat of the flower kingdom, if you will) but it's one of my favorites. I think I was in first grade when my grandpa tilled a small, circular patch between his rose garden and my favorite tree and told me it was mine. He said I could plant anything I wanted in it but that it was my responsibility. I loved that patch of dirt (soil?) because I loved to be anywhere my grandpa was, and I grew strawflowers in it.

22 comments:

Chemgeek said...

"poked a seed into each slot without regard to size"

te he he he he he

oh no you di'n't.

he he he he he... ooooooh...

um..oh.. and the part about Miss V. sound like Karate Kid. That was awesome.

mo.stoneskin said...

Are you expecting the strawflower to start a revolution? From what I've heard Marx kept strawflowers in his garden.

Eternally Distracted said...

You're very lucky - absolutely nothing grows here in the heat... except palm trees ;0)

Juz said...

Well done you!
The only think I do in the garden is, well, sit.
Thanks for giving me blog love.
xx
Justin

Scope said...

Fresh basil? That's an herb I can get behind.

otherworldlyone said...

I am gardening challenged. I can kill pictures of plants with one touch.

Pictures of your progress, yes?

Eva Gallant said...

I have 2 brown thumbs!

hello haha narf said...

i read all that shit you were gonna grow and did a little happy girl wiggle at the strawflowers. then you said that is what you were most looking forward to and i got this stupid happy smile on my face. somehow me liking the same flowers that a really official gardener likes makes me more likely to garden or some such shit.

hello haha narf said...

p.s. yay you for being all gungho this year! we expect more photos, ya know...

Fancy Schmancy said...

I'm sure you'll have much better luck than I did last year. I started a bunch of stuff from seed, and none of the little guys made it after transplant. Then the rest of my veggie garden rotted from the rain. I'm buying from Stop & Shop this year! But I'm rooting for you!

Melissa said...

Good luck! I did herbs last year from seed and they were going well until I went on vacation and my sister over watered them, they were moldy when we got back.

I also do a small garden in the summer for fresh veggies and basically wing it each year with pretty good results.

I started a compost pile last fall and have been adding to it all winter, should be nice and ripe in another month, and I am going to add that to the "soil" in the garden.

Any words of wisdom from Miss V, or anybody for that matter is appreciated.

Soda and Candy said...

Aww, I love lavender. And the strawflowers will rise up and crush the aristocracy!

words...words...words... said...

Every time I become comfortable with the fact that I will never own a house, I come across something like THIS.

THANKS.

(Also, good luck!)

SkylersDad said...

I plant my seeds wherever and as often as I can. And, I don't label shit, except perhaps "judgmental bitch"...

The Lady Who Doesn't Lunch: said...

Allow me to bask in your gardening goddess glory as I have no skills and no patience for such endeavors. The only thing I seem to be able grow is the mildew in my shower. It is thriving.

Dr Zibbs said...

I'm pissed because a huge tree is shading my famous THAT BLUE YAK GARDEN OF HOPE. And I don't have the cash right now to take it down.

Son of a Thomas said...

Planting herb. Don't get busted.

ttmac said...

I saved some zinnia seeds from V's zinnias if you wanna try a few of those too!

Whiskeymarie said...

Be warned- I have Chinese Lanterns (the orange kind) and they are SUPER invasive. Like, pulling them out of my lawn all summer invasive. Like, invading every plant bed within 20 feet invasive. Like, I will NEVER be able to get rid of them invasive. And for as much as I thought I'd love them when I planted them, meh- not so much. Lotsa green, not a lot of color.
They sure are pretty dried, though.

Sorry, nothing snarky- I'm too busy geeking out on gardening.

Mr. Condescending said...

can I eat the chives? And can you plant some mint, I like that too.

Anonymous said...

Listen to whiskeymarie! The Chinese Latern will take control! Likewise with coneflower, but it is easier to control and fun to share with friends. Oh and zinnia are the easiest to grow, the longest to bloom and last forever when picked for an arrangement! Happy gardening!!

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