by Mireille Bourgeois
One of the most surprising things to me in my new gardening hobby is the great anticipation I feel when looking at my seedlings. I am desperate to plant them outside. I was wholly unprepared to start indoor gardening, lots of gardeners begin indoors. But not having a greenhouse, or shelving system to stack my many seedlings, especially when I realized I should be starting some second sowings to make sure I would have enough seedlings that would survive, and also to make sure that I’d have harvest through the summer if they did… Was something I discovered as I went. Most of all, I’m desperately curious to see if they will survive and provide a small harvest, at the very least.
The floor below my window is a mini, and beautifully green garden, and my boyfriend curses every night while trying to pull the curtains closed, twisting and balancing, almost falling on the precious things.
What has been the most fulfilling however is seeing what will actually GROW. I’ve had mixed results with planting flower seeds, they don’t seem to germinate very well for me, but I think I was using old seeds. Some gardeners have success germinating seeds between wet paper towels before planting in soil. I’ve tried it with some of my peppers and herbs which worked well, maybe I’ll have a go for the flower seeds. That being said, the sunflowers and marigold I planted are taking off, and they will be really an exciting addition to some flower beds I have started while waiting to plant.
Also, growing herbs from seeds has been a SLOW process. From what I’ve read, this is normal, but I did buy a few grown herbs plants that I can’t wait to try outside. The BBQ Rosemary, Lemon Balm, Lemon Carpet Thyme, and Greek Oregano look great, were affordable, and are from Sweet Valley Herbs. I had to throw away the gnat infested squash, cucumbers and beets. Surprisingly, no tears were shed, I have read these are better started outdoors anyhow. The two biggest surprises were how my peppers took off! Sweet, regular, and 3 different kinds of hot peppers, and also the celery core I planted from the grocery store is starting to sprout some lovely leaves!
A friend of mine posted on my facebook about planting celery cores. As soon as I saw this I filled up a pot full of soil and ran to my fridge to look for old celery. I took one out and cut apart the core, one straight chop, and stuck it in the soil. I watered or sprayed it everyday from the top, straight into the leaves, and one week later, a solid two inches had grown! I’m of course completely fascinated and I can’t help myself from sticking everything into the ground now to see if it will grow. I started sneaking lettuce and toy choy cores from the kitchen during dinner preparation to stick it in the soil… My boyfriend keeps joking with me “want to see if this will grow???” holding up random veggies and objects…. Fair enough, but it seems that vegetation has a hold of me.
I’m starting to harden off my lettuce, marigolds, and leeks and onions, but the rest still have a couple of weeks to go until the weather isn’t, well… shitty. Yes, it has been pretty terrible weather lately, windy, rainy, more rain, so much rain that some of the perennials I planted were either broken in half, ripped, or plain old buried in the soil in a muddy puddle. After hand-washing my flowers this morning, and mulching, I really hope they will be protected from the next bad weather spell.
What does a gardener do when they can’t plant and are waiting for their planter boxes to be built for their vegetables? landscape the rest of the yard of course. I am lucky to have a brother who is a landscaper. He answers my random calls. “you busy?” “yes” “well just a quick question: is it ok for me to mulch right now?” “uhm… sure? Why not?” “I don’t know, maybe this type of flower doesn’t do well with mulch..?” “it’s fine” “ok thx bye!”. One Saturday, he came over to loan us some garden tools and pretty much redesigned the back yard with us. Hard and fulfilling work. “That’s why they call it working the land” my brother says happily.
There was a fence to take down, lots of weeds and shrubs to pull out, and some beautiful bluestone to salvage. New soil was laid down and new shrubs dropped in. What you see above and below (not in bloom yet): one of three vegetable planter boxes (lovingly made from the old fence by my BF ;)), Some jerusalem artichoke still rooting to the left, a birch, mock-orange tree (blooms white and smells like oranges), another birch, big beautiful stone (already sunk in) with a strawberry patch in front of it and a white rose-bush behind it, a blue lilac tree, and three yews (and another birch). We’ve since planted a few lilies in front of the yews for color, and a bunch of blackberries behind this whole garden so that neighborhood peeps don’t trudge though (there are many little shortcut paths behind our house). In the right corner, we’ll plant a grape-vine and use the old fence as a trellis. I’m also going to turn that old BBQ into a big mixed flower planter!
I have three new flower beds to show you, but I’ll wait until I have a proper before-and-after picture to show the progress. In conclusion, I’m very impatient. I think that’s my lesson. I had been waiting for a hobby to take up my time, but to also help me de-stress. What I’m learning from gardening, is that de-stressing doesn’t always mean letting all your energy out like I do in hiking or even cooking like a maniac. Sometimes it means conserving it for later, relaxing, learning to wait, and practicing patience. With gardening, there is no beginning and end. I’m reading about the early starter gardener and the late season gardener for example (I’m reading Niki Jarbour’s book which is teaching me more than I can handle right now: in a good way). But also, there are multiple levels of beauty between planting and fully grown. I have to learn to love the buds as much as I love the blooms. I leave you with three beautiful “buds”. The persistent hosta, the emerging garlic, and the beautiful blue lilac.