Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Adventures in Gardening

I have always thought it would be a good idea to have a garden. Not only has the prophet said to plant a garden, it makes good solid sense for people on a tight budget to grow their own food. Plus I'm so worried about the chemicals we use to mass-produce things--it makes sense to grow my own organically.

The problem has always been that we end up on tour with Tim right when the garden needs tending, so we get it planted and then it dies.

Then I read this: http://lds.org/ensign/2011/03/seeds-of-self-reliance?lang=eng

Every other article on planting a garden ever has just made me feel guilty. This one succeeded in making me feel like I can DO it! The key was the idea that we could plant in medium or even small containers, and then if we go on tour we can literally box up our garden and take it to Aunt Donella and let her have the garden (since I know she would appreciate it and care for it and value the produce).

So the kids and I started collecting random containers--anything we think could possibly hold a plant.

We already had an avocado tree growing in a jar in the window sill (from guacamole we made for New Year's Day 2010). We had successfully grown pineapple plants (but not pineapples) from tops we cut off pineapples we bought at the grocery store, and pumpkin plants from seeds we saved from Jack-o-lanterns.

So when I fed the kids a butternut squash, I pulled out a handful of seeds, rinsed them off, and tossed them into some heavy, not-terribly-fertile dirt from near the front door that I spooned carelessly into a large yogurt container. Within a day a blade of grass had sprung up. I guess it was in the dirt already. Now, a couple of weeks of leaving it in the kitchen window sill later, I have 4 squash plants growing in my large yogurt container, and I realize it's too small for them. I'll have to re-plant them somewhere, but I don't know where! I honestly didn't think it would work to save seeds from our dinner and plant them.

But why not? They're good seeds. And we had the squash for dinner anyway.

So then when I opened the bag of carrots to make dinner and found the tops were sprouting, I saved them. Anda found a cereal box and said, "I think this is deep enough that carrots could grow in it! So she filled it full of dirt from the back yard and carefully pushed four carrot tops down into the soil in a nice row, and put it on my balcony. She checked it every day for a week, and the carrot plants were growing! So I went out to check it today and discovered that the cereal box was dissolving from the watering. So I put a grocery bag into a different cereal box and transferred the whole mess (it was a lot easier than it sounds--it just slid out the bottom of the soggy box right into the new, bag-lined box).  I have no idea how this will work. It's a double-wide cereal box, but we've never grown carrots before. So we'll see what happens.

Still, I'm excited that things are actually growing! That hasn't happened for us before.

My next musing in strawberries. Can we take a fresh strawberry and plant it with its leaves sticking up and have it grow? Will those tiny seeds germinate?

We also looked up mangoes online. I had dried 15 mangoes just to see what would happen (Tasty is what happened), so I saved the seeds, cracked them to get at the real seed part, and then followed instructions I found online (put them in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel, just like you do with beans to get them to sprout). Hopefully soon we'll have a mango tree, too.

Oh, and Anda re-potted the avocado tree in a shortening container. In dirt. It finally outgrew that jar of water on the windowsill.

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