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Patio gardening

Gardening with a Black Thumb

I’ve never said I have a green thumb, or any other green body parts. If anything, I have a track record of killing plants – including a cactus.

My Little Urban Garden - November 2015

My Little Urban Garden – November 2015

Nevertheless, I decided I wanted to get into urban gardening – just a few herbs and edible plants on my patio which mainly serves as Rosie’s sun porch and stick chewing area. A few months ago, I started a little garden – 6 pots of peas, cucumbers, green beans, broccoli, and parsley. It had a good start with little sprouts were coming out of the ground. And then I went on a trip to a conference and I was concerned that they got too dry while I was gone so I soaked them water upon my return – and drowned some of the plants.

I warned you I have a black thumb.

I think I had to replant all of the peas and some of the green beans. The second plant times were outside the optimal planting times so we’ll see if these plants produce anything edible. So far, I don’t have a lot of hope for the cucumbers or the broccoli. They’re growing, but I don’t see them producing anything that looks like food. Conversely, I think I spied the start of my first bean pod the other day.

Oh yes, I’m still a big science dork when it comes to my garden. I’m out there every morning when I get up and every afternoon when I come home from work, looking for new growth.

Other people have said this before, and I definitely agree, that maintaining a garden is therapeutic. Unlike other aspects, gardening is something I can never and will never do perfectly. All I can do is provide sun, soil, and water, and hope that my plants will grow. And there’s something calming about working in the dirt. There was at least one night this fall where I felt extremely agitated but 15 minutes of gardening (replanting seeds after the accidental flood), I felt so much better.

I’m looking forward to seeing if I’ll get any crops to harvest and applying the knowledge from this experience to my winter plantings. I wonder if squash and peppers will be more resilient to neophyte gardener mistakes. My patio doesn’t get as much sun as I’d like so I may expand part of the garden to the area just outside my patio wall that gets more direct sun – especially if I want to try to grow raspberries and cantaloupe.

Day 85/90 – Becoming an Urban Farmer

Day 85 of the 90 Days of Awesome is in the bank! What made today awesome? I learned about urban gardening!

Rosie enjoyed her first visit to Changing Hands

Rosie enjoyed her first visit to Changing Hands

My condo has a good-size concrete patio. Since we moved in, I’ve wanted to do something with it besides brush Rosie on it. A few years ago, I was impressed and envious when my friend Thomas did all-edible landscaping around his house. Especially now that I’m eating less processed foods and more vegetables, I thought it would be fun (and hopefully relaxing) to plant a small garden.

Tonight Rosie and I got a basic education on desert gardening at a talk by Greg Peterson of The Urban Farm at Changing Hands in Tempe called “Jumpstart your Fall Garden.” Greg told us how to have healthy soil and the best types of sun exposure for growing things. One of his key lessons was “observe your surroundings.” Pay attention to what’s growing, where it grows, and what microclimates are in your garden area. My concrete patio gets western sun exposure which should be good for gardening from mid-September until early May.

One of the most encouraging things Greg said was, “I’ve killed more plants than you have.” Historically, I’ve been afraid to grow things because I have a track record of killing plants – including a cactus. My goal with my garden is to have the experience of tending plants and I hope I break even in regards to what I spend setting up my garden (and I’m doing it on a budget) and how much food I harvest from my plants.

Greg also told us about the free desert planting calendar on his website that tells you the best time to grow certain plants. Based on his calendar, I should plant broccoli, cucumber, green beans, garlic, and peas this winter and hold off on planting squash, peppers, and melons until the spring.

I hope to devote some time during the next few weeks to observing where the sun hits my patio, getting pots, soil, seeds, and plants and setting my garden. Greg also suggested that we name our urban gardens. I wonder what I’ll call mine.

In case you missed it: Day 84 of the 90 Days of Awesome – Doing my own thing.