Here’s WHY my garden grows…
I like to be dirty (truly dirty, real dirt on my hands, knees and feet.) I’ve always been this way, any member of my family will tell you. And my husband can even attest to the fact that when I couldn’t get my hands filthy with soil, I’d settle for the next best thing… cigarette ash and the filth that only comes from living in a van or warehouse with 5 of the grodiest dudes around.
In every apartment, punk house, warehouse (and there’s been a few) or quaint suburban home I’ve ever lived in, I’ve attempted a garden. Sometimes they’ve produced… sometimes they didn’t. But I’ve always had the same overwhelming sense of delight when I see the first Tomato on the vine or sprout poking through the caliche that I’m hoping will pass for soil one day.
When I was 18 I had a house on Eastwood Drive in Vegas… Not a nice place to call home. But I was hell bent on growing something… anything. So when I wasn’t riding my scooter back and forth to the rehearsal studio, I spent my days tearing out a Cypress tree and planting herbs under the front window. My lesson: When ALL ELSE FAILS – Arugula will survive.
At 19 I lived in a huge warehouse off of Presido & Highland. Another rehearsal space. After making friends with a guy down the street with a burgeoning Hydroponic shop and crossing paths daily with my would be husband (YES! Jesse). I gave a grow room a whirl. Woah. Fears of helicopters with infrared capabilities finding me out ended that potential career pretty quick. But not before I spent months with my nose in a book learning all that I could about propagation and light/dark phases.
The punk house off Eastern I rented at 20, had little more than a pathetic little cherry tomato plant in a plastic pot to garden… with a fake ID and a house full of gear, my attention was elsewhere. That poor plant lived on little more than sheer will and bi-monthly waterings… but at the end of it all. The day I moved out… I noticed one bright shiny cherry tomato!
Later that year I rented a room from my friend Rick… and after I put a pothos or spider plant in every room and windowsill available, I ventured outside. Straight to the front yard of course! As not to disturb Perry the burrowing hound in the backyard. One trip to Lowes and a full blazer later my lover arrived home from work to find me sporting a homemade bikini, on a lounge chair, in the dirt lot we called the lawn. Surrounded by plants not even out of the six packs and plastic yet… all carefully placed around a blue kiddie pool. I’m sure this was the moment he fell in Love.
Our first little Love Nest together as a couple was across from UMC in what we referred to as the “Servants Quarters” of the Scotch Eighties. We moved everything we had formerly in 1500 sq ft into 900. There were house plants everywhere and little glasses with cuttings on every available surface. On my 22nd birthday that year we told everyone we left town, went to Home Depot with $100 and planted our first garden together. Ugly and rudimentary, yes… but produce it DID! We had tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and more. Each piece of produce had tiny little wiener dog bites taken out of them.
From there I found myself at “The Club House” for the next three years… and while you might think being the only semi-responsible member of a band full of maniacs would keep me pretty busy… I did find time to care for my plants. An especially funny story was when the guy next door came over to tell us the place was haunted, we left and returned a couple hours later to find one of my pothos in a terra-cotta pot burnt to a crisp and smoldering where it stood! No smoke, No company, No lighters, matches or candles around. Freaky right? Well Jesse let me think it was “the Ghost” for about a year and a half before he finally cop’d to sticking a freshly lit Nag Champa in the soil right before we left the building. Mystery Solved! And not a minute too soon.
When I was 25 we moved into a suburban neighborhood with a yard, started planning our wedding and all of a sudden found ourselves full time parenting a couple of kids. THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY DEGREES. Well working the soil has a way of helping ease frustrations… by spring I had removed rocks, brush and turned an 11’x 5′ area by hand. I did the same thing each spring for the next 3 years… including the year I did it 6 months pregnant. Refusing help and an offer to rent a rototiller. The fruits of my labor never tasted so good.
And in 2010 we bought our first home. After 10 years together with all these rag tag plants and gardens we find ourselves in the house of our dreams starting fresh.
And that’s why I do it… because I’m still trying to get it right.
Here’s an update on all of the veggies. I’m also happy to report that with my last show (for a while) over and out of the way, I’ll be gardening and blogging a lot more. With temperatures on the rise & sales at the nursery on the horizon I’m sure I’ll have a lot to talk about too!!
The Radishes: The good news is that they adjusted to the “thinning” just fine and even the rows I planted in the trenches recovered well and are growing just fine. The bad news is the birds ran out of olives after we raked last weekend and took out the first row of seedlings. I think we’re about 10 days away from our first harvest!!
The Carrots: As it turns out, the carrots seeds I thought I killed with my watering by osmosis experiment, came up! Just as the package would have suggested too, If you know me its not a surprise… patience is not something I excel at. We still have a while to go, I haven’t even thinned them yet… But I was pleasantly surprised to see that this method of watering worked even with seeds.
NEW!! Eggplant & Onions: Just this weekend my sweet nice husband surprised me with $60 to do what I wanted with in the garden! I took (his) hard earned money to STAR Nursery this time, to see if the prices were any cheaper (they were). I picked up a bunch of veggies… ‘Black Beauty’ Eggplant and some Green Onions are what I planted here.
Tomatoes, Lettuce & NEW!! Corn: Well you can see that planting the tomatoes the 2nd weekend in March didn’t do them any harm… even though we did get a little freeze after they were in the ground. All varieties are thriving, the only one that seems to be struggling is the Roma (my hound dog got at it), but even it’s still doing well.
Also, I added some ‘Yellow Pear’ Tomatoes this weekend and ‘White’ Corn stalks against the wall… more for Gadzuki’s amusement than anything.
NEW!! Squash, Zucchini & Peppers: Last weekend we removed a HUGE planter from the patio and moved it over by the tomatoes. This weekend I cleaned it out and planted. Thats why the majority of my budget at STAR Nursery went to mulch & soil. But I did manage to pick up some ‘Yellow’ Squash, ‘Italian’ Zucchini, ‘Japanese’ Cucumbers, and ‘Armenian’ Cucumbers for the bottom level. My idea is that they can climb over the edge and down to the ground. And on top we have ‘Yellow’ Bells, ‘Anaheim’ Chiles, ‘Green’ Bells and Jalapenos.
Some exciting news!! One of my gardens is going to be photographed for a local magazine this week AND one of the students from Mrs Henderson’s Science class got so excited about my compost that she’s started her very own!!
Next: We’ll check in on the seedlings I started in the garage and later in the week we’ll get an official temperature on the compost!
Today I got schooled… and loved every minute of it.
We hit the ground running, picking up Lopez and heading out to Broad Acres swap meet. Where I scored a sweet pitch fork ($4.00)… and heard a fantastic story about an urban youth holding another fellow up by the neck with the afore mentioned implement of death. Plus, a lovely gift for Gilby. Lopez picked up a Muno shirt, SCORE!
I was pleased when we were heading back to the Hotel Amoroso with enough time to spare for me to finally catch one of the weekly workshops that Plant World offers on gardening. Todays theme: Leslie Doyle – The Tomato Lady. The hour I spent listening was awfully educational and embarrassingly humbling. The experience was free and I’ll go over all of the notes I took in tomorrows blog. Until then, you can visit her website the Sweet Tomato Test Garden.
After a quick trip to the dollar store where I picked up some fertilizer, flower seeds & peat cups for seedlings cheap ($4.00)! Oh, and Tamales I bought out of a ladies trunk in the parking lot for tonight’s dinner, we reconvened a the house.
With the usual suspects just happening by, we had an impromptu Mexican Fiesta and everybody stuck around until I announced I was finally putting on the documentary DIRT!
I’ve been talking so much about. Please watch this movie. Even if you’re not a gardener, even if you’re not an environmentalist and most of all it you’ve lived your whole life in a city.
Its a simple reminder that if we’re all doing the best we can, we can accomplish a lot.
Thats it for tonight. Its the weekend, and I love my family too much to stare at this screen much longer. Hope you’ve planted well this weekend. I ironically do LESS gardening on the weekend than I do during the normal week.
Tomorrow: we’ll go over some of the tricks that Leslie Doyle has up her sleeve when it comes to planting in Las Vegas.