Time to start “growing and picking” before “preparing and eating”.
A few days off this weekend gave me a window of time to turn my interest in urban gardening into a reality. I love food. But growing a garden was appealing beyond the unmistakable freshness—it gives me a sense of assurance. I know where my food is coming from, what is in the soil and I’ve massaged away that disconnect between consumer and product. As for sustainability? The only food miles I’m clocking are the 15 steps from my kitchen out the sliding glass door.
Internet sites and my mom’s wisdom have provided a crash-course in growing the greens. This summer my partner and I are renting my younger sister’s two-bedroom apartment with a patio about the size of a family sedan. Fortunately, on the second story of the building the east-facing patio receives glorious sunshine.
Last week a colleague of mine mentioned that Home Depot had “salad bowls” on sale for $11. When I calculated how much I spend on organic romaine every week, the thing practically paid for itself in two weeks. By Saturday afternoon, Home Depot was sold out of the salad bowls, but it was bursting with “buy one get one” herbs. I rounded up containers of basil, oregano, cilantro and chives. Then I decided to put my own salad pot together and purchased romaine and two containers of simpson elite lettuce.
Later that night at Mom and Dad’s house, I stole some potting soil and gardening tips from my mom and began planting in terra cotta pots and window buckets. Digging my hands in the cool soil gave me child-like joy and I even recruited my partner to help.
The next morning I woke up at 7 a.m. and was plant-crazy. Now I had invested in these little critters, I was responsible for their lives and I didn’t want them to die. At around 8 a.m. I had a coffee in hand and bounced from location to location picking up potting soil, gardening tools and a shelf. I even accumulated bell peppers, kale, dill, fennel and mint (mojitos anyone?!) along the way.
I turned the patio into my own paradise of empty black plastics containers, spilled soil and freshly planted pots. I watered the treasures with some plant food and prayed I did not drown them. I stick to succulents indoors, so the amount of water required for the vegetables felt like a torrential downpour.
By Monday morning, the shock from the transplanted plants had worn off and the once sagging limbs had perked right up. Success.
Some of the herbs are ready to go into my breakfast this morning and some more will be used at lunch time. Inevitably I will mess up; but until then, I look forward to conquering this learning curve and eating along the way.
Some useful links to getting started:
 As I learned, terra cotta will wick water from the soil and therefore requires extra plant watering.