Friday, April 4, 2014

My Gray-Green Thumb

There are times I really want to grow plants.  It gives me this feeling of accomplishment to turn bare earth into green things even though the plants are really doing all the work and I'm just watering them.  Last year, I tried to grow a tiny garden in the small amount of yard we had.  I also put some flowers along the walk in front of our door.

...Nothing really grew.

I mean, I got a few sprouts, but that was pretty much it.

And this year, I don't have a yard.  So I decided to do something else with the space I have.  Growing things in pots!  Yay!

To that end, I started looking for good plants to grow in pots.  I have a basil plant that my friend Nicole started for me last summer ish, which is a good several inches tall now, but still hasn't been branching enough to actually provide me with all that much usable fresh basil.  Nicole and I also got a few seeds at a garden shop a while ago - I picked up some lavender and some rosemary - and those are starting in little toilet paper tubes on my kitchen counter.  So far, there's a good many sprouts in one and two or three in the other.  I wish I remembered which was which.  And that I knew when to transfer them to their bigger pot.

The other thing I decided to do was get some already-started plants, and these were going to be bigger.  I have, for a long time (since my mom used to get gardening catalogues a long time ago), wanted to grow a mini fruit tree.  A pomegranate or apple or orange tree would be awesome.  However, looking at the options I had on the nursery site I chose, I decided to go with a Tophat Blueberry bush.  They're bred for indoor/patio growth, and get to be about 2 ft. in any direction max.  I also decided to get a bunch of strawberry starts and grow them in the kitchen.

So I prepped everything for the time that they'd come.  I got pots from Home Depot and potting soil to go with it; I got a wire shower caddy to strap to my wire shelves in the kitchen for the purpose of holding strawberry pots; I ordered plant food and starter (from the nursery because they had a money-back deal that meant it cost about as much to add strawberry fertilizer and blueberry soil as to just get the plants) and then I waited.  (Meanwhile my nephew came over one Sunday and enjoyed playing with the big 5-gallon pot destined to hold a blueberry bush.  I wish I had pictures or video of that - it was adorable.)

Finally, about 2 weeks ago, my plants arrived!  Hooray!  I planted them in the prepared pots, put them where I thought they'd get sufficient sun, tried to water them enough, and... waited more.
This is what it looked like when it came.
Not so much anymore.

Well, this is where the gray part of my thumb comes in.  The strawberries started off promisingly, but the blueberry bush began to wilt almost immediately.  I thought, probably just shock from moving.  It'll get over it soon.  It didn't.  Well, maybe it needs more water.  Nope.  It was pretty well saturated.  So... should I stop watering it?  Maybe more light?  I'd had the windows open to give it light and the overhead light on a lot, but it just wouldn't stop wilting.  Move it outside?  Yes!  Wait, no, temperatures are freezing at night.  Meanwhile, half of the strawberries, even the ones that had been growing well, began to collapse and shrivel.  Plus the potting soil I chose seems to be the "Outdoor/Indoor if you don't mind it stinking" variety so our kitchen smells like there's something going bad.  Which makes it hard to detect if something else is going bad.

I finally moved the blueberry bush to our back room which is by far the sunniest in the house and its leaves have stopped turning brown at quite such an alarming rate, and I put a few of the worst-looking strawberries in the kitchen window in the hopes that more sun will perk them up.  But I think this apartment is also not the best one for a garden.

One day I'm going to get a house.  With a real yard.

Update 4/9:  The blueberry bush hasn't lost any more leaves, so I think it appreciates the sunnier locale. Which leaves only the question of what I'm going to do with it when I need that room?  As for the strawberries, well, I finally got sick of the flies that seemed to come with the manure-smelling potting soil (very very peeved about that stuff) and I moved them outside.  Two of the six were still green-ish when I did that, three were looking pretty terrible, and one was about 6 times as large as the others mostly because I cheated and picked up one strawberry plant from the grocery store.  But I wanted one that made me feel like not a complete plant killer.

Update 8/4:
I am a horrible plant nurturer.  I think my buying plants basically dooms them to a short, miserable life.

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