Monday, February 22, 2016

Embracing the gardening bug!

For the past couple of years, I have noticed a recurring theme in my behavior when the beginning of the year comes around. I seem to get bitten badly, by the gardening bug..I mean! I dream of seeds, regular and exotic. I surf gardening blogs like they are going to become extinct. I make notes (in my head, of course) of all the different types of vegetables that can be easily grown in the home garden. It doesn't help that there are gardeners out there, with exceptional blogs, who showcase such beautiful harvests that are definitely drool-worthy. I await warmer temperatures with a fervor that only a fellow gardening enthusiast can understand!!!
By no means do I consider myself an expert, an amateur at the most, with some small success in growing certain vegetables. I don't have self sufficiency in home grown vegetables, meaning I definitely have to spend my money at the grocery store. But that does not mean that I cant dream about it :D

Things that are currently growing at home:

My curry leaf plant that has been babied and cosseted and pampered and is rewarding me by growing steadily :) I am going to prune the tops off in the spring to encourage more branching. 


The lemon grass experiment: I bought some healthy looking firm stalks from the Indian grocery store and rooted them in water. Then, I stuck them in the ground and watered them when they looked dry and pretty much ignored them after that. When winter was about to set in last year, I harvested the outer most thick stalks and gave them away to friends. Surprisingly, they survived the winter and seem to be holding steady!

My lemongrass bush has also survived the winter here and was recently given a haircut. I still need to trim it a little bit more and make it look neater. I love the lemony clean scent of its leaves. What I don't like is the Resident Rabbit who seems to think hiding behind my bush makes him invisible {grrr}

My chili seeds (Baker Creek Thai Green) and tomato seeds (Roma tomatoes from Home Depot) have already germinated. The reason I am starting the tomatoes so soon is because peak summer brings really soaring temperatures here in the North Dallas area and the poor tomato plants cannot bear any fruits then. So they need to get a flying start even before they are transplanted into the ground.


Some for me and some to be shared with friends.

Gardening is hard work. What (and how you sow), so shall you reap! (This was most probably coined by a gardener and then was used as an allegory to life!). Planning, organization, preparing the beds, sowing seeds, removing weeds, watering consistently, fertilizing if required, checking and dealing with pests - these are all required tasks to do in the garden and in order to harvest anything worthwhile, one must certainly be prepared to put in time, effort and last but not the least, patience!!!
But having said that, I can also say that gardening - in all its wonderful forms is almost cathartic. Working systematically and methodically in the garden, paying attention to the soil running in between your hands, inhaling the intoxicating fragrance of wet soil, tending to the seedlings and plants and the utter joy in getting the (literal) fruits of your efforts is enthralling. The best stress buster that I can think of, that also lets you get a healthy dose of air and sunshine.

Coming back to my little patch, I didn't plan for any spring harvests, but a few green onions that I had planted last fall have overwintered and to my utter surprise have also divided into more plants!
Considering that they started as root ends of store bought green onions that I stuck in the ground, that looks like a great return on investment for basically sticking them in and then forgetting all about them!
I have used up the tops of these spring onions several times as garnishes on my potatoes. I will pull them up as and when I need them so that I can make space for fresh ones soon.

Another experiment: I selected about 12 - 14 firm cloves of garlic and planted them out in a corner of my vegetable bed in the fall. They seem to be growing well. I mulched them with some shredded leaves and watered them occasionally. I havent fertilized them.

There is a serious dearth of flowers in my garden now and I want to rectify that. To that end, I have started some asters and zinnias also. Hopefully I can grow some nice flowers this year.

I still have some prepare my beds before I can start sowing directly in the ground. But I am really looking forward to the growing season. For inspiration and visual treats, do check out
Every Monday, gardeners from all over showcase their vegetable beds and harvests and their low of gardening and self sufficiency is truly amazing.

I hope to be more regular with my posts here, so wish me luck.
Until then - May the grass always be greener on your side of the fence :)