Monday, June 11, 2012

Just call me Farmer Val.

Okay, so maybe Farmer is stretching it a bit.

But, I've come a long way, baby. From black thumb to *turning green* thumb!

I've had a problem in the past. I love flowers. I love to plant flowers. And apparently I've loved killing flowers because that's pretty much what happened to all of them, year after year.

Last summer was no exception on a few plants, but I chalk that up to the unbearably 100-plus-degree--every-ding-dong-day-for-months-on-end summer we *enjoyed*, but there were two plants that survived. I purchased two Boston fern hanging plants last spring from Lowe's (on clearance) to hang on our front porch, and at the end of the fall last year, I got the wild idea to bring them inside to see if I could keep them alive. My husband screwed two hooks into the ceiling of our sunroom ("playroom"), bought clear plastic dishes to hang on the bottom of each to catch the drips when I watered them, and sure enough, those babies survived. No, they didn't just survive, they thrived. And like any good mother, I threatened my boys that they better not mess up my ferns in the playroom or they were going to be sorry. Ha.

I think it kind of even turned into a game/challenge for me to try and reverse my killer thumbs. And I'm not gonna lie -- I started talking to those ferns on occasion when I would water them, telling them how beautifully they were growing. Hey, they're living creatures, too, so I figured it couldn't hurt.

So they are back out on the front porch, happy as can be, and monstrously huge. I already had to replant one of them in a bigger hanging container, and I'm pretty sure the other one is ready for a bigger container as well. My husband and I love sitting out on our porch especially at night, watching the bats swooping above our street, and with the addition of the outdoor curtains, it's our own little private sanctuary. And you can't even hear the screaming children upstairs in their rooms...haha...

I also have a table full of herbs in small pots -- lemon thyme, spearmint (solely for sniffing because what are we going to actually do with it?), rosemary, cilantro, basil (oh my heavens, is this ever coming out of our ears, so if you live by me and want some, come and get it), and my personal favorite, catnip. We love the new game of torture-the-kitties-with-the-pretty-green-leaves. It's hilarious. That's right, we're totally fueling our kitties drug habits...

This year I told my husband I wanted to try something new -- vegetables! At first I thought about building a raised bed or two, but then I thought maybe we should start smaller this year to make sure we could hack it. So we decided to start with tomatoes and bell peppers and plant them in containers. I was a bit frustrated at first when I found out how expensive five-gallon gardening containers are (times five), but then we got the genius idea to purchase paint buckets (only a couple bucks each) and drill holes in the bottom for drainage. That's right, redneck gardening at it's finest! Although I give myself props for picking the more stylish silver Lowe's buckets than the neon orange Home Depot ones (no offense, Home Depot, I still love you).


It worked.

We have two Cherokee purple heirloom tomato plants (you've never tasted a more delicious tomato, I promise) with several big beauties just waiting to turn purplish-red. We did have a few more tomatoes growing on those plants, but they ended up having "blossom end rot" and I regretfully had to prune them off in the hopes of saving the others. I was proud of myself though, for diagnosing them based off what I researched on the internet, and we found a solution at our local nursery to add to the soil to hopefully prevent any more of that.

We also have an Arkansas Traveler tomato plant with tons of tomatoes waiting to ripen. Thank you, local neighborhood Walmart grocery store, for that $3 bargain. Just like any good weirdo, I picked that plant solely on it's name because I know all of the words to the folk song, "The Arkansas Traveler". Want me to sing it for you? No? Alrighty, but you're missing out...

Then there are the two bell pepper plants, one orange and one yellow (my two favorite types of bell peppers). I prefer them over red and green. I think right now we have nine big peppers just waiting to turn colors.

My kids brought home Dixie cups filled with dirt (and supposedly seeds) from school, of course, and only one survived. Supposedly we have ourselves a punkin' growing. Guess we'll be waiting to see if it actually bears us a little orange surprise this fall.

Then my husband got in the act and purchased something he'd obviously been salivating over from the "As Seen on TV" ads. What is it with men and "As Seen on TV" crap? Huh? That's right, he brought home not one, but two Topsy Turvy upside down tomato planters. (You know, because one wouldn't have been enough.) And how do you hang two, you might ask? Well, you go ahead and shell out the buckaroos for the Topsy Turvy big metal contraption to hold them!

But who is eating crow now?

That's right, little ol' me. Those Topsy Turvy thingamajigs are working! He stuffed them with strawberry plants, cherry tomato plants, heirloom tomato plants, and pepper plants, and sure enough, we've got ourselves a mini-hanging garden loaded with produce. And I've gotten in on the act and now prune those plants every morning, pinching off the dead leaves, etc., which seems to be making them grow even faster.

Our nerdiness has only manifested itself with each morning that brings a "Hey, look at this! It's ripening!" or a "Hey, look at that! There's really a tomato growing on our plant!". We're like two little bratty kids in a candy store, giddy with the thrills that growing our first edible wonders can bring. And of course, we're already dreaming and scheming of what we'll add to next year's garden.


Sara said...

I love that you were able to incorporate "Bazinga" into your post. : )

~Michelle~ said...

Urban Farmer Val! ;) How long ago did you plant? Still waiting for my "super awesome" tomato (for real, that's the variety) to start ripening (it's been 2 months)...but it has been overcast in SoCal, so maybe that's the problem...

Jonni Baloney said...

I'll be stopping by to pick up tomatoes. :)

Country Dreaming said...

We've had a garden for three years now and still get excited when things start to bloom!

Have fun.