Thursday, June 3, 2010

Grow Stuff

I like to grow stuff, especially from seed. There's something instinctively satisfying and awesome about burying tiny seeds in the ground and seeing something grow out of it. My favorite way to plant from seed is to save the seeds from whatever produce I just ate and throw them in the ground without learning anything about how to grow them. I think it's amazing to see that things just grow most of the time. Of course, I'm sure things grow better and faster and bigger and more often if you learn something about it. I'm sure yield of edible product increases if you fertilize properly and give them the right amount of sun and spray with organic pesticides and cloche (haha). If my diet depended on what I grew, I'm sure I would pay more attention - but I think it speaks to the robustness of a plant that it will just grow after being tossed into the three-square foot plot of terrible Texas clay I hacked up outside my apartment and surrounded with rocks. That excites me. And if I get something edible off that plant? Get out of town. I'm ecstatic. Not to mention that my kid will eat just about anything if it we grow it ourselves.
Now if you're a serious gardener, you're probably laughing at me, or you might even be angry that I'm being so irreverent about my herbology. But I think it's the exact opposite - I'm in awe of a plant's ability to grow in spite of everything that's against it: Texas sun, irregular watering, poor irrigation, terrible soil, pests, being tromped by little feet and soccer balls, weeds competing for resources... it's like Christmas when something green pokes its head out of the soil.
Since last summer, we've successfully grown basil, green beans, hibiscus and potatoes. We're working on kale, tomatoes, carrots and squash. I got nice long pumpkin vines with promising orange flowers (that attracted a couple of bees, which was encouraging) last year but eventually succumbed to powdery mildew. I planted them from the seeds I scraped out of our jack-o-lantern. And they freaking grew.

I had actually given up on our potatoes this year because a friend told me the soil here had to be tilled for potatoes. In a cloud of defeatism, I pulled two of my four potato plants out of the ground this morning only to find eeny teeny potatoes sitting in the dirt. AAHHH!!! I immediately apologized to the plants (like one does) and tried to replant them. Hopefully they won't be too traumatized. Here are the itsy bitsies in all of their glory.

I grew these from pieces of cut-up potatoes. The internets told me to let some potatoes sprout, cut them into chunks, leave the chunks out for a few days to turn black and callous over, then stick them in the ground. I did it, and it worked. Come on, isn't that AMAZING? Have you SEEN what happens to a potato when you cut it and leave it out for a day? It's GROSS. You do not look at that black bruise of a vegetable and think "Something tall and green will definitely pop out of that if I bury it."

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