Monday, November 21, 2011

Indoor crops

Today I am inspired by a post I read last week on Faith's blog, Gracefulfitness. Faith wrote about forcing paperwhites indoors, something I've never tried. I love the fragrance of those delicate flowers, as well as their cousins, daffodils. But I like the look of them outdoors, so I planted 50 daffodils over the weekend near the edge of a little pine grove at the far end of our front yard.

My indoor gardening is, of course, food. Because that's how I roll. (And if I don't quit coughing and don't get some energy back so that I can begin walking again, I will – literally – be rolling. I'm at the waddling stage right now. Kidding! I haven't gained a pound since I got sick. Un-effing-believable!)

So. Back to my indoor garden. The light was lovely the other day and I took lots of pictures of the current crop. Only one plant is purely decorative; the rest are producing fruit and herbs. In the case of the lime tree, lots o' fruit! See?

The entire garden, except for the lemon and lime trees, fits on a shelf. How handy!
The spider plant, in the large pot on the left, isn't just decorative. Spider plants purify the air, absorbing carbon dioxide. I rescued mine from an outdoor planter at summer's end. I've seen significant new growth and there are several shoots with little baby spider plants on them.
Three of the plants are herbs, and when I figure out what to do with the supplies currently stored on the lower shelf I intend to add more. Right now I'm growing chives, rosemary and something that I think is spearmint, but it could just be a weed. It tastes like spearmint and it hasn't killed me yet. I noticed it growing vigorously in the new landscape bed we installed this summer as I was cutting things back, so I popped it in a pot to see what would happen.
The rosemary and chives were well-established in my herb bed and I use both of them frequently when I cook, so it made sense (to me) to bring them indoors. Fresh herbs trump dried in my kitchen.
The other plant on the upper shelf is a new Meyer lemon tree. (I bought it before my daughter donated one to my collection.) It's only about six inches tall now, and it will be three years before it fruits. I think that shows extreme confidence in both my gardening skills and the quality of my health. Heh.

So what will I be adding to the lower shelf? Basil, basil and more basil, although I understand it's difficult to grow indoors. But I'm willing to try. I believe I've turned into a plant person.

For the past three years I've been dabbling in gardening, but feel like I've been on my way to being a real gardener. In that time, I've learned a lot and added some fruit (strawberries and blackberries) to the vegetable bed and general landscaping (apple trees).

The new landscaped bed in front of the house is purely decorative and I think that's what pushed me into the "real gardener" category. When you start growing things for how they look instead of for just how they taste, I think you've graduated. Will I ever be a master gardener? Not on your life. That takes a lot of work and effort and study and so far gardening has been fun, fun and more fun. I wouldn't want to change that for anything.

The bottom line is this: If you admire others' gardens and are tempted to dip your toe in the earth, so to speak, go ahead. You're not going to lose much if you have a crop failure. (You have no idea how disappointed I was to not get any butternuts this year. No idea!) You'll gain immense satisfaction when you see that first strawberry to add to your morning cereal, or asparagus soaring – literally – inches overnight (I highly recommend asparagus as a first crop, even though you'll have to wait a year to eat it), or the most magical of all – garlic, which survives in the ground over the winter to produce a truly bountiful harvest in July and opens up another bedding area to plant in late summer.

The possibilities and rewards are endless. And delicious!

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