Getting Dirty

An MFRW Author Post – And check out the other blogs on the hop!

 

I killed my sage.

My mother, a formally-trained botanist who owned her own organic gardening company for several years, tells me that sage is very hard to kill.

I tell her I killed it.

She says I must be very talented, indeed. She is a good mother.

I am trying to be a good mother, and thankfully I am trying on vegetation and nothing more human-y because I am not doing a very good job.

In my defense, container gardening is very difficult. In my defense, we are in 95-degree monsoon weather here in Nashville. In my defense, I am trying.

Things appear to be getting better. My sunflowers are a little droopy, but I grew the seedlings into three-foot tall flowering buds and I’m damn proud of that. I have two large pots of tomatoes that I caged this weekend and they’re doing very well. My peppers are demanding a larger pot and they’re bright and green and happy. All the babies, born from seeds, fostered with love.

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I’m even growing avocados from pits, which my very supportive boyfriend finally cut off because apparently, eight alien-like cups of germinating avocado pits on the counter is enough. For some people, I guess.

I killed all the herbs. I think it had to do with the apartment heat and then the apartment air conditioning. I definitely over-watered them and there wasn’t proper drainage in the cute, but maybe not so effective wall mount I got. I think the strawberry plant is dead too. It was too hot too quickly, so I learned my lesson there.

The citrus trees mom bought for me back in December arrived last week and pricked my thumb when I replanted them. I think the lemon tree was DOA, but the little tangerines and the lime seem to be doing alright.

I killed two succulents. 

It’s even harder to kill succulents than sage.

But the ivy and periwinkle in the window, two large pots, are spilling over and nearly double in size. I’ll have to get larger pots for them soon.

IMG_7442Gardening is messy. It is expensive and time-consuming. It is unpredictable and uncontrollable. And that is a good thing. When I bake cookies, I can measure out the exact amount of baking soda I need. When I go to the gym, I can set goals for quicker miles or higher weights. Existence is easier when there is control and calm and focus, when the numbers add up and the ends meet.

But life isn’t calm and focused and even the most type A personality will eventually find they can’t control everything, not the amount of rain that falls from the sky or the temperature of a southern summer or even the health of the plants we start with.

IMG_7419Gardening is a lesson in managing the unmanageable. We can arm ourselves with the right tools and educate ourselves on the right care. But sometimes knowing in advance isn’t enough. We have to be able to respond to things as they happen. We have to know how to react when nature doesn’t go exactly according to plan, because very rarely does anything go exactly according to plan.

I spent several hours this weekend planting and cleaning up my balcony. It’s not a very large space, but it’s just perfect for practicing skills I plan to use in the future.

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If we ever manage to find ourselves a house, I’d like to know how to create a more sustainable life. I’d like to know the signs of over or under-watering, I’d like to be an in an educated position to respond to whatever my garden–or my day–may throw at me.

Gardening is imperfect. So is life. The trick to them both is to arm yourself with a good trowel and expect that it won’t turn out as expected. Some days, you may kill the sage. But other days, you may peek out your window to that little patch of balcony, and catch a glimpse of a bright yellow sunflower turned up toward the sky.

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