Gardening from Scratch


Happy Spring everybody! Let the gardening season begin. This year I decided to grow more plants from seed and I’m having a blast. I know I started too early, the first weekend in February, but cabin fever was at such a pitch that it overcame my better judgment.

My seed-starter kit has a water-reservoir in the bottom that keeps the soiless mix moist. It sits on my desk in front of an east-facing window, so I can check frequently to see what’s growing. The Mesculun mix, cherry and Cherokee tomatoes, and Galeux d’Eysines pumpkin have all moved on into their transplant pots. What remains are the miniature fans of Candy Lily (Pardancanda), seedlings of Columbine (Aquilegia), and a couple of stray tomatoes that came up after I disturbed the starter mix.

Last year, I bought an inexpensive greenhouse on wheels at Lowe’s for $35 in order to buy garden center plants early and hold them over until they could go into the ground. This year, I put it indoors, without its plastic cover, in front of the French doors. It holds my transplants and rootings of Coleus and Begonia. On rainy days, a Gro-light compensates for the lack of sun.

I didn’t really start this gardening from scratch to save money, but rather to make sure I’d have the plants I loved. Commercial growers are so much in the same mode as the fashion industry these days; always a new color, spikier leaves, different growth habit, that it sometimes becomes very difficult to find the right old-fashioned flower in the right old-fashioned color. There’s something to be said, too, for the always-magical experience of being able to watch your own seeds sprout and grow.

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