Wednesday, May 26, 2004


I love to grow stuff, mostly vegetables, but also certain kinds of flowers, like Sunflowers. My favorite part about growing stuff is that you can actually watch it grow. I'm an immediate gratification kind of person. I don't want to wait a really long time for outcome. I am most likely to get bored and move on to something else. If you grow something like tomatoes you can watch the process take place almost right before your eyes.

Where I live now we don't really have a yard. It's more like patches of dirt in various places around the building. My neighbor (not the crazy one who lives upstairs, and will hopefully be moving soon) and her family like to grow stuff too, so we usually do it together. This year she got organic tomato plants from the farmer's market and some worm poop to put in the holes before we put the tomatoes in. The worm poop is supposed to make the plants stronger. We planted on the new moon, she put her tomatoes in and I planted my green bean seeds and my beet seeds. Almost immediately the tomato plants began to flower and now all those flowers have become tomatoes!

My green bean seeds took about 8 days to break the surface of the ground. At least that's how long it took the first one to show it's little green head. Every morning I'd go out and water and check to see what else was coming out of the ground. It was all I could do not to stick my finger in the dirt to see if I could feel anything. The delicate little Beet sprouts started coming up next and it just about killed me when I had to thin them to make room. I ultimately couldn't thin the bean and throw away the wonderful healthy looking stalks that I'd ripped out of the ground. So those are now growing in pots.

I also planted herbs - thyme, marjoram, sage and lavendar. I know they will overgrow the pot I put them in and have ambitious plans to move them to the front of the building which is basically a wasteland of clay like, root bound soil, but I think if I could get them to take hold they'd do well there. I am a haphazard waterer at best, which is good because my neighbor loves to water and has to rein herself in when leaves start to turn yellow. Neither one of us really know what we'er doing - we just put it in the ground and let it go.

I have hydrangea and scented geraniums (rose and chocolate mint) growing on the side of the house and I don't even water them. The gardener does when he comes once a week and they get very overgrown until he trims them back. I am fickle - once something has grown it doesn't interest me to maintain it. I am fascinated by the actual growing of the plant.

A couple years ago I built a trellis - like one I saw Martha Stewart build on her show, only I used twisty ties to hold the plywood stakes together because I didn't have a pneumatic airgun and hardwood for framing. The concept was the same - mine was just the trailer park version, not real purty, but it worked. The tomatoes were planted in a bed alongside our back drive which abuts the garage of the building next door (the same garage that the drunk vomiter lives over). The trellis trained the plants to grow up, and they did, to about 4 feet. Those tomatoes thrived and continued to grow even after the season and into the next year!

One day I came home from work to find them all ripped out of the ground - everything including the trellis, gone. The crazy lady's boyfriend told my neighbor and I that Norman the skeevy perv who owns the building next door had had his gardener rip them out. I say Normal is skeevy because he had never had a conversation where he looked me in the eyes. He was one of those who only conversated with my breasts, his whiny, nasal, voice wheezing in never ending drone. Needless to say I was furious! Why in the world would he think it was okay to rip up pounds of ripe tomatoes? We'd been growing stuff in that strip of dirt for a few years.

Apparently Norman and his new tenant the Gay Mr. Green Jeans who had recently taken to sprucing up the front of Norman's building had big plans to put rose bushes in, and since Norman believes that that particular strip of dirt is his he just arbitrarily decided to kill our plants. I called Norman at his place of business and left a scathing message on the answering machine wherein I told him that 1)I thought he was mean to do such a thing without talking to us about it and 2) that without a survey I couldn't disprove his contention that the dirt wasn't part of his property the cement next to is sure as hell wasn't and that if I saw him, his tenant or his gardener standing on that cement they would be trespassing so good luck planting and caring for the rosebushes and 3) he should never speak to me again for I would not acknowledge him.

Norman called me back and whined, "but Susan, you weren't taking care of those plants, they were growing wild and rose bushes would be prettier." I pointed out that since I am the only one with a view of that area it should be up to me to determine what I want to look at and everything I grow looks wild - I am not a big anal pruner. He said that since I wouldn't allow anyone on the property to tend the plants then nothing would grow there. I was in agreement with that and to this day when I see Norman I pretend he's not there because he's a big mean tomato murderer.

I throw all kinds of stuff into that dirt and just hope it will grow - apples, tangerines, anything with seeds - because you never know. I have a bunch of pots lined up right now just waiting for me to put something new in them. I think I'm going to plant a red bell pepper and a cucumber and some more beets. I don't really like beets, but they're super gratifying to grow.

I was at a BBQ on Sunday and my friend T. said that his daughter had just done a project in her class where they planted human hair with seeds and it made them grow really fast and the plants were really strong. Apparently whatever human hair is made of acts as great fertilizer. So it's all I can do not to take the scissors to my hair so I can try it. I'm not due for a haircut anytime soon so I would use the hair of my friends too. I may try the experiment with cat hair because I have lots of that.

Maybe I throw that in with the Sunflower seeds I'm growing to throw in "Norman's" bed.

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