by Expat Chef
I've lived with the Curse of the Black Thumb for some time now. Virtually any, any houseplant that arrives at my door is living on borrowed time. The fact that the little seed starts I planted with my Kiddo over the winter not only lived to see the Great Outdoors, (or at least the backyard) is something of a milestone for me. After all the years of tossing my dead houseplants, I can only sit and marvel that I might actually grow a strawberry this year and a few things more besides herbs.
I contemplated these things tonight while staring in wonder at the sunflower seeds that had the great fortune to actually sprout despite my careless planting. Perhaps this gardening thing is learned, after all, not some magic gift of genetics like my father's athletic ability that somehow completely passed me over.
Let's hope. But even if the gene pool is not required, I can at least look to the family tree for some inspiration. Just a couple weeks ago, as I went to give my grandfather his last respects (just a day short of his 90th birthday) I saw, tucked under his arm in the casket, two packets of tomato seeds.
I'll try. And if, by chance, I do succeed in this growing pursuit, it's a sure bet I had some help.
I chose a lot of heirloom varieties to grow in our own "teaching garden" at home; Red Russian Kale, Roma Beans, Shell Peas, Purple Hull Peas, Black Crowder Peas, Romanesco. Chard and Strawberries thrive amidst herbs like basil, mint, lemon verbena, tarragon, sage, chives, thyme, rosemary, stevia, savory and catnip (kitty needs to eat local too).
I want the garden to be a place where I can teach my child about growing things. As it is, she's become so accustomed to being able to walk up to any pot, pick off the leaves and eat them, well, I have to hide anything that is an ornamental.
I marvel daily at the flowers and tiny strawberries that have started to grow. Container gardening is an easy entry for the "Black Thumb" set. It requires little weeding, and you can start the planting in a soil mix of compost, vermiculite and peat moss that makes a perfect growing environment.
Even the shady spots were not safe from my new interest in gardening. I recovered a shade garden space from the weeds. As a family project we put in over 100 shade plants and bulbs. No space is left unconsidered. A patch of empty space will soon have lilies and daisies as well as rhubarb alongside the huge horseradish plant. Lately, I am dreaming of fruit trees in the front, too. Apple, peach, fig. Yeah, fruit trees. And some more shade plants. I missed a few herbs like dill, too. And ... I dunno, maybe some golden fennel.
Who needs grass?