“I’m trying to grow stuff again”

That was the warning I gave my roommate/boyfriend last week after digging around in possibly-cockroach-filled potting soil out on our porch. You may remember at the beginning of my adventures in agriculture, I had a whole living room and porch full of lush green plants. The living room plants have fared pretty well, statistically speaking, the outdoor plants, maybe not so much.

So let’s start with the good news: Remember the avocado plants I grew from a pit? After months of growing in water (because I didn’t have a container for them yet), the healthiest one is thriving in a small pot. Despite the Jack-and-the-beanstalk perspective of this photo, it’s actually only about a foot tall.

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The tillsandia and my other no-name house plant are both thriving, despite forgetting to water them for weeks on end pretty consistently. Thank you 90% humidity!

My beautiful little succulent grew to monstrous proportions—so much so that it was top heavy and tipped over its ceramic pot—and then I accidentally dropped our blinds on it while it was sitting in the window, minding its own business. Shit. I was hoping its broken leaves might grow back, but instead, they sprouted roots! So I did a little research on propagating succulents (and by that I mean I looked on Pinterest, obviously), and apparently that’s how you do it! I planted the new babies from the blind-dropping incident, picked off the rest of the leaves and did away with the damaged overgrown mama plant altogether. Stay tuned.

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…And then there’s the porch inventory:

Cilantro: Dead

Chives: Dead

Thyme: Dead

Parsley: Thinking about making a comeback, but mostly dead

Basil: A little yellow, a little thin, but holding on!

Mint: Who knows! It wasn’t doing well at all, so I transferred it to a different pot where it thrived for a bit but now looks all spindly. I think the real problem is that I don’t use enough mint to trim it enough to encourage it to get bushy. I’m going to start paying attention to it though… Gotta get it healthy enough for mojitos in the spring!

Carrots: Sprouted, eaten by an animal just before the hurricanes. Also I’d like to clarify these plants are not in the ground, they’re on a second story porch. Who is taking bites out of them? Are there Bermuda winged rabbits no one has told me about?

Lettuce: Met the same fate as the carrots

Strawberries: This was perhaps the fruit I was most excited about. Homegrown strawberries! At Christmas! Obviously the little berries got eaten before they were even red and I didn’t get to taste the fruits of that labor at all! The plants are still holding on though, maybe they’ll try again?

Tomatoes: Ok, actually maybe this was what I was most excited about. I hate hothouse tomatoes. None of the plants I grew from a seed made it to adulthood, but the plant I purchased struggled through weather and critters to produce one beautiful little tomato for me while its leaves shriveled and died. And it was the most wonderful, most beautiful, most delicious little tomato I’ve ever eaten!

So the outdoor track record is not so great… and my neighbor’s thriving container garden does nothing but emphasize what a bad caretaker I am. I’m trying again… maybe I’ll get two tomatoes this time!

Adventures in Agriculture

I have what some might call a black thumb… That is I’ve killed nearly every plant I’ve ever owned. The only house plant I’ve ever had long-lasting success with is fondly named Spike, a succulent I picked up at the Dane County Farmers Market three summers back. Since I wasn’t sure if I could bring plants to Bermuda (and he was outgrowing his container again anyway), before I moved, I divided him up, repotted and gave him to friends and family.

However, I’ve decided that Bermuda’s high humidity could be the key to horticultural success. Forgot to water for… ahem… a while? No problem—90% humidity means the soil is still moist anyway! (And my hair has the texture of a Brillo pad.) So I hit up a local nursery and picked up some serious green.

First up: house plants! I honestly have no idea what the ones on the left are… their names have already escaped my brain. The ones on the right are tillandsia, or air plants… which I love and have managed to kill over and over again. Seriously! It doesn’t even need dirt and I can’t keep it alive! Again, I blame Wisconsin winters.

picstitchProduce here is expensive, not always the greatest quality and sometimes not even available. We are so spoiled in the U.S.! So I wanted to get a few things that we could eat. It’s an odd time of the year to start a garden, but I did manage to pick up a few strawberry plants and a really great selection of herbs. At first I had them mixed together in one long container, but the basil and mint are well on their way to shading everything else, and one of my strawberry plants sent out a runner, so I thought everyone could use a little more space to thrive. See, success already!

garden 2The last “plant” I’m working on is really more of an experiment. My friend Kaia (who blogs here) had a bit of a project going when I stopped by her house the other day. She had grown an avocado tree from a pit and was finally potting it. Apparently you can grow trees in your house! Anyway, I picked her brain for a how-to and now I’ve got two pits sitting in water… who knows what will happen. I’d share instructions, but I’m not even sure I did it right, so if I were you, I’d google! If—big if—I have anything sprout, I’ll share by expertise then!

avocadosOh, and finally: limes. I certainly did not grow these, but Andrew picked them last weekend when he was golfing and hit a bad shot into a wooded area. Because we live in a place where lime trees just grow naturally. I wonder how long it will take me to get used to that!

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