I have this category over there called Gardening 101. It rarely gets used. In the northwest the winter is too depressing to work in the garden. I mean it rains all. the. time. I hate being wet. Although I have been known to go pull Ivy out of my yard while it is pouring. I look like the man in the yellow hat with all of my rain gear on.
So this week I’m going to start a regular feature. Sure I could jump on the Love Thursday or Stuff Portrait Friday bandwagon, but hey, I’m Elle… I have to be different don’t I?
So this week is gardening basics.
Most of us are moms. Our time is limited. Who has time to go out and garden all day when there are dishes to be done, laundry to fold and dinner to cook? I would say not me, but have you seen the state of my floors recently? I love to garden. This isn’t just because I have that fancy horticulture degree or anything. For me it is therapeutic. I find a sense of peace while pulling weeds or trimming the plants. It allows me time to think and connect with nature. Blah Blah granola crap. Live with it.
The first step to gardening is to find out why you want to do it. If you are one of those who says they hate gardening or find no use for it, you haven’t ever successfully grown a plant have you? Gardening is addictive. Like some say playing golf is. (Please don’t email me and say how much you loathe golf.) You get that first plant, that first container that looks great and you can’t get enough. I was the same way. I started with a few containers on my deck and I was hooked. We had one apartment where you couldn’t see out because of the number of containers. I lived in a loft apartment in downtown Tacoma and thought I was going to die because I couldn’t garden. That’s when I took up houseplants. That and I worked for a tropical plant wholesaler at the time.
Either way, you have to want to garden. If you look at plants and simply cringe then gardening just may not be your gig. But I encourage you to give it just once chance. It isn’t all that difficult. Trust me. If my mother can become a gardener so can you.
So we’ll start by making everyone a gardener. This means you have homework. To catch the gardening bug you have to grow your first plant successfully. I am not talking going out and hiring a landscape designer to give you this fancy HGTV backyard. Those with the smallest of apartment decks can even do this.
To be a successful gardener you need just a few supplies. First is a container. Let’s not go gettin’ all fancy and say you have to dig up a chunk of ground. Remember, this is for the apartment dweller too. Go buy a container. I prefer terracotta, but plastic will work too. Just make sure it has a hole in the bottom. For our homework make sure it is at least 8″ in diameter. A 10″ would be ideal. You will also need potting soil. The key word there is potting soil. Please, for the love of God, don’t buy that Miracle Grow crap. Go to your local nursery and buy good old fashioned potting soil. I prefer organic. Buy it from the nursery, not the mega box store or the local quickie mart, but make sure it is labeled potting soil. Just enough to fill the pot will do. Also, don’t under any circumstances put Styrofoam peanuts or crushed soda cans or anything in the bottom of the pot. Last but not least you will need a plant. For this homework lesson we are going to start with something simple. One plant that even the newest of gardeners can grow. A petunia.
Petunias are sticky, and I don’t like that about them however, I spend a small fortune on petunias every year. Why? Because they are easy. Now, when you are buying your petunia you will need to be looking for a very specific kind. I am trying to maximize your success here. Look for one labeled a Supertunia, Surfina, or Wave petunia. All of these are what are known as trailing petunias. They bloom all summer, you never have to dead head them and they grow like mad. You will need only 1 4″ plant. See, I’m making you a gardener without breaking the bank.
Now that you have your pot, soil and plant go home and plant it. Dump the soil into the pot, fill until you are about 3/4″ shy of the top. Dig a hole in your soil and remove the plastic pot from your petunia. And important step is to break up the root ball of the plant just a bit. I do this by squeezing the root ball slightly. Plop the plant into the hole and press the soil in the pot around the root ball. Last but not least water that bad boy. Watering is key.
Water your little petunia about every other day and it is best if you water until water runs out that hole in the bottom of the pot. If you live in a wet climate like me you will need to water less frequently in the early spring. During the hot summer months you will need to water every day. Oh, one more thing. Petunias like sun. About 6-8 hours a day if possible.
We’ll revisit your little petunia from time to time with such things as fertilizer, but for now this will get you started.