Dabbling in indoor gardening during the winter whetted my appetite for a larger project. I soon found myself asking my landlady if I could tear up her garden, hoarding compost and ordering seeds online. I even bought a gardening-themed necklace.
Here are a few of the seedlings taking over my house.
- Various seedlings in my mini greenhouse
- Tomatoes and Brussels sprouts
A mistake I made when I tried to grow pumpkins was not preparing the soil. To be fair to the me of two years ago, the only tool I had was a hand trowel. However, it was ludicrously optimistic to think that I could just chuck the plants into the ground and be rewarded with an abundance of fruit.
This time, I spent a lot of time digging out my vegetable patch. I picked stones and I yanked roots. I dug in organic matter and two types of compost.
I realised the other day that I have only become interested in gardening since beginning intensive psychoanalysis. Something that I especially like about psychodynamic theory is its links to literature, and use of association and metaphor. I could hardly think of a more apt metaphor for analysis than taking the time to transform rough earth into something that can bear fruit.
I’ve written before about how my psychological state can be seen in my creative pursuits, a very obvious example of art imitating life. When I tried gardening before, I was unsuccessful due to a lack of preparation. I didn’t have all of the tools and equipment that I needed to turn my sandy London dirt into a garden that allowed my seedlings to thrive.
Two years on, I find myself researching and making plans to give myself the best chance at success. I took the time to observe my garden to put the vegetables in the best spot. Could this represent..growth?
Since my last post about my garden, spring has sprung and I’ve become quite keen on the idea of growing a few things, as well as making my garden friendly to bees.
I’ll start inside the house. So far, the plants I repotted are doing okay. Since I took the sprouts from my mint and strawberries out of my hedgehog planters, I replaced them with some mini cacti that shouldn’t mind the lack of holes in the base.
The strawberries are doing well, but the mint just never did much. When my penultimate seedling died, I decided to pop the little pot into my mini greenhouse and since then, it’s been doing a lot better.
The other compost plugs have dahlia sprouts I’m growing for a study called Blooms for Bees, being run by various institutions including Coventry Uni, the RHS and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, of which I am a member. The seedlings appeared really quickly, so I repotted them because I was worried about overcrowding.
The coloured sticks indicate the variety of dahlia. I kept the spare seedlings in case I’ve killed any of these.
Thinking about my dream of having a smallholding one day, my herbs are doing okay, apart from the fact that my rosemary actually seems to be sage.
I’m going to look into buying some small rosemary and thyme plants. I think they would be lovely to keep in small pots in the garden. I also have some tomato and beetroot seeds that I need to get on and plant.
My landlady has said I can plant a vegetable patch in the garden. I’m excited to give it a go but apprehensive about whether I’ll actually be able to grow anything edible. The patch looks like this at the moment.
A couple of years ago, I moved into my first house in London with a garden. Despite my terror of creepy-crawlies, I cleared it and planted some pumpkins that I’d grown from seed. Unfortunately the pumpkins succumbed to some kind of parasite or something after they flowered, so they never grew to full maturity.
I moved house again in September. Even though my new house also has a (nicer) small garden, gardening was pretty far down on the list of my priorities. However, I did buy some cute hedgehog-shaped herb planters from the shop at the Wellcome Collection.
All of these things convinced me to switch the focus of my limited amount of gardening time from outside to inside. I occasionally worry about the fact that I am dying a slow death due to to levels of air pollution in London. Someone once told me that going for a run outdoors causes more harm to your health than good due to the dodgy air. No idea if that is a fact fact or an alternative fact, but it stuck with me and I decided to buy some plants that claim to have air-purifying qualities; a peace lily and two varieties of aloe vera.
I also bought these from This Way to the Circus on Etsy.
* Cat with heart eyes emoji*
Soon after my plants arrived from the internet. (Garden centre, what??) I followed the directions as best I could to re-pot them.
I’ve got to say that I’m thrilled with how they’re looking so far. I am considering creating a spreadsheet for perceived levels of air cleanliness over time.
Before long, I was struck with the fear that I may not be able to keep my plant babies alive. I have killed many a plant in my time. Hopefully the investment I made in these plants will help encourage me to look after them properly. If I manage, I can see more greenery in my future.
Mini update as I’m so pleasantly surprised by how well my pumpkin plants are doing. Eagle-eyed readers of my Watermelon Elephant post may have noticed that the photoshoot took place in my pumpkin patch. Watermellie was a project for the HPKCHC, for a challenge with a loose garden theme. I believe that watermelons and pumpkins are from similar families, so I thought it would be cute to tell a silly story about her emerging from one of my pumpkin flowers. I was doing some weeding today and that prompted me to write a separate post.
Here’s a reminder of how the plants first looked when I transferred them to the garden.
So fragile! A few weeks later, on 16th July, they looked like this.
I weeded afterward I took the pic, don’t worry!
Flowers soon started to appear.
Some of which hatched elephants.
And here is how my plants looked on 3rd August.
Looks like I planted them a bit close together. Oops. But look at my babies!
Also, the plant that I thought was dead totally was a Jesus plant as it’s now flourishing. I think pumpkins must be pretty hardy as I nearly killed another plant through overzealous weeding and that recovered too.
Last weekend I stared death in the face as I squared up to one of my greatest fears. Well, to be more accurate, I stared snails in the face because I gardened and I am terrified of creepy crawlies. Basically, I don’t like anything that isn’t cute and furry, or brightly coloured.
I may have squealed rather a lot when a snail reared its tiny head at me, presumably gnashing its teeth in an attempt to intimidate me, but then it started moving very slowly in the opposite direction, so it was fine. I’m not sure when I developed my horror of minibeasts, though I do remember being repulsed when, at the age of about seven, I jumped off a swing and crushed a snail with my knee. It was nasty.
Anyway, one of the benefits of my recent move has been gaining a garden. It’s a typical London garden, i.e. tiny, neglected and mostly concrete, but a garden it remains. For the past few years I’ve had vague fantasies of living like The Good Life, as a self-sufficient woman rearing shit and growing other shit. Well, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, and mine was the impulse purchase of a child’s pumpkin growing kit in Morrisons.
The first step was easy. I planted the pumpkin seeds in the tiny pot provided and left it to sweat. I was really pleased that some shoots came up, as I have a history of planticide.
Soon, my seedlings were too big for the confines of the tub, so I got some compost and managed to repot them without casualty.
I started getting them used to being outside. I begn buying and borrowing gardening equipment. All the while, avoiding what was to come.
Spoiler: It was mostly woodlice.
I yanked at stuff , snapped twigs and raked at the earth with a tool borrowed from my mother, and an hour or so later, I had achieved this.
I’m pretty sure that at least one plant is already dead, but I planted it anyway in case it’s a Jesus pumpkin plant.
The wild plants in the rest of the bed are covered in aphids, so my next task is to make some spray to get rid of them. But I have a pumpkin patch of my very own!