Three weeks ago, my friend Judith offered me a few seedlings from her vast garden beginnings. She has the touch with green things that I could only dream of having. She offered me several varieties, but I only took a small collection of cilantro, cucumbers, and peppers.
Oh, I wanted more – I have grand dreams of a big garden, providing my family with fresh vegetables, all grown by me. I did it one year, and while the yield was disappointing and I did kill, well…many of the plants, I felt like I learned a lot from the experience and knew I could probably do a lot better the next time.
But I also know that I can’t even keep my grass growing.
Still, trying again seemed like a good idea. So I brought home the little cups of seedlings, planning to give them all the love I could until any threat of frost had passed and they were ready to be placed in a well-tended bed of fresh soil and fertilizer.
It was warm that first week, so I set them outside during the day, placing them on our patio table to soak up some sunlight.
Cosmo, the dog who never climbs or jumps, apparently has quite a taste for herbs and veggies and can use magic to extend his reach to the patio table. On day one, I glanced out the back door and saw him chomping down on a plastic cup. I raced outside to take it away from him, but it was too late – he’d already eaten the tiny sweet pepper plant entirely.
I moved the cups closer to the center of the patio table, far away from his reach. Later that day, after letting him out in the backyard again, I walked past the door and saw him with another cup between his paws. This plant had not been fully eaten, but sadly it’s injuries were more than it could handle and it passed away two days later.
Realizing I had a cow for a dog, I brought the others back inside and placed them on a table next to the kitchen window. I blamed Cosmo for the two early deaths, but I was committed to saving the others. It can’t be that hard to keep plants alive, right?
Mistake #2: turns out, watering a plant is harder than it looks.
Too little OR too much water will kill plants. They’re like Goldilocks – everything has to be just right. The cucumbers quickly gave up and opted for a quick reincarnation in some better person’s garden. One cilantro plant also curled up and died.
However, despite all that, I STILL have three cilantro plants and one sweet pepper seedling that made it through the early days. And on Sunday they were given their reward: they were moved to a planter.
I even gave them potting soil that states it helps prevent damage from under- or over-watering. It’s like the soil people knew I wanted to garden again this year. I’m still waiting on the Plants for Dummies line of gardening products. (Dummies brand, feel free to use me as your spokesperson. Or at least give me credit for the idea.)
The larger garden may still happen this summer, although I’ll likely have to build fencing around it until we can train the dog to not eat the garden. But for now my four little survivors are hanging out in a single planter that will remain in our front yard, safe from Cosmo the bovine-canine. Now they only have to endure me.
I never would have guessed that raising plants is harder than raising children. It’s a good thing my kids weren’t born green.