5/19/11 Gardening? Is there an app for that?

Yesterday, I confronted a weakness. I planted my summer garden.
Sure, it’s all in pots on our deck, but it’s a start (knock on wood).
For years I’ve wanted to be successful at growing things. Every half-decade, it seems, I enthusiastically go out, drop a mint on pots and soil and sometimes even gardening tools, only to excitedly go home and kill whatever is living. Indoors, outdoors, doesn’t matter. It dies. (Perhaps that’s why I have so many pets…to convince myself that I can keep some things alive. But the two overweight cats and the neurotic dog are another blog entry–or entire blog, on that note: http://www.mydogisanahole.com–entirely).
This year, the garden seemed inevitable. The tendrils of nature kept clawing at me, er, gently stroking my cheek. First, there was “Tap that Sap” at North Park Village Nature Center. At this event, you walk through the forest and watch sap drip from holes in maple trees, falling into gallon containers before it’s boiled into syrup. This ain’t no Aunt Jemima. Then, there was the story I did on rooftop gardens for wellcommunitychicago.org, and the piece on making your own tea. Those were followed by a piece on a mother-daughter gardening team and another piece on a local beekeeper. All this self-sufficiency was making me, well, green. So yesterday, I planted.
The plant containers have come a long way since I went through my last gardening phase. The containers are biodegradable, so you just soak the bottom and then break it up and put it into the hole into the pot where the plant will (presumably) live. It’s reunited with the plant roots, lowering the sense of shock and abandonment. That made the whole process almost too easy.
I checked on everything this morning, and it’s still alive. The two types of tomatoes are looking at home in their pot. The three kinds of peppers practically look cheery. The parsley is enjoying plenty of space, while the mint and lemon balm are sharing a pot nicely. The sweet basil is flourishing, but the spicy basil seems to miss the gardener who was caring for it at the store. I’m skeptical about the Walla Walla onions, but maybe they’ll surprise me most of all.
Now I just have to figure out how to keep this stuff alive. I looked it up online, hoping for very detailed instructions about how much water and when, but everything I read seems to say, in a nutshell, give it enough water–too much or too little and the plants die. I tried to find a gardening app that tells me exactly how much and when to water the little pretties, but all the apps out there seem far more advanced than my little corner of green requires. I need a site for brown thumbs like me (brown, like dead plant leaves. Get it?), but there doesn’t seem to be one in existence. If these plants do what they’re supposed to, and live, maybe that will be my next project. See? A seed has already been planted (yeah, I said it).

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