I was just joking about winning an imaginary gardening competition, but it turns out you actually CAN win at gardening, and guess what, internet? You are looking at the recipient of the Most Improved Garden Plot prize, a very official and prestigious prize awarded via a confusingly worded mass email from the Head Gardener. I'm waiting to hear if we get get a blue ribbon to hang on our plot marker or what, but I'm sure there will, at the very least, be a solid gold trophy and some serious bragging rights involved.
I was afraid this entire hobby going to burn hot and fast and end in heartbreak when I failed to coax a single green leaf from our clumpy, neglected soil, but so far it's still fun. (Joel is not quite as delighted as I am, since the novelty of gardening wore off for him around the time he learned to walk.) My first crop of cucumbers failed and there are some sort of bugs nibbling away at my broccoli plants, but still! Things are growing! And I'm 90% positive that most of them are not weeds!
These, for instance, I'm positive are carrots. Finally. At first carrots sort of look like grass and you might be tempted to accidentally weed them. Just, you know, FYI.
The one trick that's been invaluable is starting seeds indoors. The hippie magazine that gave me the idea and instructions was suggesting you should do it in order to start when it was still too cold to plant outside. I, however, find the trick very useful because if it's growing in your pot inside, you can be pretty damn sure it's lettuce, and not a lettucy-looking weed impostor. Everything looks pretty similar when it's a millimeter tall.
So I've been doing that, making little pots of out newspaper and keeping them in an old litterbox for easy transportation. When it's going to be cold out overnight, I can bring my preshus baby plants inside for safekeeping. And when they get big enough to go out in the soil, I can just plant the entire little pot. Genius, these hippie magazines! Joel bought me a subscription.
Of course, the magazine didn't give any instructions about how to deal with the separation anxiety. I told these tiny cucumbers to call me if it got too cold and I'd come and pick them up, no questions asked. And I reminded them that if that stupid rabbit comes sniffing around they're not to talk to him, under any circumstances. No plant of mine is going to go hanging around with rabbits. Do you think they're OK? Maybe I should go and check on them.
I find it fascinating to watch my plants grow and I'm repeatedly amazed that a tiny seed can become a plant and produce edible substances. Here's my broccoli at two weeks, four weeks and six weeks. Aren't they the best little growers you've ever seen? (Man, when I have a baby you had all better run for cover, because let me tell you: I honestly do think this little broccoli is the smartest, biggest, most handsome broccoli on the whole block.)
Yesterday was a big day in Gardenland, as it saw the first ever harvest in our award-winning garden. That's our award-winning lettuce, which I used to make some award-winning salads and put on some award-winning burgers last night.
And that one colander full of lettuce makes the entire week I spent pulling weeds and wishing I had a pet Clydesdale totally worth it.