Join me on my journey to battle the trials and woes of my inherited black thumb in my tiny city garden.

I’ve always liked plants. Every year on Mother’s day I’d get my mom one of those pretty African violet plants in the pastel plastic pots. I’d present it to her like I thought it was the best gift in the world. Mostly because I really did, and like any good mom she would ohh and ahh and put it right in the living room window so we could all see how pretty it was all the time.

So we must have had a picture window full of thriving violet plants right? Yeah, I can see how you’d think that. But the truth of the matter is, my mom has one of the biggest black thumbs around and I inherited it from her. Over watering, under watering, fertilizer burn, wrong amount of sun and shade, you name it and we’ve killed something that way. Most years, by the time Mother’s day rolled around again, that pretty violet plant from last year was nowhere to be found.

When I was a teen I fell in love with those little miniature rose plants that you are supposedly able to grow inside. Tea roses, I think they are called. Supposedly- being a very important word in my case. I’m not sure how many of those poor roses I went through before giving up and going back to the African violets, which would last at least a little longer than those dang roses. Don’t even try talking to me about Bonsai trees.

Now my mom can be a pretty sensible lady. That’s probably why she gave up on indoor plants long ago. Me? Well I’ve always been different and stubborn. Was I going to let myself be defeated by some stupid house plants? Hell no I wasn’t!

Several Easter tulips, daffodils, and lily’s later…. OK, yes I was. In my defense though, my first few apartments were not at all suited for growing much besides fungus in a cup. In that time I did learn an awful lot about over watering things and getting mold in your pots. I longed for a place with south-facing windows.

One day my dream came true. Tired of apartments in sweltering attics with sloped ceilings and in damp basements with cold floors, my husband and I decided to find a place somewhere in between. I put my foot down on the southern exposure and full length windows and eventually we found a place that had pretty much what we wanted.

Horray! My plant woes were soon to end and I could start living with all the lush bushy plants that I was sure were just a sunny season away. I had an entire south-facing alcove with 5 big beautiful full length windows to grow in. The place had 8 more windows to boot! Plant paradise was at my fingertips. I was sure of it.

I started my seeds in pretty multi colored ceramic pots, reading the seed packs carefully to be sure I planted at the correct depth and in the right time of year. Several weeks later all I had were lonely colorful pots of dirt. Well, there’s more than one way to grow a plant right? To the garden center! Several weeks later all I had were sad looking sticks that had once been lush plants. This endeavor was going to need much more research.

By and by I gave up on my dream of the window jungle full of exotic flowering things in favor of…..anything I could keep alive. You have to start somewhere right? I was able to make my start with a little Jade plant, a Rubber plant, a Japanese ‘money plant’, and a mini lime tree that arrived half dead and to this day I’m still attempting to get to fruit.

Eventually we bought the entire house and I was finally able to discover the benefits of growing outside in the sun and the wind. My sickly little plant babies grew into a towering army of green in just a few weeks and now I had an entire yard to putter around in. Time to start a veggie garden! And that brings us up to today. Last year I sweated and grunted and broke my back to turn a small section of my property into my own little city garden and this year I’m going to talk about it a lot.

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