Plants and growing things

Happy Leap Day! Happy Birthday to all you Leap Babies out there :)

I have three plants in my house, and one Chia-Pet penguin thing. Just three. I'm not so good with growing things, but I do try. Unlike most Pagans, and complely unlike my Dad and his entire side of the family [my mother's side, too, but I unfortunately have no contact with them any longer] I have no green thumbs. I've joked for years that my thumbs are dead and black; my mother and ex used to say I'd kill trees if I wasn't careful. It made for a good laugh, sometimes.

Of course I'm not that bad, never have been. I don't have the easy knack that my Dad or his siblings have. I remember growing up with a huge garden, and how easy it was for my Dad to make things grow out of the hard ground. Yes, I had to weed, and I hated it, but I loved the sun-warm tomatoes fresh off the vine, and the Brussels sprouts with cheese, so the trade off was worth it.

I've had several pet plants, herbs usually, and they died. When I was a kid I had African violets, and they did pretty well, I remember my mother had to help me repot one of them. That was pretty exciting. I ought to pick up another violet, they're so pretty.


Here are my plants. Isn't the Penguin adorable?! We found him at a toy store of all places. They had fish and cats and dogs, and monkeys, and all sorts of animals. I have a huge weakness for penguins, so that's the one we brought home. I might get more later.

I have an oregano that will get a trim tonight, that's the one on the far left with the foil on the bottom. He's not big enough to need a transplant, so he doesn't have a snazzy bowl with a bottom. I'm going to use some of those leaves in my dumplings for my chicken and dumplings. I'm making everyone else corned beef with boiled potatoes, but I'm allergic to beef, so none for me.*

I plan to get some more herbs, too. My window sill will have to be re-organised, and my marbles moved down. What, you don't have marbles on your window sill? Why not!? First, they're lovely, and second, if you have them in a jar or bottle on your window sill than no one can tell you that you've lost your marbles. You can just say, "Nope, I know right where they are, thanks!" No, I'm not joking, I keep them there just for that, and it's awesome to see someone's face when they realise you have honest to goodness marbles in your kitchen.

In the odd little brown bowl are little shamrocks. They're still pretty small, and not growing very quickly, but they're not dying, so I'm thinking clovers take awhile? I don't know. They were an impulse buy at Barnes and Noble. My Beloved and I went for Warhammer 40k books when he was vacation, and they had a huge St. Patty's day display. We thought it'd be kinda cool to grow our own shamrocks, so we brought it home.

The container is shredded, pressed coconut! The "soil" is also a form of shredded coconut and I think sphagnum moss. It's a cute little thing, completely compost-able, and bio-degradable. I'm wondering if I need to move them to a slighly brighter location, I just don't want to sun burn them to death. That'd make me really sad. If and when they're ready for a re-pot I'll compost the container.

My aloe I've had since the weekend after I got married to my Beloved. I dropped my dear friend off at the airport and had to go to Sunflower. He was sitting there, all tiny and sad, and I brought him home. He was about 4 inches tall then. Now look at him! He's huge! I've already re-potted him twice, and pretty soon I'll have to do it again.

I'd like to get a window box to put flowers in, but my window sills aren't very deep. Maybe I can fashion a shelf there, that'd be perfect. The kitchen window is kinda North-Easterly, so it's good for plants. Our house doesn't sit completely directional, it's drunkenly off to one on a cross-quarter and even more awesome for it.

Couple week ends ago we trimmed and pulled and did some landscaping around here. The house was empty for almost a year before we bought it, and we couldn't trim while the trees were still awake. You don't want to shock them to death by hacking on them. I pulled out a couple dead trees, cleaned up around some fruit tree I have no idea what kind, that reminds me, I  need to water it and the orange trees. Let me go do that!

*Thirty Minutes Later*
I took a photo of my garden frog while I was out there. Isn't he adorable! He even has his own little butterfly net! I bought him at Ace Hardware, and might go back for another one (one had a flower, and there were a couple other's). I'm a sucker for cute stuff like that, as long as it's not froof-ly and it's really quirky. My garden frog is pretty quirky, and he's got the cutest green marbles for eyes! Look at that smile of his, can't beat it.

He's holding court over my soon-to-be flower bed. At least I hope it blooms. I followed the directions on the package of "desert mix" flower seeds, and I'm watering it every day. You can see that tube thing, right? That's part of the drip-irrigation system we have, but it won't water the square properly. There was a tree there, but it died.

I sat down to Google the blossoms on the one tree. They are mostly apple-like, so I'm thinking some kind of apple. We'll see if it fruits this year. If not, he'll have plenty of room to grow and be strong for next  year.

Anyway, if you look at the far left side of the photo with my aloe you'll see a cool whip container. That's my compost crock for the house. When it fills up, I'll take it outside and put it into the bucket. I only just started composting, so it's something of an adventure so far. I talked to my Dad yesterday to make sure I was doing it right. It's not difficult, I guess, just a little complicated for starters. I've thought about getting some worms later on, but for now, the compost is sitting, slightly damp and warm, decomposing a little at a time.

Having a house with a yard means I can experiment with plants, and I'm hoping to get a "tray" to start squash in the house. It's so hot here in the summer that I'm afraid they'd die, but I'd like to get some tomato plants as well. I think that if I am careful they'll grow like tumble weeds, and I can have fresh home grown tomatoes with a little salt. Yummy!

Growing things, or at least attempting to grow them, is helping me too. When you've been hurt, even if the primary hurt is caused by an outside force you internalise that. You make it yours, and let your own inner self scream the hurt at you, too. Seeing something grow, and be green and happy, and healthy, gives the lie to the inner voices that say I'm nothing, and worthless and can't do anything right.

If I fail, I've tried, and I'll try again. I refuse to let those inner voices rob me of the joy in planting that I've discovered. For so long I listened to other people talk about how bad I was with plants that I honestly wonder how much of my inability with them was me, and how much of it was my mother and my ex mocking me so they'd feel better about themselves. I can't answer that question, because I don't know. I do know I swallowed the idea, completely, that I wasn't able to grow anything, so I might as well give up.

I love caring for plants, setting them out, giving them fertiliser and a little water sprinkle. So I'll keep doing it, and if I screw it up, and they all die, well, I'll figure out what I did wrong, and fix it. That way I learned, and when my plants grow, they'll be all the stronger.

In many ways growing things can be therapy. I never realised it before, but it's helping me little by little now.

That, and I have a cute little frog in my garden! If that doesn't help raise spirits, then I'm a dead man!




* In 2007 I had surgery and ended up on penecillin for preventative care afterwards, as is pretty standard. I had a nasty reaction that sent me to hospital with hives, stiff limbs, and my tongue had started swelling. After taking mega-doses of Benadryl I started getting better. I hadn't been eating properly because of the surgery, so when I did I found that red meat made me ill. Phsucally ill. I had not been able to eat pork in about ten years by that time, so I chalked it down to taste changing. However, when I spoke to my doctor about it [I still got hungry for it, still craved a burger on ocasion and didn't think that'd happen if my taste changed. It certainly hadn't done that when I stopped eating pork of all kinds. Pork = gross to me.]

The doctor told me that sometimes when we have an allergic reaction our bodies freak out in new and unexpected ways. That's why some people allergic to penicillin can eat bleu cheeses, and some can't. For me, my body was reacting to anti-biotic treated beef. So I tried beef that was raised organic, grain-fed. Still reacted. Something about the beef proteins is setting off my penicillin allergy, and it is getting worse as time goes on. I don't want to go to hospital with anaphylactic shock, so I don't eat beef or any red meat at all. [Lamb and goat did the same thing to me.]

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