Saturday, March 29, 2008

How green is my garden?

I love plants. Unfortunately for me, and even more unfortunately for my plants, I'm a terrible gardener. That is because my gardening, like my housekeeping, tends to be sporadic. And unlike the laundry, which will still be there for me to fold when I get around to it, plants can not wait to be watered. They will die, and many have, while I was off at museums and zoos and what have you. I've tried to get around this by making the watering someone else's job (the children's, of course), but then I just have to remember to tell them to actually do it. There's some improvement here from the plant's point of view, but not a whole lot.

But I still have gardening tips to share with you!

1) Perhaps this will strike you as gross. It works well for me, though. I keep a jug on the counter in the kitchen. Whenever I have some water I would normally empty into the sink, for example from cooking pasta, or water left in drinking glasses I am getting ready to wash, or whatever, I pour it into the jug. Then I water plants with that water. That way I save water and actually water plants! Killing two birds with one stone. Hmm, not perhaps the best metaphor for a tree-hugging save-the-planet kind of post. Whatever.

2) Coffee grounds and tea leaves. Excellent fertilizer, and way easier than composting. You can actually put them right on the dirt around the plants' roots. This idea is not original with me -- a family I used to know used this technique on everything, even their house plants. Which were lush.

3) Crushed egg shells. They're supposed to be a slug-deterrant, which is why I started strewing them on the ground in my garden, but I'm noticing a lot of shiny leaves and new growth where the egg shells have gone. You can cover them up with coffee grounds if the white from the egg shells (or rainbow colors, at this particular time of year) bothers you.

What do all three of these things have in common? The fact that they force me to do something for my plants at more or less regular intervals. I cannot have unlimited piles of egg shells and coffee grounds on the counter. The jug gets full and I need to empty it. The normal rhythm of my kitchen life begins to encompass the garden as well, which means that it becomes much less of the wasteland it had been formerly. I even pulled some weeds when I was out there watering this morning. Imagine!

The interesting thing to me is that practically every plant in my garden has responded well to these methods. I know there are specially formulated fertilizers for all different kinds of plants, so this one-size-fits-all approach is probably not for advanced gardeners. For a rank and clumsy amateur like myself, though, it's a revelation.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Lesley said...

Thanks for the tips.
I'll start dumping my coffee grinds into the garden, instead of my trash can. You'll also be happy to know that I've started saving my empty bread bags to hold my freshly cleaned and prepped CSA vegetables.

Every little bit helps!

11:13 AM  
Blogger zelda said...

I'm going to borrow some of these tips also. I try to remember to give my plants the water from steaming veggies b/c the plants love the vitamins.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Wow! Thanks, guys. You know, empty bread bags are also good for wrapping sandwiches in.

8:57 PM  
Blogger Vivian said...

This is a great post, Sarah. In our house Bill is the gardener, I just tell him what I want to see and I do appreciate a nice garden.

If crushing egg shells is too messy, I've read that you can soak them in water and the remaining eggwhite would come off in the water.

4:41 PM  

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