Patio Garden Diary
I'm the Lenny of the plant world: a bumbling, well-meaning killer. I love plants, but just can't manage to keep them alive. Our garage is a graveyard of various pots and decorative planters— each of them empty and representing a Trader Joe's plant that never stood a chance with me. Water plants, air plants, succulents and yes, even cacti. A parade of plants that were gone too soon. I either water them too much or too little. Sometimes I forget to water them at all. My mom once entrusted me with taking care of her house plants when she went out of town. Three weeks later, I was chatting with my cousin Dane in our kitchen when his jaw suddenly dropped as he noticed a slew of dead plants behind me. It was a slaughter.
The cause of death wasn't always neglect, though. In college, I twice attempted to grow strawberries using one of those grow-your-own strawberry kits from the dollar section at Target. I diligently tended them, watering each delicate sprout with an eye dropper. I blogged about both attempts, was more successful with the second try, but ultimately, never saw a single fruit before the sprouts shriveled and died. (In case you're curious, here are my blog posts about them from 2009: Green Thumb? Not Quite, A Sprout! and 11 Sprouts.)
My string of previous failures might deter some, but not me. To borrow a line from an old favorite, I'm ready to take a chance again. And this is my most ambitious run yet.
I am growing my own patio vegetable garden!
I started where all inspiration starts: Pinterest. After browsing several pointers on plants that are easy to grow, I headed down to the Armstrong Garden Center in Dublin. I was on a mission to pick up some tomatoes and peppers, as the Powers-that-Be on Pinterest suggested. There were dozens of varieties of each and I must have looked lost because an Armstrong employee asked if I needed help. I told him that I was looking for vegetables that I can grow on my patio. He walked through the entire vegetable section with me and helped me pick out a Cajun Belle pepper, a Patio Baby eggplant and two kinds of tomatoes: Seedless Sweeties and Sun Gold. He also helped me pick out the correct soil and pot sizes for each.
I hauled my supplies home, potted my sproutlings and said a prayer. Twenty days later and I'm proud to announce...my plant babies are still alive! Check out how much they've grown in 20 days:
The Cajun Belle produces high yields of small, slightly spicy peppers that can be eaten fresh or used in salsa. It's supposed to mature at the age of 61 days. I'm planning to use it in homemade salsas and maybe in omelettes.
Patio Baby Eggplant
I love eggplant and I love the name of this little cutie. My Patio Baby Eggplant is perfect for growing in a container. Once the eggplant matures at the age of 72-85 days, I'm going to try making miniature, personal-sized servings of eggplant parm. I hear Patio Baby Eggplant is great for frying.
Seedless Sweeties and Sun Gold
The guy at Armstrong Garden Center told me these tomatoes are a piece of cake to grow and that I could plant them together in one large pot. The Seedless Sweeties are 7-ounce heirloom tomatoes that are great for eating fresh, cooking or canning. I'm told they mature in about 67 days and, as the name suggests, are virtually seedless. I also learned that they're classified as "determinate," which means that they stop growing at a certain height and need minimal staking.
My Sun Gold tomatoes, on the other hand, are "indeterminate." They can grow pretty high and need a tomato cage for support. Sun Gold tomatoes are golden cherry tomatoes that mature in 57 days. Coming soon to a crostini near you!
Look how cute my Seedless Sweeties and Sun Gold look together!