My dad and I have always gardened together. I used to love to put on my scrungy clothes and dig in the dirt with him. I was fascinated by earthworms and we would try to see who could find the biggest one.
Dad imbued in me a strong desire to grow my own fruit and vegetables. I built by own raised bed vegetable garden at my first house; it was even big enough for a couple of rows of corn. When I was married and moved into a different house, I bought big pots and had a container garden. I started shopping for organic gardening items and trying to expand my produce selections.
Then I moved to Indianapolis. My work schedule was crazy; my other hobbies took precedence. My big containers weren’t draining well and the garden didn’t flourish. The next year proved to be even more difficult. My number of plants indoors and out shrank dramatically, reflecting the level of craziness in my life. For the first time, I had no garden at all. I neglectfully killed all but two cacti from my previously large collection of indoor plants.
Then, this past year, my mother-in-law thoughtfully gave me three amaryllis, one of my favorite indoor plants. The flowers are usually everyone’s favorite; as pretty as they are, I like the dark green straps of leaves that flourish through the year. As they bloomed on the mantle, I realized how much I missed having plants.
Dad always talks fruits and vegetables in the spring. He shared his love of gardening with my maternal grandfather, the king of the garden. Dad reminds me how much my paternal grandmother loved to look at seed catalogues in February. He chats about pros and cons of certain berries; what new fruit tree should he buy? I was bitten by the gardening bug, but amid my burgeoning responsibilities, I decided not to garden this year.
He knew me better. During a discussion about various tomato types, he said “you can’t go without tomatoes.” He took two of my vacant pots (I had about 20). Without another word, I arrived home a few nights later to this sight (on the right). He drove an hour to my house just to surprise me with these tomato plants (a yellow heirloom and a red cherry).
I decided that adding one pot with three or four herbs wouldn’t be much more trouble, right? True. But one brief trip to the store added up to filling most of my pots with vegetables and herbs. I pulled out my water-saving drip line to water all of them with minimal effort; I potted them and used almost all of the compost in my 55 gallon compost bin, as well as several coconut bricks (peat alternative). There’s an enormous pot of herbs- even planted spearmint just for Silo. My new low-meat, high-vegetable diet will now include organic peppers, squashes, eggplant, and tomatoes.
Two weeks after the tomatoes arrived on my porch, I have a thriving mini-garden that will require minimal care and minimal cost (used only materials I already owned- no new pots or soil!). One yellow pepper plant costs the same amount as one yellow pepper at the grocery. I can’t wait for tomatoes, warm from the sun, with just a little salt for flavor.
Thanks, Dad. I love you!