Back Porch Farming: Fence Post editor and her companion gnome jump headfirst into growing vegetables
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This column will run biweekly throughout Nikki’s growing season.
To follow progress in between columns, check out The Fence Post’s Instagram at @fencepostnews.
To offer Nikki advice, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (970) 392-4466.
I’m going to start this off with full disclosure: I’ve never successfully grown anything.
I killed a cactus houseplant once. I had a bamboo plant for a couple years, but only because it was so hardy, it took that long for it to die its slow, painful death. I can’t even successfully grow my hair out, because I’m not patient enough.
I’m not sure why my track record led me to believe I could grow a vegetable garden on my apartment patio. I guess I figured that if I’m going to talk the talk, I should at least try to walk the walk, or in this case, plant the plants.
I’ve been the editor of The Fence Post for almost five months, and I’ve really enjoyed writing and reading about the people who grow and raise the world’s food supply. I find agriculture fascinating, so I decided to try my not-so-green thumb at growing something on my 4-by-6 carpeted deck. (Editor’s note: Why in the heck is my deck carpeted?)
I’m hoping in a few months, this column will be a sunshiny explanation of how delicious my newly harvested kale and chard salad tastes, or a recount of the best way to prep freshly picked juicy Brussels sprouts.
Instead, the next few columns might read with a little more heartache, self-doubt and questioning of whether I’m fit to take care of anything.
As most things you’re unsure about seem to go, my planting season (aka #plant16) started shakily. It was a Sunday, and I woke up as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as I ever do on my days off. I headed to my porch to survey the area I planned to plant my crops that day.
The CARPET was sopping wet from an ill-timed storm, slushy half-snowflakes drifting and melting onto the parking lot just past the edge of the porch. If I’d been a proper-planning planter, I’d have realized it was supposed to snow that Sunday, but alas — it was a day of disappointment. I sulked back to sleep in, my dreams of dirt and vegetable gardens put off for a week.
When the big day finally came, it was overwhelming. A few — OK, who am I kidding, a few dozen — Google searches helped me narrow down what I wanted to plant on my shady, north-facing patio. I think I knew what to get, although I admit the jury is still out on that one.
Picking out soil, compost, gloves and a spade was easy enough. Watering can? No prob, Bob. Picking out planters in what I hoped were the appropriate sizes was a bit more of a challenge, but manageable. The biggest task was the seeds themselves, those pesky little vessels of life.
I spent more than an hour — AN HOUR — looking through a seed packet display that was larger than the square footage of the patio I was about to plant. I mean, seriously, how many kinds of carrots are there?
When I lugged my haul home and out onto my teeny, micro-acreage, I sat down criss-cross applesauce and stared at it all for a few minutes. Where should I start? What if I messed this up?
I digged my spade into the massive bag of soil, scooping out the dark brown crumbles into the long, skinny planter I used for my leafy greens. That was the beginning of it for me. It only took an hour to plant my kale, chard, spinach, green onions, carrots and Brussels sprouts plants. A few days later, I added radishes, mint and a tiny little daisy pot to my little Back Porch Farm. A pink garden gnome finished it off.
Well, maybe the gnome — who my friend, neighbor and Fence Post reporter Samantha Fox named Gnomeo — wasn’t the finishing touch. The first sprouting plants will be.
Keep your fingers crossed, Fence Post Country. I’ve got the water and sunlight, now I just need a little luck. ❖