Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Reacquainting Myself with the Earth

Wow, real dirt to plant in. It intimidates me, having grown plants in pots for the past (mumble, mumble) years.
A couple of addresses ago, we had what might gallantly be called "acreage," but it was more a wild tangle of vertical dirt — a hillside with poison oak and plenty of oak trees (I counted 50)... and deer. I couldn't put anything in the ground that deer might like. So I grew my meager garden in pots on the deck (and one time I rolled a couple of tomato plants, in my efforts to follow the sun's arc, too near the low gate of the deck, and the plants got seriously munched by some graceful, long-necked, dratted deer).
At our most recent address our outdoors was a fenced, paved patio. More pot planting. Lots of it, in fact. I grew six tomato plants on wheels a couple of summers ago. All of my herbs were in pots there, and they still are.
So. At the new address, we lugged over all our potted herbs, but [holds breath, fans self faintingly] — we put new tomato plants into real earth. And it's working! Oh golly, they're growing! Visibly. I bet I could drag a chair out there and watch them inch up by the moment. New blossoms, new leaves. Already.
However, we kept our herbs in their pots, and the pots are in a decorative row. Heh. (Lazy bastids; too feeble to replant them.) But I figure that should work fine, right?
Until yesterday, when blogpal Tea came by for a visit and a meal, and she delivered three very fine-looking basil plants of differing varieties as a housewarming gift. I thought, "Sure, we've got spare pots. I'll go find some."
Tea informed us that basil is a desirable species to co-plant with tomatoes. Something about pest deterrence. Yeah, yeah. OK.
Oh, and I also warned Tea that I would probably murder the basil, because I never have any luck with basil.
But I looked at the tomatoes today, and they are so healthy and robust. Why wouldn't the basil do as well? And then I remembered. The only basil I've ever attempted to grow was in pots. Maybe it needs good, rich, chicken-poop-enriched earth.
I got a note later from Kudzu saying that chives are dandy mingled with tomatoes, too. Wouldn't you know? My potted chives are miserable. They probably want to go into real, healthy earth.
This is going to be so much fun. Dirty fingernails, ahoy!


ChrisB said...

What a coincidence I too have spent the afternoon potting plants (not edible ones but flowers), wishing that we had more garden for vegetables as I've been promised some peppers and tom plants- so they will probably end up in pots as well but as long as they grow I'll be happy!!

Anonymous said...

I have dirt... and deer. I keep telling the Moroccan that we have to build a fence so that we can plant things, but the deer are so beautiful, and they like to take naps on the grass. I'm a softie. I hate to think of locking them out.

Glad you're having such luck with you planting! Call me if you ever have too many tomatoes!

Moonbear said...

There's nothing like digging in the dirt, eh? I got a new pair of gloves today for just that.
I have some saved seeds from last summer's Thai Basil plants, and would love to share some with you. Thai Basil is the bomb. I guess you know that.

Cali said...

Chives, in my limited gardening experience, never look happy. They always have a droopy, forelorn appearance that makes them look sad. Because it is too hot here to plant chives outside, I planted half a window planter full of seeds. I now have exactly one chive plant-- with two leaves. *sigh* The basil in the yard is doing well, though, and like you, the tomatoes are growing like, well, weeds. Most of them are volunteers, AKA, weeds. Just don't forget to pinch off the tops of the basil plants regularly so they bush and don't bloom, unless you want flowers and seeds.

Kalyn Denny said...

How fun. There's nothing like digging around in the dirt to make you feel centered and happy. I do wish I knew what was eating my basil the last two years though. I thought it was snails, but now I'm not sure. Big holes in the basil leaves. Not the Thai basil though. Apparently these pests don't like Thai food.

Anonymous said...

Cookie--A P.S. after reading cali's comment: plant the chives where they will be shaded by those fast-growing maters. Keep their "feet" cool. You may not have deer in your neck-o-the-woods but do regular slug patrols (toss them over into your neighbor's yard if you can't stand doing them in). I still leave most of my herbs in pots. They're happy -- and you can move them around.

Dagny said...

Jealous. I used to live in a place that had ground to put plants into as well as a patio area for the potted ones. Now I don't even have a patio. Every plant I have bought at this place has been destroyed by Natasha within a week. *sigh*

tammy said...

I just planted a few tomato plants myself today (Brandywine, Cherokee Purple). I stuck them in with the roses because I heard they co-mingle nicely. Don't know why. Don't care. Just grow, baby.

Stacie said...

what fun! i planted 6 basil plants in my first garden, 4 yrs ago, and they grew into a huge hedge!! i still have little frozen tubs of pesto hiding in the freezer!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

Ah, I remember the days of dirty fingernails. Have fun!

SteamyKitchen said...

I grow too, but I ALWAYS forget to water. they die.

Pille said...

I'm bound to grow my plants in pots this year too, as our garden simply won't be finished early enough to plant anything in the dirt this year. I saw your tomatoes in rolling pots - great idea! http://www.tomatogardeningtips.com/ claim that carrots, nasturtiums, marigolds, and tomatoes are the best friends:)

Katie Zeller said...

Lovely basil! I try to do companion planting...don't know if it works but I'll try anything to make life easier and not have to use creepy chemicals.
A friend told me once that a slug on lettuce is a good sing - no pesticides...I have lots of good signs...

El said...

Yay! Most plants love the microbes found in the danged ground, CC. Chicken poop helps matters with the 'maters, but just some. I do plant basil in with my tomatoes and I do it because the tomatoes shut out the light to the herbs, thus increasing their longevity (i.e., the time before going to seed; blossoms make the leaves bitter). Plus, it's just a fine experience to bump up against the basil when you're picking tomatoes!

Tea said...

Yay for real dirt! I hope your basil and 'maters are happy together (though that may be BS, just something I heard somewhere). Don't worry if they don't make it--the benefit of growing annuals is plant death without guilt:-)

Greg said...

Hey cookiecrumb ask Tea where she found the Thai basil. I've been looking all over for that stuff.

cookiecrumb said...

ChrisB: 'Tis that time of the year. Your peppers will be happy in pots. Tomatoes, too: I'm proof of that.

Jennifer: Well, once you've seen a stag napping in a corner of your proppity, it's hard to fence them out. Maybe you could just create one fenced-in smallish garden. (Stand by the telephone; tomato glut a'comin'.)

Moonbear: My mom sent me a new pair of cute gloves, too. AND, it so happens one of the basil plants Tea gave us is Thai basil; so minty and room-deodorizy. But. Oh, thanks! Let's do some other type share-swap.

Cali: My mom's chives -- in sweltering Escondido, no less -- do well year after year. Maybe because she harvests them so much.
Anyway, thanks for the pinching advice on the basil. I hate when plants go all bolty and leggy.

Kalyn: Bingo. I need this. However -- ooh. We have major snails. Every morning we are greeted with a silvery criss-cross of trails. Hm. That may be an issue.

Kudzu: Aw, shoot. The tomatoes aren't tall enough to cast much shade. And where I planted them, it's about eight hours of sun a day. Now, before solstice! Well, it's all a new experience. (Back to the pots, eh?)

Dagny: Wow, no planting at all? And you, from farming childhood experiences... Plus: Bad kitty!

Tammy: Hooyah! I got a purple cherokee and a Brandywine too. Roses? No. Nah gah do. But it's exciting that I can put in simple, silly marigolds there, because we dug out a goodly patch. (Though I'm not doing "raised beds" like you. What's up with that?)

Stacie: A basil hedge. Your thumb is beyond green. Shrekily green.

Susan: I'm guessing you don't have much gardening space. Have you taken my advice to "snatch" the random rosemary sprig from hedges?

Steamykitchen: No excuse! Bad you. Go water!! :D

Pille: I'm very excited about your advice on nasturtiums and marigolds and carrots. It's a done deal! I will probably shop for seeds tomorrow. Good luck with your pots.

Katie: Are you aware that the local, common garden snail in Northern California is the edible escargot? Just takes a little purging, desliming and boiling, and jeez, am I NOT going to do that.

El: Microbes. Right, microbes. And I thought it was because pots dry out so quickly but the earth does not. Oh, and because the darn potting soil in pots gets depleted within a year or so. In any case, I think you have sensed how excited I am. And to think you are a five-acre farmer! xxx

Tea: I'm going to make it this year's pledge to get those basils you gave me to thrive! Thanks for the plants, and thanks for the challenge.

Greg: Sloat! Don't know if she got them in San Rafael, but try Sloat.

Tea said...

Greg--it was the Sloat off Sir Francis Drake Blvd, heading from Greenbrae into Ross. They had four different kinds--purple, Genoa, lemon, and Thai.

Katie Zeller said...

I am aware - ours are also...but after watching the slime trails going up the side of our house....

cookiecrumb said...

Thanks, Tea! And thanks again.

Katie: Of course yours are escargot! You're in France! :D
But I've had a possible re-education on my slime trails. They might just be slugs. Which I'm afraid are voracious. Well, I'm new here. I'm still learning.