I volunteered to watch some friends’ cat, but they threw me for a loop when they asked if I’d also water the plants.
I tried not to show my panic while I asked pertinent questions. When? How much? How attached are you to these plants?
Cats I can handle. Baby-sit your kids? I’m good at that. But plants are scary. Houseplants don’t survive their time with me.
So as the #plantmom trend began, I sat back with no intention to participate. I watched as my friend Quyn grew avocados and lemons in her Manhattan apartment. Nice for her, but not my jam, I thought.
Until a local friend mentioned she was growing blueberries in pots. I love blueberries. I began to imagine myself picking blueberries off the bush while sitting on my deck.
I went to the garden store and asked a million questions. I left with two bushes (different varieties for pollination reasons, I was told), a bag of soil, a box of blueberry nutrition, and a cute pink watering can. I went to a discount store for plastic pots because ceramic pots are damn expensive!
All went well enough that summer. For my $100 investment, I got about a quarter of a pint of blueberries and an introduction to plant life. I enjoyed watching with pride as each new blueberry grew. I savored each one I ate.
Then Seattle’s winter rains came and my pots filled with water. My blueberry shrubs drowned to death. That’s how I learned the first rule of container gardening: Pots should have holes drilled in them.
When I got over my grief, I decided to try again. It was spring and tulips were popping up in Seattle. I wanted in on the Kool-Aid colored flower action. After a few times of slowly walking by the local garden store and peeking in, I had the courage to walk through the gates. I easily found some tulips for my pots, then got inspired by a bowl of three kinds of lettuce. I love romaine but fear the grocery store versions and the frequent e.coli outbreaks.
I asked the staff some questions, and they gave me the confidence that I could, in fact, grow my own lettuce on my deck.
“Harvest it and it will grow back,” the garden expert explained. “When you give it room, it will fill in.”
The city girl in me was astonished. I pluck it, eat it, and it just grows back? What kind of magic, sustainable product was this? When I run out of store-bought lettuce, I have to go back to the store for more.
My little pot didn’t yield quite enough to feed my salad habit, so I went back for more. I also bought catnip so my cat could have a treat when we sit out on the deck together.
Now I’m hooked. Growing my own food is as rewarding as it is delicious. Today I stopped and bought two blueberry plants, a dwarf lemon tree, and mint. I got inspired by the staff at Urban Earth when I wrote this article (shameless plug).
I hope the cat-sitter isn’t afraid to water my plant babies when I go on vacation!