DO IT YOURSELF: Indoor Gardening

Sucky the Succulent, AKA Plantie.

My dad has always kept a little edible garden in our backyard, and it’s been a fantasy of mine to have some food-bearing plants. (And also sweet peas, which are — surprisingly — not a food, but are very pretty flowers.)

(Sometimes people find it weird that I use the word “fantasy” to refer to mostly food-related things. Platonic food-related things.)

But I live in an apartment, sans balcony. Some of my neighbors grow plants outside their front doors, but my particular unit doesn’t really have any front-door space. And my front door is pretty much always in shade. So any plants I grow have to fit in my kitchen window area, where the sun is bountiful… maybe even too strong.

My kitchen window is exactly opposite my front door, which — according to my boss — is where you’re supposed to grow the “power plant” that symbolizes your career. Based on the following plant stories, I’m not really sure what to make of how my career is going…

My first and most successful (to date) plant is my succulent, which I purchased at the awesome Moorten Botanical Garden in Palm Springs. I regard that succulent as my pet, basically. (My building doesn’t allow pets.) At first I always thought of it as “Cactee” (but it’s not a cactus…) or “Plantie,” but now I’m leaning toward calling it “Sucky.” You know, in a nice way.

The cool thing about succulents is that they actually do visibly grow and change. This was the same plant, before I repotted it:

Looking greener.

When I went to Echo Garden (I think) to get the succulent re-potted, I decided that I’d also like to pick up a basil plant. Basil is one of those herbs that I always need for a recipe, so I buy a whole bunch, use a little, and the rest goes bad. So I figured I’d be less of a basil-waster if I had my own supply. And it’s a delicious addition to pasta-y dishes. But basil was out of season (or something), so the gardener on duty suggested that I buy a little rosemary plant. So I did.

I don’t have any pictures of the rosemary plant because we never really got along. It seemed to host spiders, because there was always webby weirdness going on. When I went to Budapest, I gave Sam my permission to toss the rosemary plant if it seemed spider-y to him. I was kind of relieved to see that it was gone, when I got home.

The idea for the basil plant had started during browse-y times at the Hollywood Farmers’ Market, so last weekend I finally took the plunge and bought a sweet Italian basil. The guy told me to repot it in a slightly larger pot, to make sure the pot had a hole in the bottom, and — if it sat on a dish — to make sure the water didn’t pool up in the dish. Easy enough, right?

A few days later, I was watching Switched at Birth, and one of the characters (Grandma what’s-her-name) said that basil is a plant that likes to stay dry. Because Kathryn, AKA Lorraine from Back to the Future, kept killing her basil plants. And TV grandma knows best.

So I watered the basil sporadically, because the plant guy acted like basil could get waterlogged pretty easily, and because A TV SHOW TOLD ME SO. And the basil was doing fine, until suddenly it wasn’t. On Sunday, when I went to grab the basil because I was taking it to Home Depot to re-pot it, I noticed that my poor basil had pretty much wilted/died? from the crazy heat we’ve been having.

Slightly deterred, I decided to take the plant to Home Depot and re-pot it, and if it was a lost cause I could always just plant new basil seeds in the dirt. So I walked around Home Depot with the saddest, deadest-looking basil plant, feeling pretty pathetic.

I took it home, put it on the window sill, and gave it an amount of water that I’d typically consider over-watering.

That night, I checked on the basil, and it looked like THIS:

Amazing recovery.

A basil miracle!

Now I feel kind of bad that I bought this plant to EAT it.

This morning I watered it some more, and pulled off a few weird leaves… I think one had a tiny caterpillar-ish bug on it, so I felt like it was a benevolent pruning (well… not for the bug, it went down the insinkerator).

Anyway… sort of a rambly story, but I guess the moral is not to give up too soon on a wilted, dead-looking plant. Sometimes they’ll pull through.

And then you can eat them.

Fingers crossed that this guy doesn’t get spiders… (or… just spider WEBS?).


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