Turning a Black Thumb Green
I love all things domestic. Some people say it is because I am a Taurus. Some say people say I inherited my passion for all things domestic from my grandmothers. I love to try new recipes, to decorate my house, to make pretty things just for the sake of being pretty, and I love to garden.
I moved to Washington DC in the spring of 2001 and I had my first outdoor space ever. It was a small balcony that faced southeast. Although I had been a perpetual killer of houseplants, I thought I could hack it as a container gardener. I had the help of green-thumbed friend, and I planted an herb garden. No one told me parsley grows like a weed – I wound up with a ton of parsley and not much else. Black-thumb be-damned! I was going to garden.
Even though I am a city dweller, I have been fortunate enough to have a balcony everywhere I have lived since Spring 2001. Each spring I try my hand at container gardening and each year I get better. Three summers ago I managed to keep my garden beautiful until the heat of summer cooked my flowers in July. Last spring my hosta came back for a second year and my flowers made it until August. This spring my hosta came back again!
Right now I have pots of petunias and pansies; pots of lettuces; calla lilies and dahlias; sweet basil and Italian parsley.
I boned up on my gardening by reading Garden Everywhere by Alys Fowler and reading The Complete Container Garden by David Joyce. The first is an informative and easy read covering the whole gamut of gardening EVERYWHERE and the latter is more useful in learning about specific plants.
Fowler’s book inspired me to be more thoughtful in my plant selections and to definitely grow my own lettuce. Last year I picked lettuce from my stepmother’s garden and made a salad that was heavenly. Who knew lettuce could be so good? Fresh lettuce is AMAZING, and surprisingly easy to grow in small, shallow containers.
Fowler also imparted a handy watering-while-away tip. (I found this free DIY tip to be very handy because I take tons of short trips during the summer.) Take a plastic beverage bottle, cut off the bottom, and put about 5 holes into the cap. Fill the bottle with water and stick it cap down into the soil. Then go away for the weekend and let gravity water your plants.
Maybe this summer I will keep my plants flowering through the whole summer and into fall!