The Root

One gardener’s quest to get to the bottom of it all.

My Alter-Ego February 25, 2009

Filed under: Houseplants,Meta,The Web,Winter — Kate @ 3:07 pm

This is where I out myself as a (hopeful) gardening profiteer, and also reveal where most of my energy has been focussed this winter (when not on my fam, cheesy ghost-hunting TV shows, and translating work). A couple months ago I started and have since patched together a bunch of WordPress plugins, learned some PHP and SEO the hard way, and have generally been working zealously and planning feverishly whenever Freya sleeps.

The idea behind the site is that anyone can grow their own salad, almost year-round, even if a shameless penny-pincher and already-cluttered-home dweller like me, thereby treating themselves to much tastier and healthier produce, and quite possibly doing Mother Earth a good turn, too. And then there’s the very attractive prospect of including a small virtual store-front on the site and earning money with my favorite past-time. Who wouldn’t want to do that? It’s a dream job. So, that’s the idea, but the site is still nascent, needs a lot more work, and some sort of community aspect, which a forum might fulfill, but then again, maybe not. In the meantime, it’s mainly an informational blog in which I learn while writing and doing — much like The Root, but with the underlying motive of $$ (and, dare I say it, a little bit of homegrown world-changing?).

I hope to keep up The Root as my personal gardening blog, because, hot damn, I still love you, old blog, and I find I can write a lot more freely and easily when not concerned about getting my facts straight, or attracting the ever-wily Google bots.

Windowsill-garden event of the day/appropriate metaphor:

Mount Duckling Oriental lily that I've been tending (bloomless) for a good year


Freya! December 9, 2008

Filed under: Meta,Winter — Kate @ 12:51 pm

Some of you have been banging pots and pans for a photo of what I’ve really been growing, so here she is, this big girl of mine. She turned one year old on November 13th…and decided to start walking last night…!!!





Oh, Girl! November 18, 2008

What a couple of incommunicado months. Sheesh. Is this still a blog? Yeah, but it’s a blog about a dedicated spring gardener who became an extremely negligent fall gardener.

(Wow, I had to test-drive that new feature! Nice.)

Dudes, I don’t even want to rehash the sad story of “the harvest.” In my case, it played out like a horror flick. Or, you know, I remember first hearing about the hunger-relief program Second Harvest — now, I’m confident that they work wonders, but, in my world, their name has always sounded like a euphemism for regurgitation. That’s how it was in my garden this fall, yo; harvest became a euphemism for what I was doing: clawing through blighted and blackened tomatoes just so I could salvage some seeds; letting the countless tomatilloes soften on the vine after determining that I don’t really like their taste. Then there was the lone pumpkin that harvested itself / fell to the ground, from whence I tried to gather it and instead came away with the softened stem in my hand (I lugged it home, anyway, where it turned foul within three days). Oh, the saga.

Well, it can’t get much worse next year! Optimism levels on the rebound. Should be good-to-go by springtime. I am seriously reconsidering what I will grow, though. I’ll always enjoy fresh salad greens, and having so much zucchini will always be a wonderful reason to bake more chocolate zucchini cake (kudos, kudos, kudos). But, the tomatoes? Sheesh, guys, I really didn’t dig them that much. They are, in my book, the most beautiful seedlings, and we did get some delicious mouthsful of the Black Krim that honestly did taste like red wine. But, holy crap, the blight! The interminable wait for the first ripe one! And then the same wait for the next! And then I just got thoroughly depressed by the idea of schlepping over to the plot again just to pick maybe one ‘mato that would end up mouldering on the countertop, anyway (why? They kind of give me indigestion after noon)!

I miserably failed at Tomato Husbandry, yo, and Pumpkin Husbandry was like a “D-“.

The wondrous counterweight to all the rampant garden negligence is the unstoppable thriving of babygirl Freya. She now eats with two fists; and has a sort-of wrinkled-nose, “Hey, I’m on to you!” expression, along with countless others; and crawls with such amazing gusto that you can hear her coming from two rooms away. Her first words after “Mama” and “Dada” were “Hi” and “Wow.” How wonderful is that. When we get up in the morning, she waves to the world outside the window. The girl literally greets the day. How amazing is she?

Last night I was trying to chop up some herbs with a dull knife and she got so excited about the big bunch of cilantro. At the risk of projecting too much of my own enthusiasms onto her young self, I dare say the girl likes green things.

Here’s to more goofy updates before the next growing season. Can’t wait to read what you all have been doing.


Confessions July 29, 2008

So, you guys, I have a dirty little secret: My balcony garden sux. Yes, I’m guilty of selective blogging. Week in and week out I post photos of my plot garden and hope that no one will notice the sad lack of updates on the homefront. I promise I will post photos when the sun shines again, in the morrow — or perhaps in the midst of a downpour, which would really set off its miserable state. I usually try to frame the best shot, but this time, there will be no best shot. Nothing grows past adolescence out there.

In brief: The carrots seedlings, such as they are, one centimeter tall, are yellowing, the chard has somehow mummified into tough little inch-long shoots, the lavender I had such high hopes for seems to think it has fall foliage, Freya’s little primrose plant is suffering through yet another cycle of flood and drought, and my Brandywine tomato is straining to produce its 20th leaf. It’s nothing good.

I remember reading that container gardening is difficult, but I moved on pretty quickly from that. Extreme conditions, microclimates, special handling required. Huh. You don’t say. Where’s that sub-standard potting soil? I’m just going to try it out, here. And I don’t know what possessed me to try to raise a windowbox of chard in seed-starting mix, but it’s just not happening.

It’s because, at this stage of baby-raising and life-muddling, I can only care for the type of garden that requires like two hours a week of maintenance, tops. So it’s working out in my plot because that stuff is growing in almost pure compost and seems to appreciate it. And because the plots are so jam-packed, the weeds just stay out of sight in the shady undergrowth. All I’ve been doing for the past couple weeks is just harvesting and ogling it. That’s my kind of garden, right there. There might be drawbacks to a jam-crammed veggie plot that I’m not yet aware of, but I just hope it stays that way.

So, maybe in a couple years, with the container garden. Maybe when Freya toddles and can play in dirt without putting it into her mouth (all the time) and it will be our thing.

To be continued.


Mutant Tomato Update July 23, 2008

We calls him The Grinch:

It’s at least three tomatoes fused, with leaves fringing out from the center and the sides. A hairy, mutant Black Krim that will scare the kids at Christmas. Truly a tomato worthy of that “Play with Your Food” line of books that was popular several years ago. Will we cut it open and find four hearts, or one massive seed pit? What will it spawn when I plant its seeds?

The weather has been humid and rainy for days — weeks — and, all of a sudden like, the zucchini plants popped out scads of flowers. At least one is a female flower with a zuke developing behind it. And the green pumpkin is the size of a ping-pong ball.

Last winter I made some noise about guerrilla planting a pumpkin or two on the property line — land that is probably rightfully CVS’s. Haven’t done it yet, in part because, after numerous nighttime diaper runs, the CVS ladies know me and Freya and Neville on sight. I feel like I would be betraying some shallow but persistent cashier-customer bond of trust. Plus, my parents read this blog. However. There is also the matter of keeping my word, and some needy pumpkin plants that aren’t getting enough sun. I had success transplanting a zuke. Might try a pumpkin, an illicit, city pumpkin…should act while parents out of town…how old am I again?


Roamed Far, Returned Home, Stronger Now. June 30, 2008

Filed under: Meta — Kate @ 9:33 pm
Tags: , , ,

It’s all in the title: the story of me. Merlot told her story and then asked me to tell mine, so I came up with the most loaded sentence I have ever written. Packed! I found it very satisfying to condense everything down to the essential. Makes me wonder what every person I know would come up with. So…

I’m totally breaking the rules. Partly a matter of necessity — I’m slow on the uptake and pretty sure every blogger I read has already done this, or already means to do this — but it’s mostly because I really want to read what some of my oldest and most creatively employed friends will write. This is just the kind of exercise that will reveal delightful things about them. Problem is, almost none of them write public blogs (or do they? If you do, then you’re craftier’n I thought, that’s awesome, and please link to it below!). So I’ve asked them to leave their bios in the comments.

The upshot is, this tag dead-ends here. But I know it will still be fascinating to all involved because my friends and lover are fascinating.

Here’s one that relates specifically to why I began gardening (I swear, this haiku-esque structure makes everything profound):

Needed roots, made some, still growing.

Now I want to hear one (or more) from:

  • Tracy (unfair, I know, because you’ll be traveling for the next like six weeks, but I say, better late than never)
  • Nev
  • Ana
  • Nick
  • Claudia
  • Katie

…Please leave your wisdom in a comment. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


In Which I Decide I’m Slow and Changing June 3, 2008

The most important thing Freya has taught me so far is how satisfying a minute can be when I really pay attention.  The flip side: realizing how easily I am distracted from the moment, and how distinct each of these times is from the other. I have begun recognizing certain moments as “Freya Devotionals.” They occur at random, but reliably, on the hour. Like sinking into a bed of warm straw, but much more brief. Pretty much perfectly indescribable.

So, yeah, at a time when the simplest things have become most important, it comes to pass that I love growing slow food. Every vegetable I put in my mouth these days, I pay more attention to its taste and whether or not I would like to have a row or a square foot of it growing nearby. Exciting to eat that way. And maybe it’s some semblance of how Freya eats.

It is high spring here and we have been spending hours with plants. The condo is in shambles, there are friends I really do want to catch up with (TC! Ana! Hello!), but all I can do is Freya and flora. I think I’ve reached a pivotal point, where hobby becomes passion: While enjoying this one to the utmost, I have already started planning for next year’s garden. All of what I’m growing now, plus strawberries, edamame, many many salad greens, and more varieties of tomato. Heirloom, all of it, if possible? I foresee a winter of seed catalogs.

And I think I’m at a pivotal point in baby-raising, too, where dirt moves from foe to friend. Recently someone wise reminded me that we all eat a peck of dirt in our lifetime. A month ago, that adage seemed downright objectionable; but now, having been with Freya outdoors for much of the past several days, I’m really getting used to the idea. Even downright liking it. Don’t know if she’ll be an outdoors kind of person, but I’ve decided she’ll have a good chance at it, living with me.

And, can’t help it, have to end with: Yes, Barack!!!!!