Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I'm Not the Worst Garderner In the World!

Remember last year when I was complaining about killing off mint? Well, I'm still killing off mint. I don't understand. I moved it to a less sunny spot and it was doing so well through this winter, and now it's gone all scraggly again. As you can see here, almost all the lower leaves have turned brown and dropped off. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's the fact that it's been raining for a month (I did my best to keep it shaded). I know it isn't root-bound because I re-potted it recently. Oh well, maybe mint's just happier in cooler weather. But everything else is doing much better.

I managed to grow a lot of things from seed this spring, which is a first for me.

Thai and Italian basil:

Well, the green pot on the right was a gift, but the others I grew from seed.

Now I have more basil than I can possibly eat.

Marjoram: inexplicably stringy-looking, but otherwise healthy.

Parsley: I didn't know parsley grew this big.

And check this out. I planted bell pepper seeds from a bell pepper I ate, not really expecting anything to come of it, and I actually got a mini bell pepper. It was amazing to watch it grow on the stem (I swear it got bigger overnight), but it only reached a couple inches diameter when it dropped off. I have no idea why. Still tasted decent, if a bit bitter. I made hummus with it. If I'm lucky I'll get a couple more peppers before winter.

Meanwhile, I've been keeping my thyme alive. The one in the middle was a gift from Ceddy and Char at my housewarming party. I nearly killed it and for months only a few little sprigs on it survived, like the last holdout strands of hair on a baldie in denial. It would die, it would grow back, it would die again. More water, less water, made no difference. I called it the Zombie Thyme. Eventually I re-potted it in a half-gravel half-potting soil mix, and it made a miraculous recovery.

You sure learn some odd things on gardening sites. Who knew that chamomile tea and cinnamon are anti-fungal agents? That's how I prevented my basil seedlings from keeling over from damping-off disease this time around.

I also learned that commercial potting soil is usually too heavy. You've got to mix a bunch of perlite and vermiculite into it. So now I joke about spending my money on not just any dirt, but executive dirt.

My experiment with soil-less hydroculture was also an abject failure. Unless you stick to water-loving, abuse-proof houseplants, you have to go pretty high tech for it to work.

So maybe by now, I deserve promotion to World's Second, or possibly Third Worst Gardener? Because I'm still killing mint.


MooCow said...

is THAT why my window box herbs have been doing so poorly? i will go to home depot this weekend and repot them all. did u pot the basil in a mix, too, kea? and do you have any rosemary?

Lana said...

Kea, it sounds like you're learning a lot through trial and error, so I think that would make you an "apprentice" gardener. Different types of plants like different types of soil, and different amounts of sun and water; just think about its native habitat. I think you're doing great!

Kea said...

Moocow, I pot everything including basil in a mix now. I mix up 1/2 potting soil, 1/4perlite, and 1/4 vermiculite. With thyme, I put it in 1/3 potting soil, 1/3 fine gravel and 1/3 vermiculite because thyme likes poor soils. I guess you could use sand instead of gravel but I couldn't find any here.

You might consider separating your herbs into different pots, too, because they have different light and water requirements.

I don't have any rosemary because I really don't like the taste. There's a site called GardenWeb that's really good for advice though, including advice about growing in pots. I found that a lot of advice about growing herbs in the ground don't apply to containers.

MooCow said...

Thanks, Kea, I'll check it out and head off to Home Depot this weekend. I think if I need sand I can raid the local kindergarten's sandbox, no probelm. ;)

Kea said...

Cool. Just make sure it didn't used to be beach sand, because of the salt.

greeeenwithenv said...

Kea, I'm so jealous of your garden! I'm still killing my mint, as well, but it's probably because I'm not doing much to try keeping it alive. I've kind of given up on it. Your efforts get two of my black thumbs up! bd (<-- that's supposed to be my fists with thumbs up)

greeeenwithenv said...

P.S. I would gladly take some of your basil if only we weren't so far apart. *sniffs* Mmm, I can almost smell it from here...

MooCow said...

ROFL. Maybe we should've named ourselves the Black Fist Club instead of the bumbling bees. I'm throwing out two dead rosemaries tomorrow and going to try to save my scraggly basils.

At least this blog is meeting its goal of keeping us in touch with each other and our projects!