A Plant Killer’s Guide to Gardening

I have to preface this post before I dive deep: I am a plant killer. No matter how hard I try, I always manage to kill my plants. Everything from flowers to perennials – all of them don’t stand a chance in my hands. Even our grass turns brown and crispy in the summer and I’m sure it’s because I looked at it the wrong way once.

When Mike and I first moved in to our home, my parents brought over a beautiful succulent garden. It was filled with various types of plants, each one more delicate looking than the next. Since succulents are quite hardy and require very little TLC, my mom figured it would be perfect for me. It was meant to be a reminder of the time that we would share in our own place; we could watch the plants grow and spread, just like the joy in our home.  That didn’t happen. “Only water it once every two weeks,” I was told. So that’s what I did. Well, it wasn’t long before one plant started turning yellow and lost it’s leaves and another turned kind of spongey, which I later learned are signs of not watering enough and too much water, respectively. Go figure. One plant still remains, however, two and a half years later. It’s a tall, green plant with thick, stalky branches that shoot straight up in the air and come to a sharp point. It’s commonly known as “Mother-in-Law’s Tongue”, though I’m sure I can’t understand that analogy. I’m guessing the only reason it has survived all this time is because I basically forgot about it. I believe someone may be watering it when I’m not looking.

So, like I said, I am not a natural “green thumb”. Nevertheless, Mike and I thought it would be fun to try a vegetable garden this summer. I know, it’s crazy. Every plant lover out there is screaming, “Don’t give this girl a garden!” Seeing as how I couldn’t make my front garden work last year, I was nervous to start this project (Don’t tell me my plants are so easy they will take care of themselves, because I will take you for your word and let me just say – the plants are not getting up every few days to turn the sprinkler on).

Our backyard is a clean slate. There isn’t anything there except a deck to fill up the space, and even that doesn’t have a lot going on with it. I decided I wanted to plant some tall grasses at the back of the deck to give us a little bit more privacy for when we are siting out there, but aside from that, I had no idea what to do. So, since our backyard gets full-sun all day long, and we have the space, I figured a vegetable garden would be a perfect nightmare adventure.

The first step was to decide whether we wanted to plant our garden in the ground, or in elevated containers. Given the number of bunnies that hop around our yard, elevated seemed to be the perfect solution, and it didn’t tie me down to repeating this next year if things go awry. So, my handy husband has decided he is going to make us a vegetable garden planter. It will be built from wood, cedar most likely, and sit on the ground behind our deck.  He found an example of a style he likes that he assumes will be pretty easy to assemble. Our goal is something that looks like this:

Photo: eBay.co.uk

We plan to start the building process next weekend, once Mike has had the chance to buy the wood and the supplies. I have complete faith that he will build us a beautiful garden planter. He built our basement and our deck, so a vegetable box should be easy for him.

The fun part for me is picking out what kind of vegetables to grow. For this, we took a trip to one of my favourite places: The Niagara College Greenhouse. The sun was shining and spring was definitely in the air after a mild down-pour in the morning. We took a walk through the greenhouse and saw rows upon rows of seedlings for every type of vegetable you could imagine. And the HERBS! It was so fragrant inside that my mind started wandering to all the cooking I could do with such a bounty of fresh herbs.  A woman that worked there gave us a lot of pointers when it came to growing vegetables that we will definitely being taking. We will return in the middle of May for the seedlings of tomatoes, peppers and onions, as well as every type of herb I can get my hands on, but for now, we left with a bag full of organic seeds for some of our favourite veggies: rainbow carrots, snow peas, sugar peas, beets, cucumber and wax beans. We will begin planting some of the seeds in a couple of weeks once the final frost date has passed. Until then, I am left to dream up all the wonderful summer vegetable dishes I will cook. That is, if I don’t kill off my plants before they grow. Stay tuned for more updates.


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