Cultivate.

“I want to cultivate the seed that was placed in me 
until the last small twig has grown.”
-Kathe Kollwitz

Probably triggered by the unseasonably warm weather last week, El Greco and I had an itch to get our hands dirty yesterday morning. We stopped in at the new Grace Brothers location on West 65th, and were greeted by an incredibly friendly and helpful manager named Don.

With his help, we got potting soil and several packets of seeds, including organic basil, organic jalepeno and cayenne peppers, organic spinach, organic cilantro and heirloom Abe Lincoln tomatoes. I also poked around admiringly at the chicken feed and other accoutrements of a much bigger gardening operation than I’m able to maintain at this point in my life. It’s an uncomfortable dissonance between wanting to put down literal roots in an elaborate garden and not feeling ready to put down figurative roots in one particular neighborhood or house.

So in the meantime, we are sprouting some seeds indoors and will container garden on our little balcony. As usual, I did next to no research before jumping right into this project. I still haven’t adapted back to the northern growing season. Reading the back of a seed packet as I tapped out a palmful, I assumed that we were well in the window of starting our tomatoes indoors “6-8 weeks before the last frost.”

That is, until El Greco looked it up and announced the average last frost for Cleveland is May 18. Which is closer to 11 weeks away. (You can’t blame us. It’s been only marginally colder here than it was any South Carolina winter we lived through, and I think they are about two weeks from the first peach harvest.)

Oh well, I’ve never been great at following instructions in craft projects, recipes, etc. So if we end up wheeling 10 full size tomato plants around our apartment to follow the sun come May Day, well, that’s what we’ll do. By the way, Don warned us not to start them too early.
Now, if I can inspire you with my resourcefulness, here is my first how-to of this blog. What a milestone. Feel free to bookmark, tweet and Pinterest the bejeezus out of this, because it’s going to blow your mind.
My grandpa, the kooky
 carpenter (and great dancer).
I miss him.
This photo is not from a wedding.
Don’t ask. 
Drawer Container Garden: An Oddly Specific Tutorial

  1. Inherit an old dresser from your family. Move it to South Carolina, try to strip the paint off of it, get tired of the project and put it back in your bedroom, half-painted, to hold your clothes for two years. 
  2. Move back to Ohio. While packing, have a fit of sentimentality due to the fact that your grandfather inexplicably drilled 1,000 holes into the drawer fronts to put alphabet block letters as drawer pulls in preparation for the birth of his son almost 50 years ago, and while you were living in South Carolina said grandfather died and you miss him. Put your foot down and refuse to abandon it. Bring it home.
  3. Move into an apartment that, due to space constraints, requires you to keep the dresser in your kitchen, not your bedroom. In a fit of creativity, decide to turn it into a bar. Repaint it, knock out a few of the drawers, get a piece of plywood to make a shelf, then quit working on it again. Put the leftover drawer on your balcony because secretly you are a redneck.
  4. Buy a big bag of potting mix and a box of heavy-duty contractor’s bags. Cut the bottom and slit the side up of one of the bags to create a large plastic sheet. Line the bottom of the drawer with the bag and fill it with soil.
  5. Start a bunch of seeds. After the last risk of frost (about May 18), put those seedlings in that box. Place underneath the drawer the two, wheeled plant carts you bought at Ikea to wheel your indoor trees around, until you discovered they only make it easier for your cats to tip them over. Now you can wheel your new drawer-garden around the balcony with the sun.

Ta da! In 11 weeks,
this will be filled with vegetable plants.
 

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