Yes, you read that right. I am growing broccoli in my house. And parsley. And soon, hopefully, garlic. It’s a thing.
It’s like growing 70-75 tomato plants, and other assorted vegetables, herbs and flowers in buckets.
Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we? Once upon a time….
There was a time when I could kill plastic. Really! Remember those over bright cheesy plastic plants you got at Woolworth’s? I know I’m dating myself, but…Woolworth’s was THE place to go if you wanted cheesy plastic. Or pantyhose. Or pantyhose, a hammer, a sink drain, a cheeseburger and a Coke.
For you young ‘uns…those of you who never had to get up off the floor or couch to change a channel, or never knew life without cell phones, compact discs, electricity…OK, I’m going off topic again…for those of you who didn’t have to actually learn what the term “off topic” meant, from your children or grands, Woolworth’s was like…no, not like Target, even cheesier than Walmart, if there is such a thing. Smaller, much smaller. We’ll compare Woolworth’s to Walmart, for giggles…but it was smaller…and a whole LOT cooler.
They had maybe a dozen aisles in the Woolworth’s near me, with kitchen ware, tools, fabrics, you name it…Woolworth’s had it…and one of those aisles had these incredibly cheap plastic plants and flowers. And I could kill them.
So, there was the longest time when I did not dare to plant a seed, or prune a plant. I could pretty much water them, if I was carefully monitored and disciplined, but fertilize? Trim? Oh, dear! Re-pot a root bound plant????
MOM!!!!! Was all I could wail out, before my plant shriveled and succumbed to my black thumb curse.
Years later, the Gods having heard me, came Michael. Briefly, and believe me, he will get his very own shining blog post very soon, Mike is a professional gardener, botanist, teacher of all things green and growing and wonderful, from Fairfield. He wandered into the Diner one day, looking for health food…I can’t remember if it was a cheeseburger and fries or sausage and eggs…you know, health food! I, the waitress, he, the customer, we got to talking, like you do with customers, and we hit it off, fast friends. Kindred spirits. He told me about his gardens…he designs, plants, implements and maintains some of the most beautiful high-end gardens in Fairfield County…I don’t even like to call them gardens. I call them, “Magic Worlds.” The gardens he designs and maintains are retreats. I told him of my black thumb curse.
Again, in short, this amazing human being, humble in nature and willing to share with and nurture a student along the garden path, took me under his Angel’s wing and started me down that path, with a gift…a Dahlia tuber, some compost, and detailed instructions on how to grow the Dahlia.
I grew this!
Oh, yeah…Mike’s a wiz with a camera, too. Me, I refuse to part with my crappy cell phone pics.
Anyway, I grew that Dahlia, “Dahlia Bodacious,” and two Topsy Turvy tomato plants, successfully, that season, all with the help and encouragement of my mentor, The Great Garden Guru. Seriously…this guy can make rocks grow. I grew that Dahlia and those tomatoes, and never looked back. I just grabbed my watering can and fertilizer and ran!
OK, I’ve embarrassed Michael enough for today…we can morph to present day, my third year in the garden. I’ve gone from those simple plantings, to the bucket jungle I had out there this summer. I had a wonderful season, still canning…next up: gallons of tomato sauce…and still growing. I had the peppers, spinach, and broccoli outside in their containers, the temps started to drop, and having just planted the broccoli, I figured, why not take them in and see how that goes? I brought them in, put them in the window and under the shop light I had strung in the spring for germinating seedlings, and started to take down the rest of the garden. Surprise! A snow storm came in late October, dumped a couple of inches of snow…I was picking spinach from the planters in the snow, dragging the pepper planters up onto the porch to get them sheltered, dragged the tender parsley inside because I’m going to need it, and went about my business.
I checked my broccoli plants last night and, lo and behold! Babies!!! My broccoli plants are forming their little broccoli heads! I’m so proud of these guys!
One of the plants is even growing side shoot heads already.
Now the weather is unseasonably warm. I don’t know how long it will last, it could turn on a dime. Today, though, it was great. So, I brought my young broccolies outside for the day to give them some sunshine and real air, give them a bath, clean up their space and wash their window glass so they get better sun. I brought the parsley outside, too, to give the “older gent” the same loving attention. Here’s how it went…
“Here you go, Little Guys, some fresh air and real sunshine!”
One of the plants looked up, sniffed….”Oh, I remember this,” he said. “This is Outside!”
“Yes,” I replied. “This is Outside. You haven’t been here in a while.”
“I know. We came in from the cold and the wet. Reggie says we’re The Chosen Ones.”
“Yes, Reggie. He’s a Parsley. We’re Broccoli.”
“You certainly are! Did you figure that out all on your own, or did Reggie fill you in?”
“Nope, we knew…we just knew. Reggie says it’s all in the seed, the knowing is all in the seed.”
I looked at my parsley, who was waving in the breeze, freshly showered.
“So, you’re Reggie. You’ve been helping these guys along, eh?”
“Hey. Nice to talk to you. Yeah, I’ve been filling them in from time to time. Cool little guys.”
“They sure are! Look at them, with their heads growing! What’s with being, “The chosen Ones?”
“Well we are, aren’t we? Besides, it makes the kids feel extra special. I remember you taking down the tomatoes, bringing us in. What happened to my herb garden brothers and sisters?”
“Well, Reggie, Nature happened. You know, time…the Thyme is still going out on the back patio, but the rest gave in to the cold.”
“Cool, the Thyme is still hanging in there. Maybe I can see that plant again before our time comes?”
“You bet! If it isn’t critical tomorrow, I’ll bring him out front and let you all hang out together.”
“Cool. Maybe I can get another shower.”
“Any time.” So, do these guys have names yet, or should I do something about that?”
“Oh, yeah! This one here, with the littlest head, is Little Sprite.
“You gonna say Hello to the nice human, Sprite?”
“Hi, Nice Human! Thank you for bringing us in from Outside! I like the lights!”
“He’s a spark, that one,” Reggie went on, ‘and this guy here is Drake.
“He’s your ‘Middle Child.”
“Uh-Oh,” I said. “I am a middle child…”
“It’s not too bad,” he assured me. “He’s just…growing up. Hey, Drake, My Man, whatcha got to say for yourself?”
“OK…just testing. Hi, Human. You gotta name?”
“Yes, Drake, my name is Wendy.”
“Nice to talk to you. I know, you talk to us all the time, but we never answered until now. Reggie’s been saying we should get to know you, he might not be around much longer.”
“Really? Reggie, what makes you say that?”
“Well, like I explained to the little button heads here, I’m getting a little tired. I’m way past my normal growth period. How much longer do you figure I’ll be around?”
“I’ll let you tell me. You tell me when it’s time to go, OK?”
“That works. OK, last but not least, Senor Big Head over there, is Bud.
“Bud, Dude! Say Hello to Wendy!”
“Hey, Wendy! Thanks for bringing us through the portal today!”
“Yeah. The big flat thing that you go through to go Outside. There’s another one in there, too, that you go through, to go…where do you go when you go through that one?”
“Oh, the door! I call it a door, but portal sounds cooler. The other one goes inside, into the house.”
“We decided to let it be a portal,” Reggie explained, ” ’cause it goes Outside, to the Beyond.”
“Beyond is cold,” Sprite proclaimed. “It’s nice today, though, and I really liked my shower.”
“Yeah,” Bud said, “thanks for that. That sticky white stuff was getting old.”
“Sticky white…oh, yes, the insecticide. I had to use it, I’m sorry. You guys were getting all chewed up by worms.”
Sprite said, “Yeah! They were all over me and making these huge holes in my leaves and it HURT!”
“So,” added Drake, “now that we’re all clean, will those worms come back?”
“I hope not, Drake, but if they do, I’ll hose you all down again and get rid of them.”
“Reggie, looks like you need a haircut. You look like a green Hippie.”
“Green is good.”
“Sure is. But you need a clip. Maybe tomorrow?”
“Okay, but try to leave some of it, this time, eh? I thought I was a goner last summer when you cut it all off.”
“Worms again. Parsley worms for you.”
“Yeah, I saw them. They got pretty big off my dreads. Pretty colors, though. Nature says they become big butterflies.”
“Yup, so I’m told. That’s why I didn’t kill them off. I clipped you, worms and all, and put your clippings and your butterfly worms in a safe spot so they could go on.”
“What happened to the peppers?” Bud asked.
I picked them all, cooked them in the roaster Outside, and made them all into hot sauce.”
“Is that what stunk? I thought I was going to die!”
“That’s why I cooked them Outside. You think it was rough with the portal open, you should try breathing in those fumes in the kitchen.”
“Reggie says you’re going to EAT US!!!” Sprite suddenly shouted.
Oh, Lord….suddenly, memories of this conversation last summer, with the young spinach heads, came flooding back. How did I assuage their fears? Think fast, Human…
“Well, guys…that’s true. BUT, I’m not going to eat you whole. I’ll cut your hair like I did with Reggie, and eat that part, and that will make room for more to grow. See? Bud already has side shoots starting.”
Drake piped up, “I thought they were pit buds.”
“Well, that’s one way of looking at them, and you’ll have them soon, too.”
“So…” Sprite was not about to give up. “You won’t just kill us off and eat us all up?”
“Nope. I’ll cut your hair, when it’s the right time, and you’ll tell me when it’s time to go, just like Reggie will.”
“And remember, Little Dude,” Reggie put in, “some day, it’s time for all creatures, plant and animal, to go. It’s that whole circle thing I told you about.”
“You’re a very wise plant, Reggie.”
“Comes from good fertilizer….”
“Hehehe…yeah, we all need a little BS.”
And as the sun set over my little slice of Paradise
I finished chatting up my little green buddies, brought them in, and tucked them safely back into their spaces.
Back under their warm lights, in front of their sparkling (sort of) clean sun shiney windows…
With a very wise, very cool parsley watching over them.