A change of venue

There’s been a lot of motion happening for me this year, and so it should come as no surprise that I’m adding another move to the list. This time, it’s a blog move of sorts.

I’ve dug in over at http://www.theinadvertentgardener.com, which isn’t all that much of a change; after all, that URL has always brought you to the right landing place. But for those of you who have this specific address bookmarked or in your feed reader, now’s the time to update. The latest, greatest RSS feed is located here:
http://www.theinadvertentgardener.com/index.php/feed/

If you still have the old feed in your reader, you may see some posts bubble up – I’m going to be doing some cleanup along the way and redirecting links from this location to the new one. If you have me in your blogroll, I’d love it if you’d update the link, too.

So, on to http://www.theinadvertentgardener.com. Hope to see you there!

Guest post: A garden out of control

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Chase Ledebur, my cousin Kären’s son. Chase has been gardening this summer for the first time at home, and I wanted you to hear from this wonderful and talented 12-year-old in his very own words.

Hi, I’m Chase – welcome to my garden. This is the first vegetable garden I’ve had at home. At school I was a part of planting a community garden, but it is a flower garden.

My Mom and I built the raised bed together and then planted 4 varieties of tomatoes, summer squash, three kinds of peppers, zucchini, Japanese eggplant, basil and oregano.

I have really enjoyed watching the plants grow and bear fruit. At first it started out small, but it’s now out of control. It’s so out of control that we had to cut back all our plants, stake some of them, and we are constantly harvesting all of our vegetables.

I love the whole process. Next year I think we’ll plant less, or maybe we’ll add another bed.

Photography shouldn’t distract from weeding

On my way out to Oakland from Iowa, I made a stop in Grand Junction, Colorado, at my cousin’s house. She and her son Chase had planted their first vegetable garden in a beautiful raised bed off one side of the house. Tomatoes, squash, basil, oregano – the garden was still filled with seedlings when I got there, but had the promise of an amazing summer of production.

Chase gave me a tour of the garden before I headed out toward Salt Lake City, where I had a dinner planned with Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, and I started shooting pictures almost as soon as I got out there. Chase put up with my paparazzi-esque behavior while he weeded the garden, but only did so for so long.

“Genie,” he said, looking up at me with a pointed look. “You really could stop taking those pictures and start helping me with the weeding.”

Well, I did help. A bit. And just recently, I asked my cousin if Chase might be interested in giving my readers an update on how the garden is doing, now that the summer season is in high gear and veggies are popping out all over. As it turned out, he was interested, so stay tuned – on Wednesday, I’ll be turning the floor over to Chase, who is more than just an excellent gardener – he’s a fantastic kid!

Green Thumb Sunday: Sunflower unfurling

Gardeners, plant and nature lovers can join in Green Thumb Sunday every week. Visit As the Garden Grows for more information.

Puppet shows, live at the Victory Garden!

Yes, folks, if you are of the ilk that likes puppet shows, fun carnival games and other interactive experiences, but are also of the ilk that does not like to pay for said shows/games/experiences, do I have an activity for you.

On Saturday, August 16, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Victory Garden, there will be a Community Day and Sustainability Resource Fair. I also have on good authority that there will also be a group celebrating Pakistani Independence Day, but that is independent of this particular event.

Regardless, it’s going to be a wild and wacky day at the garden, so why not come down and join the party? I’ll be there all day, helping guide you through the World Famous Victory Garden.

My indoor plant license should be revoked

When I gave up the opportunity to plant a garden (even the balcony variety) at my own apartment, I did not forego all outdoor space. My Oakland apartment building boasts a rooftop deck and an interior courtyard, and although I-880 hugs the building on its opposite side, it is possible to sit outside on one of the lovely wooden benches and get some fresh air and sunlight.

“Maybe you could get them to let you put a tomato in a corner of the upstairs deck,” one of my friends said when I moved in.

No such luck. Although I’m a renter, my landlord is a condo owner, and it’s a condo building, complete with everything that comes along with it: sterilely manicured open space, a list of approved movers to use when entering or leaving the premises with your worldly belongings, and, although I will admit I haven’t asked the question, an absolutely-not policy on putting tomato plants on the roof.

So instead, I’ve been trying to make do with a miniscule potted plant collection in my living room window. I have a low table and plenty of light (although not much direct sunlight, to be honest), coming in, and that has caused me, in moments of weakness, to buy plants that I am probably dooming to certain death.

My indoor plant track record has not ever been good.

The first arrival on the scene was a mini Gerbera, bought at Trader Joe’s. The movers had just arrived that morning, and I was exhausted and at the store expressly for the purpose of impulse-buying large quantities of cheese and wine and convenience foods, and the cheery red flowers (oh, how I do love Gerberas) sat there muttering at me as I went by, “Hey lady! Lady! How ‘bout just a little taste?”

Of course, the following weekend, I was leaving for Hawaii for a week’s vacation, with no plan for watering the Gerbera while I was gone. It still has barely-surviving foliage, to be sure, but since I returned from Kaua’i, has refused me additional blossoms.

Then, last week, after my first stint in the Victory Garden, I decided to buy a basil plant that was on sale at Whole Foods. (You may notice a trend here, a trend that involves shopping when hungry AND needy-of-plants.)

The basil plant was beautiful, indeed, but I purchased it and did what I do with every plant I ever take home, whether I’m on vacation or not: I forget to water it. Or, worse, I remember that I should water it and just think, Oh, I’ll do that later. And then later becomes dinner out with friends and then there’s that workout I really should be getting to and then I have laundry to do and the dishes to wash and then…and then…

This is why outside plants and I get along so much better. If I don’t plant them under a godforsaken Black Walnut, they have such a better shot at getting what they need from the sun and the rain and the earth-that’s-not-potting soil.

This leads me to the inevitable, which is Sunday, when I suddenly looked at the basil plant and noticed that it was utterly droopy. This set me atwirl, trying to remember if I’d watered it, or if I’d over-watered it, or if I’d maybe given it some wine just for fun one night?

I decided to go with under-watering, because that’s my usual M.O., and gave it a drink. The water ran right out the bottom as if it didn’t even want to stop to say hello to the dirt, so I gave it some more, operating in my usual, I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing manner.

I also watered the Gerbera, which is really just a pot of Gerbera greens, which is really a plant that I kind of want to just throw out, but which makes me guilty so I keep it and begrudgingly nurture it. I am like that guy in The DaVinci Code, the albino monk? That Gerbera plant is my cilice.

By the next day, the Gerbera was waving its little fronds of greens in the air like a happy camper. And the basil, while still clearly in need of more attention, looked at least a little less limp. That’s really all I can ask for.

Except that I’m going away for the weekend. I promise I’ll water the plants before I go, but seriously…if they gave out licenses to garden indoors, mine would have already been revoked.

A different kind of weeding

While Lauren and I were locked deep in conversation with a Victory Garden visitor (Well, let me be honest about this…said visitor was expounding on the lack of grocery stores in the Tenderloin and the state of Grocery Nation in San Francisco, and Lauren and I were more trapped than locked deep…), I noticed a man down at the far end of the garden. He seemed to be running up to the statue that sits between City Hall and the garden, smacking the statue and then running away. Then repeating this. Again and again.

I dismissed this behavior as a figment of my imagination, and turned my attention back to the lecture at hand.

A few minutes later, a man in a black leather jacket strode forcefully past the garden, heading toward UN Plaza.

“Want me to come plant some weed?” he yelled.

None of us were quite clear about what he said at first, so I yelled back, “What did you say?” I can hear the collective groan of anyone and everyone who has told me not to engage crazy people in the street. But I cannot help it. I simply have to be polite.

“Some weed!” he yelled back, never breaking stride. “I’ll come in there and plant some weed. It’s a community garden, right?”

“I guess that’s why they have 24-hour guards,” Lauren said.

“Oh my gosh,” I said. “I never thought of THAT kind of vandalism. That’s kind of subversive and brilliant.”

“I think that guy’s having his own kind of day,” said the man who we’d been talking to. Lauren and I turned, and I realized that the prospective weed planter was the same guy who had been slapping the statue down at the other end of the garden. There he was, his arms wrapped around the narrower sibling to the first statue, lifting his body up so his legs stuck out horizontal to the ground. Then he dismounted the second statue and strode toward the street.

“I think,” said the grocery store lecturer, “that’s what happens when you start your day with a breakfast of vodka.”

“Or weed,” I said.


Getting in touch

Need garden advice? Then you probably shouldn't send me an email.

Also, please note that this site has now relocated and will not be updated. You can find me at the new and improved location.

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All words and images (unless otherwise credited) on The Inadvertent Gardener are © 2006-2008 Eugenia E. Gratto. All rights reserved.

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