Reading about gardening helps me endure February, and one of my favorite books for this time of year is The Bountiful Container by Rose Marie Nichols McGee and Maggie Stuckey. I'm a fairly new gardener, and their basic, practical, and reassuring advice seems like it was written just for me. I have always admired those mystical souls who seem to have the magic touch with plants. Then I read The Bountiful Container and guess what? It turns out, light, water, and fertilizer are important, too.
I have never had a garden on the ground. Where we live, the deer, rabbits, and other critters would destroy anything I attempted to grow. Besides, my favorite things to grow, tomatoes, strawberries, and herbs, are so easy to grow in containers--why bother with tilling, weeding and irrigating? Container gardening presents its own challenges, however. A beloved member of this family--one with floppy ears and four giant paws--loves to dump out my flower pots and scatter soil across the patio. He sees me playing in the dirt, so why can't he? Winter birdfeeding has trained the birds to come to the patio, and they are only too happy to help themselves to my strawberries in summer. (Strategic placement of a few plastic snakes helped last year. Thanks for the tip, Mom!)
In spite of the challenges, I'm determined to have a successful container garden this year. Like I said, I'm still pretty new at this, so my goals are modest. Enough tomatoes to serve a platter of sliced tomatoes with mozarella and balsamic vinegar (can you tell I'm so ready for summer?) Enough strawberries to top a family-sized strawberry shortcake. And this year, I'm trying cucumbers and lettuce for the first time. Just so I can say for once in my life, "This salad is made of our home grown vegetables."
I plan to be really obnoxious about it, and sprinkle it into conversation at inappropriate times. "Yeah, well, speaking of politics, the other day we were eating our home grown tomatoes, and..."