The joy of indoor gardening
The love for plants blooms
My mom had several indoor plants including aloe vera and geraniums. Most of her indoor plants held prominent positions on the living room windowsill. There were a couple of plants in the kitchen window as well. I always loved those plants because they were so green and lush and the blooms were beautiful.
Mom took very good care of her plants. She even talked to them most mornings. As a child I'd watch her water the plants with her "funny looking can with a long nose", and move them around for best sunlight baths. I never really thought much about those lovely plants. That is until I tried to grow my own, but more on that in a bit.
My mom's green thumb did not stop with houseplants. She also had a small garden in our side yard. In the garden she grew cherry tomatoes, rhubarb, green onions and mint. There was a crab apple tree near that garden and under that tree is where I loved to play, read and just sit.
She would harvest her garden and the apples and use them in her recipes. My favorite was fresh mint hot tea when I had a tummy ache. Neighbors would come and ask to pick some of those tart crab apples. They would make applesauce and pies and then bring us some.
Mom also had flowers in the front yard. Irises in beds on either side of the front porch, an alyssum bush at the left corner of the house and morning glories in the far right corner of the yard. We would carefully and diligently pull weeds and monitor for pests in the garden and around the flowers.
Then there was the lawn. We had one of the most beautiful lawns on our block. Maybe one of the best on the whole street! I hated having to help mow it (the mower was taller than me until I was seven!). However, I loved to walk barefoot through that soft green carpet of grass!
I grew up around plants and learned how to respect them, thanks to my mom. She did not have a green thumb, both hands and arms were green (usually from weeding and pruning). I, however, did not inherit the gardening gene till later in life.
The not so green thumb experience
I first tried my hand at growing indoor plants when I was around 21 years old. In summation, it was a disaster. I found a cute little herb garden kit at the local box store and had to have it. It came with everything I needed (seeds, soil, tiny terracotta pots and a plastic case that doubled as a greenhouse) to start my little window box garden. This was ideal since I lived in a second floor apartment. Sounds awesome, right? Wrong, on so many levels.
My first mistake was to plant those poor seeds in the most humid room in the apartment, the bathroom. I know, I know. Dumb. I learned that rather quickly. Being a lover of warm showers, I assumed (and you know what that means) that the moisture in the air would mean I needed to water the plants less often to avoid drowning them. And there you have my second mistake. My third mistake was to not transfer those poor scraggly seedlings into bigger pots and a different room.
Yes, they all died miserable deaths. Their fates were sealed when I went out of town for a week and forgot all about them needing water, attention or light. The bathroom window was frosted, therefore only ambient light came in to begin with. I felt like an idiot when I came home and saw what I had done. Don't tar and feather me yet, I have another tale of houseplant woe.
After my first debacle, I had decided to stay away from trying to have houseplants. Then one day, out of the blue, I was given...a plant. They didn't know what it was but was hoping I could bring it back from the brink of death. Were they joking? Sadly, no. They were rather adamant that I accept the near dead plant. And so my next debacle had begun. My first mistake was not putting the poor thing in a sunny window. The next mistake was over watering it. The last mistake was not trying to re-pot the plant in fresh soil. The plant died within a few days.
I was done with plants of any kind. I felt offended that I could not keep a plant alive. The biggest mistake of all was not asking my mom for help. I was afraid she would be ashamed that I hadn't paid more attention when I was growing up.
What I learned
As the years have passed, I have had a growing desire to have houseplants. I went about it the smart way and did my homework first. I went online and searched out the kind of plants I wanted to grow.
My research yielded some very important, yet simple results:
- Start with fresh seed starting potting mix
- Water only when needed
- Provide adequate and equal sunlight/shade mixture (depending on the plant)
- Transfer to a larger pot when the time is right (usually when the first real leaves develop)
These are all so simple to do and require such little effort if you enjoy plants at all. I won't pretend like all of the sudden I am an expert gardener because I certainly am not. What I will say is that I have grown attached to my lil sprouts. For what it is worth, I do talk to them everyday.
Loving the indoor gardening life
I love my plants. I have Roman chamomile, alyssum and even grass growing in containers. Yes, I said grass. It came with seeds, soil disk and the cutest pink piggy ceramic pot. So even though I live on a third floor apartment, I still have grass! I just recently planted common sage and have high hopes that it will do as well as the others.
I do have reasons for choosing the plants I did:
- Chamomile has pretty white daisy-like flowers and a sweet scent. It is used in herbal teas for relaxation and stress relief, it can also be used in an herbal bath.
- Alyssum have a pleasant scent and the flowers are lovely. I choose it because it just seemed pleasant.
- Common sage is useful in cooking as well as for relieving stress and tension.
These are my reasons, not ones I found online. Based on personal experience. For example, I mentioned earlier the alyssum bush in the corner of my childhood home. My mom used sage when preparing holiday meals. And the grass, well the grass is a wonderful and cute novelty.
I have given my plants nicknames Cami for chamomile and Ally for alyssum. I don't care if that sounds silly or not. I am working on creating a garden on my kitchen window sill. So far I have cute pig statues, a friendly little gnome, a cherub and some lovely rocks. I hope to incorporate a small fountain sometime soon.
I find it relaxing to listen to the wind chime I have hanging above the window. It is especially nice during a warm rainy day when that stray cool breeze comes in the window.