Sunday, May 23, 2010

Strange Gardens

Author Charlene Teglia wrote a very neat post here about her adventures in gardening as they relate to writing, and I can't resist nicking her topic for some observations on what's growing in my little corner of Paradise.

This year among other things I'm growing grapes, raspberries, and stevia in containers on the porch (this is the trellis I rigged for the grapes.) Two of the plants were my daughter's idea; she wants to make homemade raspberry iced tea (our favorite flavor) and she's fascinated by how sweet stevia is (it's pretty much all I use now to sweeten my beverages.) The grape vine was something I simply couldn't resist; I love grapes and I think the vines are beautiful, especially when the grapes begin to ripen. Gardening should be about what makes you happy and gives you a real sense of anticipation.

I've grown a lot of things over the years and I think I'm a fairly knowledgeable gardener. I'm best with herbs and flowers but I've planted and harvested my share of potatoes, tomatoes, watermelon (which grows like weeds), pumpkins, corn and pretty much every type of citrus known to man. I dream about future gardens; someday I'd love to have enough land to plant a little orchard of peach and pecan trees.

Despite this experience, I've never tried to grow raspberries, grapes or stevia, so they are strange to me. The logical thing to do would be to search for info on the internet, flip through my gardening books or talk to someone who has grown them before to find out more about them before I do anything wrong. Which I'm not going to do. I like to garden without trying to load myself up with too many worries in advance, and when I experiment I prefer to tend to the new plants as I think best, observe and see what grows.

Container gardening is good that way because the pots are like oversize petri dishes; you can control the environment, watch them closely and see what happens without a lot of effort. And even if in the end we don't get a single edible raspberry, grape or stevia leaf from our container experiment, the time won't be wasted. I'll have an entire season of observations to draw on for the next time I try something like this.

When you're trying something new with your writing, it can be like growing something for the first time. You're going to be nervous and excited; you probably don't know what to expect. If you begin doubting that you can before you start the work, you may find reasons to put it off. You may think you need to study the type of story you're going to write, and see what everyone else has done and follow their example before you commit a word to the page (this would be when the fun begins to dwindle away.) You may even talk yourself out of it because you could do all that work and still end up with an end result that is unpalatable. And if you do that often enough, you won't ever try to grow anything but what you already know how to do.

I'm not saying you have to plant only things you've never tried to grow in your garden, or write things you've never before attempted with story. But consider setting aside a little time and space for an experiment here and there, and see how your garden grows.


  1. "Intuitive gardening" is exactly the way I do it too! :) I live in an apartment so I need to stick to container gardening. And lately I've been so crazy about plants that any container looks like a potential planter to me! LOL I've even started a "mini garden" of mustard greens and pea shoots in a coconut shell.

    Your grape trellis and that tiny container with such a healthy looking plant has totally inspired me! :)

  2. Oh. Hey. I wanted to do grapes but wasn't sure where to put them permanently; maybe I'll do them in a container! Love to know how the stevia works out.

    Observation and intuition are at least likely to lead to an original result. *g*

  3. Anonymous9:43 AM

    Very fun! I garden the same way, and I have a new grape in a container too! I believe, eventually, we will transplant it (or it's successor if need be) and train it to grow up and across our back porch. That structure, however, will be a project for next summer. :)

  4. If only I could get a real garden to grow as well as my Farmville crops...

  5. Great post! =) I love gardening as well, we have a huge backyard full of rose bushes. We also have a jasmine plant and some azaleas as well.

    The idea of growing plants in containers is a neat idea. :D I think I will try that next time I buy a packet of seeds.


  6. I tend to garden like you. About the only thing I read is 'sun' or 'shade' and I buy perennials. Other than that, I stick my plants where I think I want them and see what happens from there. I do take exception to roses, but those I've been growing forever so don't really even need to think about those.

    You should post something weekly on how your plants are all doing. I'd love to know how things go. :o)