Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Creating my First Garden (from the ground up)

I'm honestly not sure what's taken me so long, but I think it's about time I start my own garden. I've only had the privilege of cooking with ingredients straight from the vine (or sea in one incident involving a freshly-caught 325-pound shark) on a couple occasions since I started going down this road. Those experiences, though, were undoubtedly among the best in my very short cooking career, and I want to make them a more frequent occurrence. It may have taken me longer than it should have to come to this realization, but I'm finally there: Any cook who is worth anything simply knows the ingredients he works with and has put in the time and effort to understand how to make those ingredients do the work for him in the kitchen. From this notion followed the epiphany that the best way to comprehend my ingredients (and their potential for greatness as parts of a whole) was to cultivate them for myself.

Ok, great. So I want to get a start on my new garden. Just one problem: I live in an apartment with little to no viable earth on the premises. Oh and never have I seen myself as the inheritor of the proverbial "green thumb." So of course I set out to learn from the greatest teacher of our generation: Google. I dove into my research with the intention of beginning my garden with one small basil plant that I could nurture indoors. After delving into the list of equipment and materials I would require to execute such a goal, I happened to mention my plans out loud to Luke, and I could not have been more pleasantly surprised by his answer. In over 2 years of dating this man, I had no idea he was the gardener type. It feels great to be able to continue pulling back the layers with him to discover such charming tid bits. But I digress. His immediate reaction was one of support and genuine enthusiasm. To my astonishment, he started throwing out all sorts of ideas to build a hydroponic growth system for the foods I wanted to be able to grow in my limited natural environment. I knew there would eventually be a tangible advantage to having a 2 bedroom apartment all to myself! 

Unfortunately, the hydroponic system would initially demand a relatively large sum, one that I'm not necessarily willing to dole out so quickly as a lower-middle class working girl. So to launch the "garden," we have decided to grow basil, jalapeños, and possibly tomatoes. Luke offered to build a stand for my pots that would elevate them on my porch to a level that would bring them a sufficient amount of sunlight. For now, this process will be significantly cheaper and will afford me the opportunity to test my true willingness to care for a dog, a cat, a boyfriend, and a couple of plants. Should I happen to succeed in raising something that musters even the shadow of what should be a food product, I can't see any reason not to expand my garden to the hydroponic realm and put that spare room of mine to good use! 

Having a new project like this to throw myself into feels incredible, and I can assure you, my cyber friends, that the entire process will be well documented with photos and explanations. I am so curious to see what could come of this, and what it might feel like not to have to purchase all of the condiments for my homemade Pho separately. But that's a posting for another time.

Here's to all of this coming from just across the hall.

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