The Dweller Goes Gardening: How to get a little green in your apartment

Good morning fellow home owners/leasers/renters/squatters. Coming to you from one sunlit and breakfast-strewn nook, there is one pressing matter in the world of home dwelling this morning.
An adventure has begun to unroll here on College Street, and it’s name is botany. The plantlife have chosen their homes – an old metal trash can, an Arizona can cut in half, a Big Gulp, a half-pint ice cream container, and some assorted other plastic contraptions, all lovingly perforated with 1/2″ holes in the bottom (water flow!). They have also all earned names, for as we know, plants with names receive better care (something about you loving them more because they have a name. Makes sense). Rosemary is the rosemary plant (it gets better, I swear), the lemon balm is Lemony Snicket, the spider plants are Peter Parker and Tobey, the mint is Minty Sedgwick. Creative, right?

When in the pursuit of foliage, it’s important to get your hands dirty. This is not a figurative statement. It is a very, very good idea to get in tune with your new plant friends by sticking your hand as far into the dirt as possible. Wriggle your fingers around a little, feel up the roots. You’re not taking advantage of anything, you’re gathering the information you need to take good care. Is the dirt warm? (It’s better for most plants when it is, cold wet dirt = mould) Is the dirt too dry? It’s unlikely that it is, if you water like most. But it’s always good to check.

Just like humans, plants need a little je-ne-sais-quoi before they willingly settle into a new environment. A little pampering, a little foresight, a little oomph. And whether for you this means pretty little stones and a terra cotta planter, special garden trinkets to scatter about the soil, or just some balled up newspaper, you have to find a way for the water to trickle down real nice. So, before you pop your greenery into their new homes it is important to prepare the way. A couple stones are a good idea, shredded newspaper is too. Just give that dirt a little somethin-somethin underneath.

Now the soil. You can buy a bag of whatever suits your fancy from your local green grocer, but it’s important to amp it up. The very nice lady at Milk & Things suggested these little fertilizer sticks – they look like Pop Eye cigarettes and you stick one in every sixty days. Done. Also, if you have access to cows or compost, you’re in luck. Plants love rolling around in cow poop, and decomposed matter for that… matter. Turn a little compost or dried manure into your soil every now and again to make it really poop! I mean pop!

The only other really worthwhile tip worth tipping is to care for your plants with the same love and adoration you would any cherished friend. Keep a little watering tool near your sink so when you’re doing the dishes you’ll remember to water your plants. Introduce your houseguests to them. Pluck the undernourished-looking leaves, as well as the bully leaves who are hogging all the sun. If you catch yourself sometimes thinking about your plants when you’re out, it’s totally okay. You’re still cool. Just weird cool.

By Annie Webber


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