Saturday, September 17, 2011

My Tiny Backyard Garden

- by Lily

Several friends at work have their own vegetable gardens. Sometimes they bring their harvest, cucumbers, pears, or melons to share. Sometimes they bring seedlings to exchange. This year they finally convinced me to take home a purple basil and a tomato seedling.

“Not that I don’t want to have a veggie garden; I need coaching since I’ve never done it.” I warned them. Don’t worry, these are easy plants, just put them on the ground and water them, so they assured me. Well, I do have another logistic problem, space. My hubby would not sacrifice his beautiful lawn for my garden experiment. The only possible place he would allow is the southwest corner of our fenced backyard, where the dirt is mostly from dumps of construction materials - mortars and rocks and not even grass grows well there.

To help the plants, I filled the two pits I dug each with a bag of rich garden soil before I put the seedlings in. And I tried my best to remember watering the plant once a day, of course Allan helped on that end. I also used a Texan’s method of organic gardening per my friends' suggestions: I throw some veggie or fruit peels to my small garden once in a while, to enrich the soil - it is not stinking up yet.

To my delight both plants adapted to their new environment well.

The basil grew tall and wide quickly. Soon I could pick a handful to try out some basil soup. The basil bloomed in August, many shoots of tiny purple flowers. I gathered more leaves to make pesto sauce for pasta, it was quite a success. Basil is annual, right? I panicked. Don’t worry, my friend said, just collect some seeds after the flowers fall and grow some more next year. I collected some seeds. I also “banked” some pesto sauce, saved as frozen cubes that would last me awhile.

My tomato also grew tall, it seemed to thrive under the sunshine. I was forewarned that tomato tree won’t set fruit when the temperature is over 100F; but if it is kept alive then in the fall it’ll bear fruits. I kept watering it and wondered when the record summer heat would subside. One morning in August I found a tiny green fruit hanging on a branch. What a surprise, we were still in the height of summer heat. A couple of weeks later, I found a few more green balls budding. Now I had to watch out for the birds because they peck on red fruits, per my friend's warning. Well, not much I can do there. One day, one of the tomatoes started to turn red. I considered covering it with plastics, but decided against it. The red tomato hung there for almost a week. I guess the birds haven’t discovered my corner yet. So I harvested my very first tomato, small but fresh.

Now I just need a few more tomatoes to make basil tomato soup, all fresh ingredients out of my garden.

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