Friday, March 7, 2014
I haven't grown much in 33 years.
I mean, I've grown (taller, louder and more comfortable with a sauce pan). But my experience nurturing a plant from seed to sprawling success is shamefully limited. More bluntly: I can kill a plant in the span of a week. Two, tops. It's a dark truth I've had to live with...and many a houseplant has died from.
But somewhere between learning not to splash hot oil on my forearms and preparing a plate of risotto that nearly made me weep with joy, I realized that I didn't just wanted to learn how to cook food, I wanted to learn how to grow it, too.
So on Saturday I attended a Container Edibles class at Skillins Greenhouses. Skillins offers free weekend classes at all three of their locations (Falmouth, Cumberland and Brunswick), ranging from flower growing to sustainable landscapes.
Barbara filled us in on the range of container gardening possibilities. You can grow just about anything in a container, she said, but growers need to make sure the container is big enough (lettuce doesn't require much space, but tomato roots really like to stretch out). And contained veggies need to be fed more often, since they're access to nutrient-rich soil is restricted.
It wasn't as simple as "drop seed in bucket, await fruit." But it sounded doable, even for a plant assassin.
With my head overflowing with thoughts of lobster compost and tomato plants tall enough to touch space, I wandered the greenhouse. My growing future was wide open. I could plant anything I wanted. I could grow (with luck, some tips from the neighbors and plenty of Googling) whatever suited my fancy.
I opted to start small, see how things went (specifically, whether things lived, died or got carried off by the local fauna). Cabbage and onion seedlings were planted in containers. Parsley and spinach seeds have been started. And in a couple of weeks I'll be back to the greenhouse for a tomato plant.
My makeshift garden won't impress passing pedestrians. But it's the largest vegetable garden I've ever had. And I'm glad that the dead zone created by an over-enthusiastic plow truck driver is finally being returned to productivity.
Even better, as of this morning my freshly planted soon-to-be food was right where I left it and still very much alive.
For updates on future classes offered at all the Skillins locations, check www.skillins.com/information.html
Shannon Bryan is a feature writer for the Portland Press Herald and content producer for MaineToday Media's entertainment website, www.mainetoday.com.
And here's a well-known truth: Shannon can't cook. She's also ostroconophobic (in Maine?!?), but in a foodie place like southern Maine, she's determined to learn how to cook, eat, and order with the best of them. Read about her culinary crusade:
Pans on fire
She's also an investigator into all that's strange and entertaining to do around here. Those findings are gathered here:
Out Going: Things to do in southern Maine