Posts from the “Diary of a Black Thumb” Category

The Return of the Mad Gardener

Posted on April 18, 2011


A couple of years ago, I experimented with vegetable gardening. Though I am a plant murderer of the first order, I successfully grew tomatoes and basil in containers for a while. Things went wrong when I tried to grow a lot of things from seed. Part of the reason for the demise of said plants was I left the newbie sprouts for a week while I was out of the country. The other reason things went wrong: I came back from my trip and there was a month’s worth of torrential rain. Plants do like water, but perhaps not that much water.

Well, I moved to Louisiana.

And then I got bold.

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Squash Blossom

Posted on September 25, 2009

squashblossomsSo, yeah…I started this vegetable garden project before I left for France. The update: I need to try again with the carrots and peas, but I’ve got a good bit of winter greens (arugula, kale and turnip greens), some major radish action and these lovely spaghetti squash blossoms that began blooming as soon as the sun came out in Atlanta this week. I write about this, knowing full well that it could all end tomorrow, that weird-looking bugs could gnaw the kale and lay eggs on the squash, giving way to all manner of slimy, wormy stuff that I’ll find very upsetting (and gross).

But I have faith.

Now I know I’m supposed to be transplanting my crops from containers into a nice, well-fertilized spot in my yard. That was part of the original plan, but it hasn’t happened yet. I’m working on it though.


In the meantime, here’s an easy, Giada De Laurentiis recipe for arugula pesto. I made it the other night with some of the arugula I’ve been growing and it seemed to be a big hit.

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How Does My Garden Grow?

Posted on August 22, 2009

Things I like: Trips to Paris (one week and counting!), gin and tonic, strong line play in SEC football, roomy handbags that look more expensive than they actually are. Happy clients are good.  But so is the promise of seeing an old roommate in one of the world’s greatest cities.

Things I don’t like: Overbearing wait staff that interrupt the convo flow during drinks/snacks with an old friend, waking up at 4 a.m. for no special reason, Nick Saban.

Things that unnerve me: Disney movies involving princesses, geese, this garden I’ve started.

Since starting The Farmer Paige Project almost two weeks ago, most of the seeds have sprouted and grown unruly under their secure little see-through plastic thingie. So this week I’ve transferred most of the sprouts to pots full of rich soil and organic fertilizer and set them outside to keep my tomato plants company.

As Duran Duran would say, this is simply a view to a kill.

As Duran Duran would say, this is a view to a kill.

They needed some room to spread out. Especially the radishes.

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Spreading Seeds

Posted on August 18, 2009

You can almost hear these spaghetti squash seeds screaming for mercy.

You can almost hear these spaghetti squash seeds screaming for mercy.

Last night my husband and I learned that some very dear friends of ours will be parents in April of next year. Upon hearing the news, I told my husband “I suspected as much. After all, this week she had some strange Facebook status about being so sick to her stomach she never wanted to eat Chinese food again. So, um, you do the math…”

“Do the math? What math?” he asked with a confused look on his face.

“Come on, THE MATH! They’ve been married a year and a half now, so it was only a matter of time. And really…Chinese food?”

“She could have had bad Chinese food,” he said. “It happens.”

“Well, Chinese food doesn’t get you pregnant, dude,” I muttered as I texted a friend in Dallas ‘Holy Moly. (Insert friend here) is going to be a dad!’”


Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Photo:

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Photo:

Thomas Jefferson had a 1,000-foot-long vegetable garden at his home, Monticello. His garden was divided into 24 plots, all of them arranged by the type of vegetable harvested – fruits (tomatoes, for instance), roots (carrots) or leaves (lettuce).

According to the Monticello web site: “the garden served as both a source of food for Jefferson’s family and a kind of laboratory where Jefferson experimented with 250 varieties of more than seventy species of vegetables from around the world. Plants in the garden included squash and broccoli imported from Italy; beans and salsify collected by the Lewis and Clark expedition, figs from France, and peppers from Mexico. Jefferson documented his successes and failures in his Garden Book, noting, for instance the dates when seeds were planted, when leaves appeared, and when their fruits came “to table.” He applied his analytical mindset to gardening, writing that “I am curious to select one or two of the best species or variety of every garden vegetable, and to reject all others.”

After reading an article about an heirloom seed company in the August issue of “O” Magazine, I confess I was tempted to order a handful of their eclectic seed packets. It might be fun to experiment, I thought. It might be fun to make like TJ and select the best of the best in my crops.

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Posted on August 13, 2009

My horticultural ineptitude has shipped many innocent plants off to that sunny, well-fertilized garden in the sky. Though my great-grandmother grew award-winning African violets and my uncle regularly harvests his own homegrown vegetables (everything from finger-length okra to plump, juicy tomatoes), I…well…actually have a pretty thick rap sheet of crimes against Mother Nature.

How bad are my offenses? Try real, live un-premeditated cactus murder, for starters. As for the rest, I’ll just leave that up to your imagination.

Any time my mother visits, she goes room to room, shaking her head as she rounds up pots of wilted ivy and brings them to the kitchen sink. “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank yoooooou!!!” she wails as she waters each plant. “They’re crying out, Paige. Can’t you hear them? Your plants are grateful I’m here to save them once again.”

Gee thanks, Mom.

In my defense, it’s possible that motherhood showed me I could actually nurture and care for something and not have it all go dreadfully wrong;

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