Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I've made two attempts to grow stuff, with surprising success.  Should I ever have a larger space to grow things, I shall try again.

The first time, I was ambitious.  I had never had a garden before.  My parents could hardly maintain a lawn, let alone a garden.  I didn't know anybody who had one.  I was a graduate student, and my friends were equally clueless.  I was on my own.  But I wanted to do it.

So, I started by spending a good part of two weeks turning over the soil in my 10 by 15 foot patch with a shovel, and pulling out ever vestige of root and weed by hand.  It seemed like a good idea.  Before that, I'd had to cut away a huge growth of feral, thorny rosebush.  I think this plant had a serious grudge against some previous owners, as it did nothing but send long, LONG branches covered with thorns in all directions.

I was reading a bunch of stuff about asian peasants at the time, so at first, I wanted to grow rice.  Sure, it was Michigan, and I was in a suburb next to other houses and stuff, but I thought it would be really cool to have a rice paddy.  I would feel solidarity with the peasantry!  My peasant studies teacher said he'd give me an automatic A for growing rice!  However, I found that it was next to impossible to find proper cultivation tips for growing rice.  I had no clue what to do.  I also sort of worried about the whole fetid swamp effect.

Then I went to the store, and bought a bunch of seedlings.  I mostly got pepeprs, bell and jalapeno and habanero and bananna peppers.  I love cooking with peppers, so I figured I'd use them.  I also planted some swiss chard, because I had some left over space, it was there in the market, I didn't know what it was and was tempted by its exotic lure, and couldn't think of anything else to do.  I grew up in a household where we ate virtually no vegetables or fish, and had only recently come to a basic understanding with green vegetables.

So, I planted things.  I soon realized that I'd planted everythign way too close together, but whatever.  The plants grew straight up, instead of out, so to keep them from falling over, I tied them to stakes.  They got used to this after a while.  Bugs attacked, so I spent time picking bugs off my plants, and treated them with some organic home remedies I read about online.  One of them involved tabasco sauce and urine, if I recall correctly.  It worked, and all my plants survived.  Peppers are pretty hardy, I guess.

The plants grew, and then they started producing tasty peppers.  I was happy!  I ate them.  Then I realized how many peppers I was to have, and started giving them away.  There were too many peppers!  Arg!  I had no idea what to do with them, so I either ate them fresh, gave them away (most memorably, I gave away a few pounds once in a big basket as a housewarming present), or let them rot.

Then winter came and everything died.  The circle of life and all.  The next year I was lazy, and after the spring planting season had passed, I put down a few flowers, just so I wasn't stuck with a big empty patch of dirt.

My first year in Japan, I again decided to try growing stuff.  I got some window boxes, and again wanted to grow peppers.  They are hard to find here, and I missed them.  I also wanted to grow cilantro, which is impossible to find here.  I planted some habaneros (lord knows why I could find them - far too hot for most Japanese people to touch, let alone eat), togarashi (domestic red chilis, very mild), a couple bell peppers, and a box of cilantro from seed.

The cilantro died, as I didn't know how to sprout it right.  Also, it was getting too much sun, I think.  The togarashi and habaneros did quite well.  For a while, they were being attacked rather mercilessly by some sort of insect, until one day a bunch of ants showed up.  From that day forward, the ants took care of my insect-killing work, and my plants were bug free.  Yay, ants!  Sadly, the bell peppers never grew properly - I think the boxes were too small.

Since then, I've been lazy.  Random stuff sprouts in my boxes.  I let it do what it likes, and it dies eventually.

by Zwackus on Wed Oct 24th, 2007 at 10:20:27 PM EST

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