Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Ally Ringer: With small yard and a little luck, this city girl aiming to make Martha proud
My first confession is that I am a Martha Stewart junkie. There’s just something about the Martha style that I can’t get enough of. I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living magazine, where she always writes about life on the farm with her chickens and goats. She grows flowers, fruits and vegetables (I’m sure with the help of hundreds of Martha staff). She rides her horses around her 153 acres and goes on walks through her gardens. And every issue has beautiful articles about people living very farm-to-table lifestyles (an recipes).
I’m a little envious of anyone who grows her own food. I dream of living on a farm and throwing outdoor parties (under a large tree strung with lights), where I serve a meal that I grew and prepared myself.
Here’s the problem: I don’t live on a farm. I live in downtown Lexington, where I have about 10 square feet of green space.
Now, here’s my second confession: Although I dream big now, I’ve never had much of a “green thumb.” As a kid, my mom would invite me to help her plant flowers in the landscaping around our house. I would last about 15 minutes before I got bored and starting whining.
In college, I attempted to have a houseplant. I did alright until winter break, when I returned home to my parents and left the poor plant in my college housing, waterless and drooping. That was the first, and certainly not the last, plant killed by my neglect.
Since my first year of college in 2007, I’ve only lived in rental units. Rental units without yards. Rental units with landlords who would not appreciate me tearing up their grounds to plant a garden. But this year, my first official post-college home has a small yard and an awesome landlord who agreed to let me plant a small garden.
I planned to do a lot of research before planting my vegetables to learn about how much water and sunlight each variety needs, and when I should plant them. But, like most things in life, I never got around to doing all of that research, and ended up planting everything on a random May afternoon in hopes that something would grow.
My one well-planned gardening move was acquiring my plants locally, a few from Locust Trace AgriScience Farm, and the rest from the Lexington Farmer’s Market. By purchasing my plants from local, well-informed sellers, I know that my plants will (hopefully) survive this Bluegrass environment.
If nothing else, I can be proud that my plants are grown without pesticides or fertilizers, which means I am doing my part to keep our waterways a little cleaner (and my body a little healthier).
After a little over a month with my tiny garden, I am thrilled to report that every plant is still alive. And they are growing! My four tomato plants are getting so tall that they will soon outgrow their cages (another lack of research on my part). My zucchini have burst into beautiful yellow flowers, which I can only assume is a positive sign. My two pepper varieties have tiny baby pepper buds, which is a sign of life to this amateur gardener.
In the end, I hope to be able to prepare at least one urban garden-to-table meal. It would make Martha proud.
Ally Ringer is an environmental educator at Bluegrass PRIDE. She is originally from Crestwood and has a bachelor’s in community communications and leadership development from the University of Kentucky.
Photo provided by Ally Ringer