It’s February, which means it’s almost spring, which means the front section of every hardware store and garden center in the region is bursting with optimistic seed packets, bulbs, and seed starting kits. And, of course, I fell for it. 99 cent seed packets are just too hard to resist!
This, even though I literally have thousands of seeds from recent years that have gone unplanted. (I used to brag about how much cheaper it was to grow from seed packs, but when you’re only planting 6 out of 100 and the rest of the messy little packet just takes up space, it seems less and less like the most economical choice. There’s the, forgive me, “seed” of truth. I’m a seed hoarder. I just don’t have the patience to grow them.)
I’ve had so many starts and stops with gardening ventures in the past few years that I’ve learned the hard way to scale back. Way, way back. I should just give up, right? Call it quits and become a dedicated farmers market patron.
And yet. And yet and yet and yet! I’m a gardening masochist. It’s 2016, my third year, and I’m giving those pesky vegetables a try yet again.
But not without a little help.
Behind the colorful seed racks and below the shelves teeming with adorable watering cans and patterned gloves and seed starting kits, I found these little boxes of promises called Patio Pickers.
Patio Pickers are basically do-it-yourself gardening boxes that don’t require much doing from yourselfing. It’s like the opposite of every Pinterest movement. It’s plastic. It’s ugly. It’s corporate. It’s $29.98. I bought three.
They’ve gotten rave reviews on Lowes. It promises to prevent over-watering, which I am guilty of. Also under-watering, which I am also guilty of. There’s an aeration screen at the bottom that’s supposed to keep the plant roots up out of the water reservoir, supposedly, and a sheet of plastic over the top keeps moisture locked in. It’s practical mulch for people who don’t give two shits about aesthetics. Truth be told, I see lots of small-scale commercial farmers use the same tactic. It helps with spacing and moisture and insects. I’m hoping that once that plants fill in, you won’t be able to see the plastic. And I think when it gets really hot, you take the plastic off so that they don’t die from heat stroke.
The planters are 24″ x 20″ and come with wheels, which I didn’t use, as well as directions. Depending on the plants you use, you can plant up to 12 plants in the thing and let it grow. You have to pick up potting mix, fertilizer, and dolomite (calcium + magnesium lime stuff) because, apparently, good old fashioned potting soil or just dirt is the guaranteed fastest way to ruin your plants in these things. That black tube in the corner? That’s where you pour in the water.
I picked up broccoli, brussel sprouts, and kale, cut Xs in the plastic and dropped them in. It’s been two days and so far they’re doing good! I also bought new herbs for my favorite herb pot. The cilantro wilted after one hard freeze but they’ve bounced back nicely, and even the cats are staying away.
When the wind isn’t howling down the valley, as it is want to do, I almost think I can hear my little plants growing. I’ll keep you filled in on their progress in weeks to come. If they really take off, I might just buy three more and line my porch with them!