letters from nairobi

Green Thumb
January 29, 2012, 16:56
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

The one time I managed to keep a plant alive for more than one week was when I had a small bamboo plant during grad school, when I was living in Park Slope. (A bamboo tree grows in Brooklyn?)

Jefferson, as he was affectionately known, was a low-maintenance companion. In fact, I find it difficult to remember how often I watered him — if ever. He was the strong and silent type, keeping watch over the fire escape while I studied and ordered take-out.

Until, one day, he met a gruesome demise:

My dog ate him.

It’s been about two years since Jefferson made his journey to the great Chinese forest in the sky, and I feel like perhaps I am ready to give my green thumb another shot.

I have heard that the soil and climate in Kenya are ideal for growing plants and crops of all kinds, so I am taking a stab at cultivating my own garden (an “If I can’t make it here, I can’t make it anywhere” mentality). The small balcony off of my bedroom has a built-in garden area that receives direct sunlight for a few hours each morning, and then ambient light for the rest of the day.

Until a couple of days ago, it looked like this:

Then, I spent a few hours clearing out the purple plants (which I believe are a form of weed, as they grow everywhere), and it looked like this:

This morning, N. and some friends and I ate brunch at River Cafe, which has a large gardening depot adjacent to the restaurant. I bought some tools, soil, fertilizer, and a tomato plant, coriander, rosemary, sage, chives, and lemongrass.

I brought the plants home and transferred them to the garden outside. A couple of the seedlings didn’t weather the car trip home as well as the others — when I cut off the plastic bag they had been growing in, the soil crumbled away. But I planted them anyway, and now the space looks like this:

I think that it might be advisable to add another inch or two of soil, since the plants look vaguely volcanic at this point — I’m no gardener, obviously, but that seems odd.

If you have any gardening advice, friends, any and all help is much appreciated. Research online has only brought me the overwhelmingly detailed instructions from professional gardeners on things like checking the PH balance in the soil and splicing seeds.

All I’m looking for is something that doesn’t die, and that I can eat.

More nail-biting gardening posts to come. I hope.


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[…] last time I checked in on The State of the Garden, it was shortly after I planted herbs on the back balcony […]

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