...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Flailing Writer Goes Gardening (part one?)

This post has no whisky in it.

* * * * *

It's been a difficult year for me.

In 2011, I ended my previous stable 9:30-6:30 job with good folks in order to pursue my screenwriting career full time.  In 2012, the pursuit has gone so consistently poorly (at times abysmally) that I question that decision every day.  I won't burn the people I've worked with here.  I've had no personal problems with any of them and almost always enjoy interacting with them.  It's not that I lost faith in the system.  I never had faith in the system.  Successful screenwriters slip through the system in their own unique ways.  Rather, the disposability of the creative element has become so apparent to this creative element (me) that the act of creation seems like forgone trash.  There's money to be made in this, somehow, but the human element is dead as it is in most things related to business.  I'm now more focused on my own preservation than artistic creation.

And I've been sick more days this year than since I was a child.  Which is weird because (until now) I never get sick. I'm normally a healthy dude.  To quote LMFAO, I work out.  I eat less meat than I used to.  I drink less than I used to.  I stopped smoking cigars.  I hydrate appropriately.  Et cetera, et cetera.  Yet all of that, plus some more et cetera, has lost a lot of battles recently.

There are also numerous very personal issues that have gone precipitously downhill.  Some of which I must let fall apart.  Some of which I must save.

This is just a big lead-up to one thing.  I've lost my soul.  Not my SOUL.  But my soul.  As in Sam Cooke soul:

So how do I get that back?

Firstly, since I picked up a library card (remember those?) last month I've been reading more stuff than I have since I was that sickly kid.  But since the reading is there to build up my brain cells and writing style, I'll save the library tales for another post.

Secondly, I'm attempting to grow things.  Or at the very least, keep things alive.  Our condo has a great top-floor balcony that faces East, but also gets sun from the North and South.  It overlooks a noisy street, so there's a limit to how much a person may want to hang out there during the day.  But sun-loving plants would greatly desire to hang out there during the day.

Kristen and I like to keep as green, organic, and local as possible.  What's greener, more organic, and local than.......a garden on our property?

I don't have a green thumb or a black thumb or a brown thumb.  I have a thumb.  Two thumbs, actually.  For four years I've kept some geraniums alive.  Some ferns and ficus trees have also survived, probably despite my efforts.  Four basil plants have committed suicide in the last two years.  And all but one of our succulents have either died or shriveled up.  I didn't know that cactuses were killable, but they are!

We have a chili pepper plant, given to us by our realtor when we'd closed on the condo purchase.  She, the plant, fruited a ton of long red spicy peppers last year.  She, the plant, has since gone quite quiet.  The old leaves were shed.  New ones started growing in three months ago, then abruptly stopped.  Three tiny peppers sprouted, then stopped.  Then nothing.

I'm going to bring Pepper back to life.

Here's the before, note the three little peppers.

Here she is in her pieces.

From right to left: Her original pot, then a hefty ceramic pot that I had to put her in because the wind would blow her ass around, and a vestigial dish.

First, I replanted her into that ceramic pot.  But, the ceramic pot has no holes so it cannot drain.  That can result in drowning or rotting out the plant.  So before I did any replanting, I made like John Holmes and drilled three holes its bottom.

I am already sorry for that metaphor.

Next, I repotted it with some new soil.  Finally, I watered it with some nice thick fertilizer "tea".  More on that tea in a moment.  The after shot:

I would like to think that Pepper's branches are raised up in victory.

Last month I planted chives, cilantro, thyme, oregano, and basil.  Yesterday, I planted parsley.  I do a lot of cooking around here and I'm thrifty, so I would get stompin' mad every time we'd pay 2 or 3 bucks for a clump of 'fresh' herbs at the store.  A freaking plant of the same herbs costs $3.

Sorry for the weird pic. I was testing out the "panorama" shot.

And yes the basil looks sad.  It's new too.  The oregano must have told it about the fate of the previous two basil plants in that pot.  Abandon all hope ye basil.

What I'm really geeked about are these:

Up top, we've got zucchini on the left and cherry tomatoes on the right.  On the bottom, heirloom tomatoes.

Tip:  The terra cotta (stone/clay-like) pots may look better and cost more, but they're breathable.  Which means that if they get a lot of sun, then they let in a lot of heat.  Soil and roots like heat as much as I like Nicki Minaj's rapping.  Which means, they hate heat.  It will result in an unhappy plant.  Plastic pots are cheaper, but potentially better because they're not cooking the roots.

And yup, most of our plants are in terra cotta pots.  (Just found out about the above tip yesterday.)  The herbs have been more than fine.  But the veggies...well, I'll see what happens.  The big heirloom plant is in a plastic pot.  I will report back with results.

Oh, and the fertilizer tea?

Looks like a cross between Lipton and sewage.  Smells like it too.

I'm using a dry organic fertilizer with a nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (NPK) balance for veggies and fruits.  I mixed the dry stuff in with the soil of our veggies and fruits as per the directions.

For the herbs --> I soaked one cup of fertilizer per one gallon of water for 36 hours (the 'tea'), then watered 'em with it.

Labor-wise, it's been a few hours playing in the mud.  Which really isn't labor until I f**k something up.  Then there's a few minutes here and there, watering and mixing up some 'tea'.

And that's it.  Every day I peek outside to make sure they're all still alive.  Every other day, I'll be watering them.  If anybody fruits up, I'm taking pictures.

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