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Plantidote of the Day (2010-09-19)

Alert reader Valley Girl sends us this:

Valley Girl's Coleus and Mint

And the back story:

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Okay, confession. So, I am inveterate shoot acquirer. Out for a walk, or leaving the grocery store and walking past the plant display, I often can't help myself if I see something I want to "try out". I casually brush the plant, and find some shoot hidden and really not contributing to the public image of the plant, and pinch it. Up until this year, I've had little success in nurturing these. I would put them in water, and wait for roots to grow. Usually the stems rotted. This year is different, although I admit some pretty easy plants were involved- mint and coleus.

What made the difference this year is that I put them directly into soil. The "soil" is in a plastic garden thingy, that's out on my patio. Essentially it's a plastic box, about 2 feet by 2 feet, sitting on plastic 4 legs 3 feet high. I saw this marvel at my local hardware store, on sale, and I couldn't resist. I'm pretty sure that on that trip, I had gone to the hardware store to find a replacement part for a toilet. Anyway...

I brought this marvel home, and put it out by the front door of my condo. I planted it with basil, tarragon, parsley and cilantro. The plants were doing okay, because I would remember to water them. And, I got to going out on my front steps, and communing with my herbs. It was so soothing. And, then, I got a knock on the door from a "serious person" from the Condo association, telling me that my raised herb garden in the front violated the rules. Okay, fine. I don't mess with the cops, but I was taken aback.

So, anyway, I moved it to the patio out back, and stuck a hose in the soil, and turned on the water to drip level, knowing that unless I did that, likely I would forget to water the herb garden. Better sun in the back, anyway. So, the basil plant at least was doing great.... and, for whatever reason, I stuck a coleus shoot and a mint shoot into the soil. That was about 2 months ago. And, well.... the coleus and the mint pretty much took over the lower part of the plastic planter box. I was stunned by my "success", if you can call it that. I had read that mint takes over, where ever, but I just "get it" until I had the direct experience. Actually, the basil is fine, but the parsley, tarragon and cilantro have been eclipsed.

I like this, because Valley Girl shows how rewarding it is to weave plants into one's life, and how to do it. (For example, I'm saving milk jugs for winter sowing now, so I'm really going to have a good planting in the dark days of February.)

Too bad about the Philistines in the Condo Association, though. Can you imagine? Petroleum-based and poisonous "lawn care" is just fine, but try to create an edible landscape with useful and beautiful herbs, and people get all bent out of shape. Anybody else have conflicts like that?

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CONTRIBUTORS SOUGHT It seems that Plantidote of the Day has almost taken off. We're getting great pictures and great stories, and now there's even a little backlog (including one image that I can't bring myself to print without a suitable occasion; you know who you are, and you have not been forgotten). I'm wondering if a group of readers would like to get together, take this idea over and run with it? And improve it? Like the Westerners, including Coyote Creek, did with their Meetup? Or gamers Aeryl, BDBlue, and DanPS did with "Corrente Review of Games"?

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Readers, please post or mail me images and stories for "Plantidote of the Day", which I would like to make a continuing, daily series. You will, of course, win undying fame in the form of a hat tip!

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kerril's picture
Submitted by kerril on

After five years in this house I'm finally getting some traction with the beds and the many (when I think of them now, crazy) experiments have brought me to a place where bounty finally expresses itself. No more fighting with chicken wire(dammit!) moldy straw and moles. I have learned the limits of this site.
Anywhoo, it's been such a pleasure looking at the plantidotes. They make the day much more inspiring.

twig's picture
Submitted by twig on

Plantidotes are such a welcome relief from all the other craziness. And there are some pretty interesting plants here in Zone 10.