I bought a salad last night. It’ll be ready to eat June 23.

A coworker of mine, you see, gave me a gardening kit when I moved into my first house, in Dayton. It was a wonderful thing–a nice sturdy tote, two trowels and a fork, mat to kneel on, gloves and fertilizer–and I’m still using it and loving it. She’s pregnant, and mentioned in an e-mail that she had planned on doing some gardening this year but was finding it hard to bend down. She also mentioned she was having a baby shower June 23 and would love it if I could come down. (She also requested a “Jenny original” baby quilt, since I’ve been showing off my work to her for years. I’ve been trying to design a garden-themed quilt but haven’t been having much luck–but I need to apply myself to that design, as the wedding is probably shortly going to consume my every spare moment.) So I decided that a small garden that could be placed at waist level might be a thoughtful gift.

To start with, I ordered the Micro-Tom tomato plant. Unfortunately it’s listed (elsewhere) as being 85 days from seed to harvest, so technically the salad won’t be ready June 23. I’m probably going to aim for June 30, knowing that the tomatoes might take a little longer but the rest of the vegetables can be harvested early–or not, as she wishes. I bought radish seeds and miniature carrots, and I originally planned to use the spinach and lettuce seeds I already have, but I forgot they’re enormous, so I’ll have to go back for smaller varieties.

The plan is to get a list of all the seed-to-harvest times and calculate when each vegetable needs planting, including when a couple of extra seeds for succession planting would be best. I bought a nice wide azalea pot that should fit the Micro-Tom, a head or two of lettuce, a spinach plant, several carrots and radishes, and an onion from my set. (The ones in the ground have sprouted! They’re in danger of being overtaken by creeping weeds from the neighbor’s yard, though. I need to get out there soon.) If there’s room I’ll throw in a basil or a parsley plant, too, assuming I do okay growing them. I need to figure out how much I can crowd these plants. I’ll nurture the Micro-Tom in a small pot to start with, since I don’t have room on my windowsills for such a huge pot (nor a small one, really, but I’ll find space somehow), but the rest of the vegetables will go straight into their final home. One nice thing is that everything except the tomato won’t mind the cold, so I could even set it outdoors for its sunlight. I don’t know if that would be inviting weeds or insects or disease, though. And I’ll include the seed packets with the gift–assuming all goes well and I can actually grow this. If I can, it may well be the best gift I’ve ever made.

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