04/30/2013 04:07 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

The Instagrammed Garden, Part 4: Father, The Sleeper Has Awakened

Carol hartsell


Having a garden, even an urban one in containers, gives you a front row seat for a little thing I like to call "the horrifying persistence of nature."

Think the roaches are going to outlive us? Sorry. Let me introduce you to my friends "mint" and "chives." They'd grow right through your stinking rotting corpse without a care in the world.


The last thing you'll see before you die, probably.


This pot was piled underneath a bunch of other pots during our move. When I pulled it out the chives were already long and succulent... and ready to kill anything that tries to stop them.

As many a greeting card tailored to people who were Wiccan for two weeks in college will tell you, Spring is all about awakenings. In our garden, mint and chives are always the first two things to wake up, and they do it no matter where they are or how much light they're getting.

Around the same time, our dwarf fruit trees -- two apples (you need two since they cross-pollinate), a peach, sour cherry, and plum -- as well as our two grape vines start to develop knobs all over the branches. They start out woody, swell and turn green or pink, and eventually burst open with leaves and flowers.


Dwarf Liberty apple tree in bloom.


There's a tiny spider inside this apple blossom.

You know what that means: spider apples!

We also have four blueberries bushes and some raspberry brambles that decide to roll out of bed at the same time.


Blueberry flowers look like little bells... silent, broken little bells.

The trees usually come alive in April and we don't start planting our vegetables out until May (although next year, I'll probably do some early spring plantings of lettuces, peas and broccoli), so this is usually a good time to start moving things around and work on the layout of the garden. This is also called "obsessing" and "harshing our mellow" by roommates who don't get you.


I call this "Plant I Got From Home Depot & Forgot The Name Of

Flanked By Blueberries I Almost Killed But Then Didn't."

POTENTIAL DISASTER ALERT: As of this writing, our beloved Montmorency sour cherry has yet to come out of dormancy. This seems late to me as all the other trees are humming along, but as I've never kept a good record, I'm not sure. Nevertheless, I'm certain the worst has happened and somehow this tree has died on me. It fruited for the first time last year and we made one glorious pie out of the harvest... then it immediately dropped its leaves and went to sleep mid-summer. I have no idea what this means, but again, I assume death and I'm a terrible mother.


You've never walked away from anything in your life, now fight!

Now, one might think that a preponderance of fruit trees, bushes and brambles is enough for any man. But I am no man. So instead of showing even the tiniest bit of restraint, I ordered six experimental dwarf trees. I say "experimental" because we've really got no business trying to grow lemons, limes, oranges, figs, bananas and pineapples in the northeast. But, if we bring them inside during the winter and sit them near a sunny window, we just might harvest fruit from them in a few years. I'm only human.


This dwarf pineapple will supposedly fruit with real, miniature pineapples after a few years. In the meantime, it'll just look fashionably out of place, like Richard Greico at a Family Dollar.

Here's something no one else will tell you: you can get things other than STDs from Craigslist. I did a search for planters and found a small business in SoHo liquidating their entire stock. I got a bunch of these medium-sized containers for $5 each and then painted them because things should be cute dammit.


Our citrus tree planters just scream whimsy

and people with too much time on their hands.

Now that April is over, we're only a week away from our scheduled planting date. The large planter is finally done, thanks to Sean and Corey's general manliness.


I really missed an opportunity to sip on a mint julep

and fan myself while they dumped all this compost.


Corey and Kristen's dog Lulu found all this very tiring.

Once the planters were full of compost, it was time to grid them off for my square-foot gardening plan. I started with the lower bin.



Since Burpee had already delivery our shallot and garlic bulbs, and radishes, carrots and beets can take cooler weather, I went ahead and planted them.


Our dog Fenny does not understand why you would put these

in the ground when they could just go in your mouth.


You basically just shove these in the ground pointy-end up and they take it from there.


F off, vampires.


I won't pretend that the this grid of garlic doesn't fill me with joy.

YOU live in a world where it doesn't. I don't have to.

I ordered "fire and ice" radishes, which are the stubby icicle ones that are red on top and white at the bottom. I mean, you could plant boring radishes, but why?


Do these seeds make my hand look fat?

I planted the bulbs and seeds in the small bin a little less than two weeks ago, and here's what it looks like now.


Garlic is sexy.


Radishes are not sexy, but they make up for it with enthusiasm.


You know, shallots look like nightmares when they sprout.

So, that brings us to one week out from major planting time and there's a whole lot going on. Of course, we've yet to set up the composter and rain barrels... so prepare for more disaster alerts next week. Until then... here are a few more creatures enjoying the garden.


Dr. Girlfriend and Graham will find a way to turn this thing into a litter box.


We've got bumble bees!


Who needs a drink after all that? This girl right here.


The garden, circa this past weekend.

Part 1: Seeds Of Doubt
Part 2: We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
Part 3: The Dead Do Not Suffer The Living To Pass