After Hours: In the Garden

By Rocky Roark

Spring has sprung in Savannah and, with it, the beginning of my gardening season.

I am by no means Farmer Rocky; after taking a year off of having a backyard garden, I am throwing my hat into the ring once again.

With this year’s push to continue down my healthy road (both mentally and physically) I decided that this would be a great hobby to pick up. Next month, I will speak more to my weight loss efforts in a post dedicated to that story. For now, suffice it to say that I have made alot of healthy changes in my life and gardening is definitely something that falls into that category. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have even thought I would be growing my own vegetables, let alone actually be eating them! Talk about a big change from a former fast food junkie to a health conscious urban gardener.

Since I was a kid, I always loved “attempting” to grow plants. I was intrigued by the realization that I was actually growing a living thing. Unfortunately, at that age, most of my plants ended up shriveled and brown. This changed about two years ago when I finally grew a small, thriving garden. One of my crowning achievements during that spring/summer season was growing a producing Green Bell Pepper plant from a single seed.

This year I saved up for my spring garden by putting money into a mason jar over time. A couple of weeks ago, I decided to go ahead and build up my garden and get the growing season going. I ended up spending most of the money I was saving for this purpose and instantly had a nice little start.

My initial garden includes: 1 Husky Tomato, 2 Cherry Tomatoes, 1 Red Bell Pepper (Close to Maturity), 3 Red Bell Peppers (not fully matured), 2 Jalapeños, 12 Arugulas, 3 Rosemarys, 2 Dills, and 2 Blueberry Bushes. Now, some people may think this a small garden, but I say it’s a start. I hope by the end of at least spring, my whole back patio and beyond is covered with plants.

Last weekend, I started Phase 2 of my 2014 gardening: growing from seeds. The first seedlings that I planted this year are for Renegade Spinach, something that I will hopefully be replanting every couple of weeks, in order to keep my supply up and hopefully keep Focus Lab stocked with fresh homegrown spinach. This week, I will be ordering a variety of seeds; primarily they will be different varieties of Pepper plants. It’s something that I was recently turned on to by someone on Instagram, cross breeding pepper plants and creating something completely new that possibly no one has ever seen before. So there will be some real experimenting going on with that this year.

The varieties I will be growing and possibly experimenting with include: Black Hungarian (sounds like a dragon from Harry Potter), Chinese 5 Color Peppers, Filius Blue, and—the worst of all of them—the Trinidad Scorpion Pepper (1,463,700 Scoville heat units). Could possibly use some of the peppers for a Focus Lab challenge, but the primary purpose for growing these peppers are experimenting. Plus, they are simply beautiful plants.

I will try to keep everyone up—to—date on how the garden is coming together throughout the growing season and hopefully everyone can see the success of this year’s garden! If you would like to follow along the progression of my garden, you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram. I will be posting plenty of pictures of how everything is growing and going.