The lovely thing about plants is that, even when you don’t have a lot of time for them, they keep growing anyway. With all that life has thrown at me recently with work and my father, I haven’t been able to do as much with my new ‘Oddball Food Forest’ (as I’ve been calling it) as I had hoped to do this spring. For certain, I’m not nearly as far along with the planned greenhouse as I’d hoped to be by this time. At this rate, I may just end up having to pull all my plants back inside my home this winter. Ah, well. If that’s how it goes, that’s how it goes. Plants are forgiving that way.

I’ll admit, I have tried to keep up with watering, especially on the hottest days. I haven’t always made it before there’s seriously visible drooping. I’ve also tried to keep up with fertilizing, since potted plants go through their nutrients fairly quickly. I haven’t made that on time always, either. Some of the plants complain about the irregular schedule more than others.

My oddball food forest in a collection of fabric pots.
My ‘Oddball Food Forest’

Funnily enough, the ones complaining the ‘loudest’ (with the most dramatic signs of malnutrition) are the ‘normal’ plants I have growing. Probably because they’re annuals that have to get all their growing in a season, so they grab at the nutrients faster. They’re a nice early warning system, though, for telling me when all of my plants are on the verge of starving and reminding me to make the time to fertilize.

The ones in the hydroponic beds are the primary alarms. I guess it’s harder to extract all the nutrients from dirt, so it takes soil-bound plants longer to run out. My hydroponic cucumber is the loudest whiner. You can see it below running up the support with all of its yellowing leaves. But I finally added nutrients this weekend, and it’s already perking back up. And, however much of a whiner it is, it’s still a trooper. I’m getting about 4 cucumbers every couple of days from this one plant. (What do I do with so many cucumbers?!? I don’t have time to pickle them. Glad I only planted the one!)

A flood-and-drain hydroponics system with a cucumber vine climbing supports
One hydroponic bed with yellow squash and a cucumber

One funny little thing happened this weekend. I did finally get around to moving some of the date trees into larger, deeper pots. Those suckers get some long roots! But as I did so, I happened to notice the ziploc bag I sprouted the seeds in. There were still a couple seeds that hadn’t sprouted the last time I looked at it, so I hadn’t thrown it away. But I also hadn’t remembered it was even there for a couple of weeks now. Maybe even a month or more. The paper towel in the bag was bone dry and I have no idea for how long.

But in the bag…was green!

To my shock, of about 7-8 seeds left, several of them had sprouted! One had a dead root — obviously a little too much neglect for that one. Two seeds were moldy, so I tossed those out. But of the others…three had good healthy roots that I stuck into some soil (two had roots that had actually grown into each other to the point I couldn’t even tell which root belonged to which. I planted those together). And one…one gloriously tough little bugger…had a good 2-3 inches of green leaf!

So, my date life is going really well! Honestly, much better than I ever thought it would. Wish me luck keeping it going.

I’m so thankful plants are so forgiving. It’s been a hectic year.

Keep hanging on, guys! Happy homesteading!

Six planter bags with the single-leafed shoots of new date trees.
A selection of the newly repotted dates – among other plants