Living Lagom – Nature -vs- Nurture (part 1)

I’ll be honest: I’m not much of a nurturer.

I’m fantastic at supporting, and I’m a bloody whiz at motivating, and I am a veritable shrew when it comes to…shall we say “constructively criticising”?

But nurturing isn’t one of my gifts. I’m just not patient enough, or – frankly – interested enough to want to nurture. And I know this, not because anyone has ever been crass enough to point it out, but because I’ve watched both my brothers (born nurturers) deal with people.

Here are two examples: BabyBro and I were at Bestie*’s house for dinner, and whilst she was cooking, Commander Sassypants was playing a new game with us. Cmdr Sassypants (aged 5 or 6 at the time) had chosen a game that was supposed to help you learn to tell the time. Three minutes in, when I’d explained half past, o’clock and what a sodding minute was – TWICE, BabyBro stepped in and started explaining to Cmdr Sassypants how these things worked. Meanwhile, I’d already yeeted my board out of the window and gone to throw the ball for the dog. BabyBro genuinely didn’t mind explaining the same thing twelve times until she understood it. I really did.

A different example: YoungerBro and I heard about a family friend who was in hospital with an as-yet-undiagnosed illness. My response to this hospital-bound friend’s news was “ooh, I wonder what’s wrong? Do you think they’ll have to cut her open to have a look?”. YoungerBro’s response was to enquire how she was feeling and if anyone was taking care of her, and to offer to do so if needed.

So when I say I’m not a nurturer, I really mean it.

It turns out though that perhaps I’m just not a nurturer of humans. Because, Gentle Readers, I have managed to grow some plants from seeds.

Look at these beauties!

This was after three days in a dark, warm space and the BLOODY MARVELS have sprouted! I’ve never been so proud. They’re doing so well!

I will have to plant out one or two already, since they are brushing the top of the propagator and clamouring desperately for daylight! They’re staying in an indoor greenhouse though for now, because Winter Is Coming, and they must have the best chance of survival.

I intended to start a hydroponics garden as part of my Lagom journey, because I’d seen that IKEA were offering a small starter system. But the system isn’t for sale anymore, and honestly, as I began to source parts for a ‘home-made’ system, I did have my doubts about the wisdom of such an idea.

Firstly, the separate parts can be quite pricey – unless you’re prepared to buy the right cutting tools to cut holes in the lid of an appropriate opaque plastic box, a small pre-cut tank can be £25 or more. For something that can fit on a windowsill and only grows two to six plants, that’s quite pricey. Especially as, in hydroponics, you usually have to have two sets of plants on rotation, with one coming up to readiness as you work your way through the first batch.

Then there was the air pumps, the tubing, the airstones, the fertilisers (including a pH balancer), a pH monitor…I looked for home starter systems, all of which seemed to offer starter kits of basil, chilli and tomato plants and cost the best part of £150 on a good day.

I am prepared, Gentle Readers, to splash some cash for my Lagom goals (cf. Revamp the Lamp), but even I – the fiscally irresponsible Loops – baulked at £125 for a small 30cm x 45cm system where I didn’t get to necessarily choose my starter plants.

I’ve opted for soil planting and a grow lamp (as referenced in my other Lagom posts) and a list of plants that is ambitious, even by my standards:

  • Spinach
  • Chard (rainbow chard)
  • Gherkin plants
  • Tomato plants
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Dill
  • Rosemary
  • Chives

My second reason for opting for ordinary soil over hydroponics was because of the work involved. Every article I read about home hydroponics warned against it unless you were a committed gardener, and I’m afraid the only one of those I could reasonably be accused of is worthy of committal. Daily testing of pH levels, of nutrient levels, of checking for algae growth…it was a lot of work.

I’m keen on this grow-your-own idea, Gentle Readers, and I want to make this work. But I am also aware that I work full-time and I have fibromyalgia, which can flare up and make it hard to move between bed and sofa, let alone tend to five buckets of carefully pH tested, monitored and nutrified water to keep my plants alive. At least if I am using a soil system, if the worst comes to the worst and a flare lasts a week, then someone (BabyBro) can chuck a can of water on them and they’ll (probably) stay alive until I can get back to them.

It also means I can go away for a weekend, and not come home to find my plants have sulked into a wilt at my neglect. I need ROBUST plants, that can raise themselves, because, as I established at the beginning, I am not a nurturer.

I’ll keep you posted…

*Bestie is my best friend, and the mother of Commander Sassypants.

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