college days · daily · gardening · nature · plants · ramblings

A Brief Respite from Stress, Sorta

I think I had too much coffee yesterday afternoon so the caffeine is still circulating in my system. Voila, I am insomniac and wide awake!

I’ve reached that point in the college semester where everything feels like I am trying to hold it all together but I am also so burnt out from the endless stream of assignments and tasks.

One class I have focuses on food insecurity in the residential areas surrounding my college. The final assignment for this course required students to select a group project from a list that the professor came up with. Each project idea related to ways of giving community members and residents more resources to healthy food. After a whole year of doing nothing but online projects to earn A’s, it might have been easy to just pick a group project I could do remotely. I didn’t want to play it safe, though, and was ready for something different. So I chose the only project that fit my interest, which was a hands-on gardening assignment that would last once a week for 6 weeks and all the work there would count as part of the final project.

I would love to go into a huge monologue about what I’ve been doing at the garden for the last few weeks but I think I’ll save an entire future post for that. I’ll say a little bit here as a sneak preview though, lol.

I feel incredibly lucky that I had the opportunity to do classwork in-person and outdoors in a garden space with some of my classmates (7 people). The special thing about this garden is that it is a community space so anyone can come and help out, and in the past year, many of the crops grown in the garden were shared with people in the community and with the local food pantry. Some of the things my classmates and I planted a few weeks ago: snow peas, mesclun lettuce, spinach, Chinese cabbage (bok choy, which I am no stranger to eating!), red romaine, nastarium and sweet pea (these two are flowering plants; not sure if they are edible). I forget what else but I brought a mystery radish/turnip from home that I planted in the garden. It had one mealy baby root at the time when it went into the soil.

This was 2 weeks after the radish/turnip was planted. The leaves on the head really flourished!

Gardening probably came at the right time, too, to give me more inspiration for my green thumb. I already have so many mini-orchids but I got fascinated with succulent leaf propagation after seeing a video about it on YouTube. I tried it out for myself and it’s been going well.

I recycled old eggshell containers to use as propagation trays for the succulent leaves.
Another propagation tray!

Where did I get so many succulent leaves? The answer is a little embarrassing. Technically I stole them from Home Depot and Lowe’s. I wandered around the plant sections and kept a lookout for fallen leaves from existing succulent plants that were on display. I always thought leaves that were separated from the mother plant were dead but leaf propagation has taught me otherwise. The firm, non-runny leaves were the ones I sought out. I even found a leaf on a rack that was already growing a small pup (the name for a baby succulent on a leaf).

This was the succulent leaf on April 12th.
The same leaf 11 days later! The pup got HUGE and the roots much longer.

I went through the process of repotting some fully grown succulents I bought. This happened by complete accident. It started with a jade plant and an elephant bush (two types of succulent species) that were planted together in the same pot. The jade plant kept dropping leaves throughout the weeks even though I was taking care to only water the whole pot thoroughly when all the soil was completely dried out. Out of curiosity, I unpacked the plants from the pot and slowly pried the soil out in order to examine the roots. When I got to the center, I saw the plant roots were stuck together because their roots had grown out so much in one little pot that they got entangled with each other. It was a little horrifying to imagine if I hadn’t separated them into individual pots, the roots would’ve continued growing that way and possibly killing both plants.

After that I spent the whole evening taking out potted succulents and repotting them. Good thing I had backup pots at home for the repotting, I really needed the extra pots! From unearthing the roots, I got a better visual of the actual size of the plants and realized many of them would do better in their own individual pots for their roots to spread out instead of fighting for space with other plants in the same pot. The whole thing was like plant therapy for me… the smell of the fresh soil (it is a cactus/succulent blend soil) and the feel of it caking on my fingers whenever I took a handful to layer into a pot was wonderfully fun.

Featured photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash.

All other photos included in this post were taken by me. 🙂

3 thoughts on “A Brief Respite from Stress, Sorta

  1. It really sounds like your semester in college is getting to the pointy end. Hope you get a break from the assignments and tasks, and then able to get working on them again less stressed. Your food insecurity classes sound insightful, and so did the hands-on gardening assignment.

    Sounded like you and your classmates enjoyed yourselves thoroughly planting in the community garden space. So cute to hear the radish/turnip had only one mealy baby root at first. There are some community gardens here in Melbourne but I’ve never been to any of those. But I would think these places are similar to the one you went to – where people can collectively plant and grow produce. I am not much of a gardener or a plant person and don’t have a green thumb. When I was a kid I planted a few snow peas in the backyard and they turned out really nice and sweet. I do appreciate indoor plants though – they can be tricky to care for but when done right, it is lovely to have greenery at inside.

    I think that was so clever of you to go hunting for good, fallen leaves at Home Depot and take them home for propagation. If you didn’t pick up those leaves they would probably have been swept away and who knows if they would be propagated. Sounds like you handle and pot plants very well. Hope you find more fun with plants 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can say that now the semester is over, it’s a relief all of it is done. But some of that stress is still here because I still have work to do that might carry over into the fall semester. It’s nothing serious (yet); the potential is it might be a full research project I may or may not doing more research study into during the summer if my application for the research project goes through. The stresser here is that I am still working on my research proposal that I need to submit ASAP for the application since I am past the deadline.

      Yes, planting and working in the garden space was fun!! I love being outdoors like that. The radish/turnip was later identified as a rutabaga. It grew so nicely and my teacher told me that the afterschool kids she teaches even used the plant for a drawing assignment. However, the plant for some reason got infected with little bugs all over so it ended up having to be trashed. 😦 I was sad that had to be done before the rutabaga could be potentially harvested for its seeds and/or edible leaves.

      The funny thing about gardening is it is really a learnable and teachable skill. There was so much stuff I didn’t know about growing things when I first started out in the garden. The story about your snow peas is so cute! The garden I worked in also has flourishing snow peas. For weeks, I watched the snow pea stalks grow out leaves and curly vines but it was only recently I caught sight of actual snow peas growing out. It was amazing to see the peas in their natural state because I have only ever seen snow peas from getting them at the supermarket where they have already harvested from the leaves and placed out for buyers.

      Indoor plants can be fun as well. I have some plants I keep outside my bedroom window. I purposely picked perennial plants, which are the type of plants that can survive for more than 2 years and don’t need to be replanted from seed every year like annual plants do. And they’re plants I intend to overwinter indoors so I can put them outside again next year.

      That’s so true about the fallen leaves. The succulent pot arrangements got more elaborate the last time I visited Home Depot and I was a little shocked at how many leaves were all over the place. There was crowding on the shelves where the pots were cramped together, too, so it’s no wonder just from turning the pot or picking it up, a leaf or two from one of the plants might get bumped off.

      Since my bedroom is quickly turning into a mini-nursery, I guess you could say I am indeed having more fun with plants. 😀


      1. Good on you for making it through the semester Nat! The full research project sounds like something you will be good at, and good luck for the application! I am sure you will make progress on it 😊

        It’s sad you had to trash rutabaga plany but it sounded like it was for the best. Sometimes if you let a plant with bugs be, the bugs can spread to other plants around it, which is what I have seen with indoor plants especially. You sounded like you had a good time watching your snow peas grow, and hopefully you get to harvest more soon.

        Maybe your bedroom might be a mini-jungle of plants at some point. Plants can make a room so cozy and inviting. Looking forward to hearing more about your plant and gardening journey if you are happy to share in the future 😊

        Liked by 1 person

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