Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Urban Balcony Garden

I don't know what you call the opposite of a green thumb, but I kill plants. I've tried indoor plants several times but they never make it. I understand the concept of over-watering and under-watering, so I'm not sure what my problem is.

Fortunately, I have better luck with plants outdoors. I love to garden and last summer I helped my dad prepare and plant his garden in Washington state. I moved to the east coast before reaping any harvest, but I was amazed at the bounty he and my mom collected over the summer.

Currently I live in a high-rise condominium, but I've been wanting to play in soil and garden. I have not identified any community gardens close-by (although there are several scattered throughout the city) so I was beginning to think I would have to swallow my desire to garden. Then, earlier this year I read this post on Crazy Sexy Life and I knew as I read that I would have to give balcony gardening a try. This guy just makes it sound so magical (a garden growing on a fire escape in New York City?!), while also sharing some dirty details and pointers. Check out his blog!

So, I'm doing it, too.

So far I have planted: basil, cherry tomatoes, heirloom purple tomatoes, arugula, buttercrunch lettuce and red cabbage. I germinated my basil seeds first, so we'll see how that goes. One of my main goals in balcony gardening is keeping the cost down, and using as many recycled containers as possible. Between my husband and I, we have plenty of containers and I'm hopeful that I will not need to purchase any. My costs have been $7 for a bag of soil, and around $2.00 for each packet of seeds. Yesterday I planted. I'm keeping everything inside until I have hearty sprouts, then I'll arrange everything on my sun-kissed balcony.

I feel like a little kid, eagerly awaiting any sign of the first sprout. The only thing I'm missing is Stevia. I want to grow my own plant, dry the leaves, and use them in their whole form for sweetening my tea. I'm also anticipating satisfying my summer sweet tooth with sun-ripened cherry tomatoes. There's nothing more delicious than a warm, ripe, juicy tomato. Goodbye winter. Let there be a warm spring and pleasant summer!

In a few weeks, I will be transferring my starts outside to my balcony.


Julia said...

What a perfectly-timed post! I actually have a huge lot but for various reasons have not been able to garden yet. I want this to be the year I start and decided I'd like to do some container gardening to get going (so I'm not completely overwhelmed).

I also just started a trial sugar-free run five days ago and your blog is such a help!

Good luck with your little garden! Oh and BTW I'm a Portland native. ; )


will said...

You can do it! My downstairs neighbor in Tokyo had the most beautiful container garden on her balcony. We a few plants we left with her when we returned to the states. Good job being thrifty and green.

My Year Without said...

Julia-How is the sugar-free thing going? I'd love to know how you feel.

The container garden is going fabulous so far. I'll post pictures soon. All my seeds have sprouted except for my heirloom cherokee purple tomato so I'm germinating some other seeds to see if that helps.

I'd love to know how your garden grows, esp. if you start out in containers!

will-So far I've spent relatively little...mostly just on seeds...but I think it will all be worth it when I can make a salad straight from my garden! Especially considering how expensive organic salad greens are these days!

Julia said...

Sugar-free has been great. One of the surprises was I realized how much mental energy I spent contemplating whether or not to have something sweet. Perhaps out to dinner when presented with the dessert list or maybe just sometime during the day when a random craving occurs. Now anytime I see or think of something sweet I just remember I'm not eating sugar right now and can calmly let it go. That has been a huge benefit I had no idea about.

I've also been eating a lot more fresh fruit since that's about all I'm allowing myself sweet-wise. That feels good in general and it tastes SO sweet, but in a good way, not like an overly sugary baked good.

I'm not sure I've noticed much more than that mental calm and a change in my palate but even those two benefits have me seeing what a positive this is. My plan is to not eat sweets except for special occasions (such as true holidays, birthdays, or when hosted at someone's house). I follow a vegan diet so I feel I have to strike a balance and not be too restrictive lest I have a harder time socializing with friends and family or just feel too restricted and experience some kind of backlash.

In general both diet choices have felt really good and I've learned when something makes you feel better you don't feel like you're missing out on the temporary pleasure of the thing you "gave up".

Again, thank you for all the info and inspiration offered on your blog. I'll be excited to follow your gardening and hope that you will inspire me to take the plunge (I too have a bad track record with indoor plants).