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2013 Balcony Garden

The balcony garden is officially started. Not everything is planted yet, nor do we even have all of our seeds or seedlings, but we got the balcony fully de-winterized this weekend and a bunch of stuff planted. It’s only a matter of time before we are resting cool behind our food-bearing wall-o-green ™.

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First, the peas I planted a few weeks have finally started to come up. I swear they have grown three inches since Saturday. (You’ll also notice that we are using Hefty bags instead of Earthbox approved mulch covers. As much as I love my Earthboxes, I am not paying $15 a mulch cover for every planting when a garbage bag and duct tape serves the same purpose. We used this method last year as well.)

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These are summer seedlings, and will likely live inside another month before they get Earthboxed.

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Our herbs so far are basil, mint (for Athrun), and sage. Has anyone ever had luck with oregano? It has never grown enough for me to do much with. What are your favorite herbs to grow?

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Let’s Talk about Gardening

gardenmidjune2

It’s time (or perhaps a little past time) to start putting the summer garden together. The photo above shows just about the entire extent of my gardening abilities. We have three Earth Boxes two potato planters and a few pots for herbs. Last year we had a modest new potato crop, two good tomato plants, an eggplant a day, plenty of fresh herbs and one super giant zucchini.

059 Garden from 2011 with strawberries and cucumbers. (The cucumbers were awesome that year. Last year we had one and the plant shriveled and dyed because of the heat the very next day.)

I have tried and failed for the last two years to grow spinach and peas. Is that going to stop me from attempting them this year? No way! I realize though, that if I am going to grow them, I need to get a move on. I haven’t even started cleaning the balcony up from winter yet. That’s first on the agenda. Then tracking down fertilizer and dolomite for the earth boxes.

zuchinniblossomI can’t tell you how excited I am for spring and for growing things and big yellow blossoms and the promise of fresh, sun-warmed produce.

The balcony garden is not the only thing I am doing this year. During the summer, I will be tending a Sunflower garden out at my Dad’s house to grow some flowers for the wedding. Then, at my Dad’s church, they are starting a community garden project.

What are you growing? Where do you grow it? And how?

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Vegetables, etc.

Though I have had the garden planted for a few days, yesterday we finally got the balcony organized so all the plants received their optimum levels of sunlight.

All of the Earth Boxes are up front with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and cucumber. Then we have basil, rosemary, oregano, and mint spread around the balcony in pots (and a bunch of mini basils that need to be repotted asap).
When you buy an Earth Box, it comes with plastic mulching covers that fit over the box. Last year, we used these, but the holes we had to cut in them to get them over our seedlings still left room for squirrels to dig at our roots and pigeons to root around in the dirt after the squirrels had gone. This year, instead of investing in new covers, I went ahead and planted to boxes as per usual, then Brock duct taped trash bags over them. It seems to be working so far, as all of our plants have doubled in size (and it was a lot cheaper!) And yes, those are old vitamin jars over the watering tube–to help prevent evaporation.

I am overwhelmed with joy every time I check in on my potato bags.

I can’t wait for new potatoes!

Today’s garden tasks include:
Repotting tiny basil seedlings
Adding more dirt to my runaway potatoes
Harvesting some of the giant rosemary plant for drying and then repotting it to promote growth

And just for fun, a look at what I can’t grow.

All of this (except the big chopped onion, which came from the grocery store) was out of last week’s veggie bag. Carrots, peas, turnips, radishes, and green onion all went into last night’s dinner. (The turnips are really good this year!)

Some day, I will grow all of these too.

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Good Morning, Zuchini

Good morning, zucchini blossom

This is one of the plants that still needs to go into the earth box. Apparently pretty quickly, because it is getting ahead of me.

So are the potatoes!

I didn’t look in on the potatoes for a couple of days (just a couple, I am not neglectful) due to my job trying to kill me (another post I hope to write soon, I promise) and the potatoes grew! I am a new enough gardener that seeing something sprout after it’s planted in dirt and then watered it still magical. I don’t think it ever stops being magical, which is probably why gardeners are always adding more plants, taking up more of their yards, learning to can and freeze properly. They are addicted–and so am I. Now, if I can just remember to check the potatoes every day, I might be able to keep them alive.

Despite the job that’s trying to kill me, I have done some other stuff too.

I took this sweater out of Pterarnodon Worsted that was too big

to this kinky mess of yarn


And overdyed it a couple of times (I know it’s hard to tell from the photographs, but I promise, it’s much lovelier) to get a darker, richer brown that is destined to become some kind of vest I think. I have just under 1000 yards of yarn here, so I have room to play. Any suggestions?

Also, I started a new sweater.

I do love a poor photograph in the morning, don’t you?

I cast on the Surfer Tee that Stefanie Japel has been blogging about this week–mostly because I liked the neckline and I am a sucker for a kangaroo pocket. The pattern is free right now on her blog–not sure how long it will be up.

I am doing something that most people would advise you not to do ever never ever. I am knitting this sweater in the size I want to be and not the size that I currently am. Perhaps I am overly optimistic because I have lost 20 lbs recently, and am hoping that I can lose another 20-30 more before the cold comes again. I am knitting for my future self and I don’t care who knows it. I needed some sweater therapy and this is just about right. (Yarn is knit picks swish worsted in lost lake heather–which is knitting up nicely, but I have to say, I am so used to minimally processed stuff (EG, Pteranodon Worsted) that this feels kind of like American cheese when you’re used to artisan cheddar.)

What are you working on this weekend?

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Garden Update


Basil ready for transplanting.

I have been a bad gardener so far this season. Most of the seedlings Athrun and I planted failed, mostly because I couldn’t afford the soil to transplant them soon enough. I can’t take all the blame though, the weather has been so wishy washy that we have had random freezes, even with days regularly in the 90s since March. One pour squash plant was decapitated by an errant yo-yo. Things happen, and there is still time to start over.

Last night I went to the hardware store and bought a whole heap o dirt. I mean, during this time of year, I am sure it’s not uncommon for someone to buy 4 bags of 2 cubic feet of potting soil, or even more. I do think it is probably unusual for someone to ask for it to be loaded in the back seat of a Ford Escort instead of the bed of pick up truck (at least there was no kid in the car seat is all I am saying because there was no room back there for anything but dirt.)

And, I am pretty sure my neighbors thought I was crazy, hauling that much soil up into my apartment. They know how small the apartments here are. Where would you keep that much dirt? What would you do with it?


I am keeping my mounds of neatly bagged soil on the balcony–along my garden table (folded for now), a blanket for low temperature nights, a chair for convenience (you can see a leg off to the left) and these:


That my friends is what I am now christening a potato bag. It looks to be tarp sewn in a cylinder with two little velcro flaps on the side and some drainage holes in the bottom. I got two for $14.99, which looking at the materials out of the package, seems to me a little steep. However, I have never grown potatoes before, so what do I know?

Over the winter we had some organic potatoes sprout before they could be eaten. I kept them in the window all winter long and they were growing very well off their own tuber energy. Last night I planted six of them in the potato bags.


Some alien-looking potato sprouts.

I followed the instructions on the package for the planter, with a little bit of wisdom from the Vegetable Gardener’s Bible (which is due back at the library tomorrow and makes me sad.) With any luck, we’ll have our own crop of potatoes this year.

I’ll be planting the Earth Boxes this weekend with tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, and one box will be dedicated to whatever Athrun wants to plant. Probably something impractical that he won’t eat, but you never know.

I loved getting my hands in the dirt again, even if it was bagged potting soil.