Sunday, April 8, 2012

The journey goes down the garden path!

Well, I am doing something that I have not done in many years.  In one of my moments when I thought I should take on something else just for the fun of it, I decided that I should have a garden on my balcony this year.  I have the odd house plant in the flat, but have not done anything full scale in terms of gardening in over thirty years.  Wow, that is a long time, but famous for my courage, I am willing to have a go at it again.

Gardening has been something I have dreamed of for quite some time, but I never quite got around to actually planting anything or getting a few starter plants to pot up.  So, right now, my kitchen is looking like a miniature holding station for little greenhouses, lots of green pots and another huge bag of soil propped up in the corner.  There are some little geranium starter plants that have been potted up into larger pots and much to my surprise, there are actually a few blooms shooting up and should be in full colour in a day or two.

What got me going on this mission was the thought of having fresh herbs to use and if there happens to be more than I can reasonably expect to use, I will freeze them to use at a later date.  Whilst chatting with my sister and talking about pesticides on vegetables in the grocery stores and sodium in tinned veg, she suggested that I might invest in having a few tomato plants growing on the balcony.  My balcony faces west and so it is more than sunny enough to support a few pots of tomatoes, the little cherry type that I enjoy so much.  I wonder if four plants will keep me supplied with enough tomatoes to eat and maybe some extra to freeze?  I will have to let you know as the plants develop and see the actual blooms begin showing me an idea of the crop yield.

As for herbs, I have indulged and have three types of basil planted along with some chives, rosemary and some savory.  Oh, and two types of parsley.  I got a little crazy when I was picking out the seeds and decided to go for broke and indulge the inner culinary diva that I would like to become.  Looking at all the pots on my table, floor and window sill, I am thinking this is going to be a fair amount of work over the next few months.  But, what would the journey be without a challenge or two along the way?  Signs of life are already developing in the little greenhouse contraptions that I bought to start up the seeds.  It really is quite exciting!  Molly Cat is quite curious about all the green pots that she is not allowed to touch, and so far, I have been able to keep her from exploring my little family of herbage plus some.  I am so hoping that she behaves long enough for me to get the seedlings developed to the stage where I can harden them off and pot them up into their final containers.  Pictures will come along as my little green babies develop their leaves.

But, you have to know that I could not just leave my yearning for a garden rest at this point with only a few geraniums for colour.  Yes, I did indulge in a few packets of seeds of a more colourful nature.  Morning glories, godetia, nasturtiums, a black flower with a white picot edging with a name I cannot remember for the life of me, along with a few more colourful blooms w ill be keeping the herbs company on the balcony over the next few months.  Somewhat giddy with the prospect of all these plants to enjoy, I have to hope that they all survive the germination process and develop into hardy little plants that colour up the somewhat austere look of concrete and iron that makes for a little extra living space during the warmer months.

I have thought about the process to keep all these plants growing and developing.  Doing my research, I selected only plants that can tolerate lots of sunshine.  Good soil that has a fertilizer in it has been brought in large quantities back to my flat along with the required pots to hold all these plants.  I have asked a couple of friends to help me out with bringing back a few containers to go on the railing, about four should do the trick.  All I need to haul back home now is a couple of trellises for the morning glories.  Oh, I guess I will need a few stakes for the tomato plants and will put that on my list for a later shopping trip when I am out and about.  As for watering all these plants, I figure filling a bucket at the kitchen sink and taking to the balcony on my walker and then using a plastic pitcher to distribute should suffice.  Judging from the number of plants, more than one bucket of water will be needed on watering days.  This is all part of the process and no journey is without a bit of work if it is to be satisfying.

You see, whilst enjoying the colour and culinary results, this journey is as much about learning from what I am putting into action.  I have never grown herbs in my life and figure this is the time to experiment.  I have learned so much from Julie Anne Rhodes (http://julieannerhodes

This post seems to appropriate since we are celebrating Easter, Passover, or other rites of the spring season.  It is a time when the days are growing longer, we seem to have a little more energy and want to indulge the senses of sight and smell.  I love the smell of potting soil, it has an energy to it that holds promise of things to come.  I am dreaming of the colour that will hopefully envelope the balcony in the days to come.  More realistically, in the months to come.  Whilst the geraniums will be showing colour in a few days, I am thinking that the soonest I will see any other colours popping up will be in about six weeks or so.  But, during the time waiting for blooms, I can quite happily tend to the watering and pampering that this little garden will take. 

Do you have any advice for this newbie gardener?  Will three types of basil, two varieties of parsley, some rosemary and savory be enough to keep me supplied with the necessary herbs over the next few months?  Oh, I forgot, there are a couple of pots of dill planted too.  Whilst I do not anticipate making any pickles, I still love the aroma of dill and think I can work it into a few recipes if I try and do the research necessary now.  Will my morning glories and nasturtiums keep me living a colourful life on the balcony?  Surely adding the godetia and other flowering plants to the mix will entice the neighbours to try and plant a garden of their own.  Maybe this will start a trend and neighbours will be comparing notes on what type of basil supplied enough leaves for a batch or two of pesto and what type of tomato was found to be the easiest to grow and provide the most fruit.  That is part of the fun of gardening, chatting with your neighbours and getting their pointers on how to stake up the plants that require staking, how often the plants should be watered and all those little tips that seed packets do not generally provide. 

What are you growing in your garden this year?  Do you have a favourite type of basil that you grow each year?  I am hoping you will share your knowledge with me whilst I blindly navigate this path on my journey.  I think I am going to need a lot of advice and suggestions!  And, as the season progresses, I will post snaps of my busy little patch of blooms and greenery.  By next Sunday, I should be able to post snaps of my cheery red and pink geraniums, that is if Molly Cat does not take a nibble on them.  I did find a few pieces of my yellow kalanchoe on the carpet the other morning with a certain feline looking somewhat guiltily away from me.  No, the blooms did not just fall off of the plant.  I know this because the blooms were just in pieces, as if a certain little black and white kitty girl had a nibble or two.  Thank goodness, she did not suffer any tummy troubles from this little escapade!  But, just to be safe, the kalanchoe is safely out of reach for the moment and I only need worry about the vase of roses and another little vase of miniature carnations remaining intact. 

Have a wonderful week and do comment and tell everyone about your garden plans for this season! 

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

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