Thursday, February 3, 2011

Everyday ordinary: Gardening

Perhaps the first week of February seems like an odd time to talk about gardening, but once again, I have two reasons for doing this: 1) I failed to give a final wrap up of how our balcony garden from 2010 worked out; and 2) Andrew and I are now planning what we're going to plant for the upcoming season.

Last year we saw a modest harvest--we are attempting to grow vegetables on a balcony twelve floors above street level, so to expect a haul that will keep us going all winter long is unreasonable. We did see an improvement over our previous attempts, I would guess in large part due to our two vermicomposters. The nutrient rich soil the colony of worms hanging out in our storage closet produced is perfect for our vegetables and there was no need to add fertilizer. Our major challenge last year was weather. Our summer was cold and rainy. We didn't have a day over 30C all year, and we received more rain than normal in desert-like Edmonton. I don't feel too bad about our limited success considering many of the farmers at the market struggled to fill their stalls with quality produce.

Nonetheless, we manage to produce a small collection of tomatoes, most of which went into make a batch of delicious sourdough tomato hamburger buns. Green-red peppers, which were delightfully crisp and sweet and pretty much used up in one roast. We were also able to pick greens over a period of one or two months to add to our salads. Our potatoes were disappointing. I had fostered high hopes that when we dug into our blue-bin we would find a treasure trove of potatoes--the plants were tall and bushy and I'd thought for sure we'd be 'in the money,' but I think we ended up with a dozen small 'taters (thanks for digging in the dirt, Michelle!). Our zucchini plant was also disappointing. The plant started off well, but developed rot (most likely due to the damp weather) and we only managed to harvest one summer squash before it died. The carrots were small...and deformed...but we kind of knew they didn't have enough room to grow, so I don't call them a disappointment...but not a success either.

Valient the grapevine did very well this year. We hope he survives the winter.
Our one successful zucchini, gone in one meal.
Bright red tomatoes. The made delicious buns (I'm not that big a fan of tomatoes, actually).
Green peppers, which eventually turned partially red.
So, what are we going to plant this year? This year we're taking advantage of our Friends of Devonian Garden membership, which allows us to pick out up to 25 seed packages for free (we can purchase more, if we wish). Since a number of these seeds are for heirloom plants native to Edmonton or at least Alberta, I have high hopes that we might see even greater success this year. We've picked a rather eclectic bunch of plants including a dwarf pomegranate tree, native grasses, rye, beans with vibrantly coloured flowers, and another variety of beans that's supposed to taste like asparagus. We've also ordered seeds for the Alberta rose. We'll be taking a trip out to Devonian this weekend to tour their greenhouses (they're hosting a 'winter pick-me-up') when we get to pick up our seeds as well. We'll see how things go once the weather warms up.



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