Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Balcony Garden 2011: new and improved!

Because we just can't help ourselves, Andrew and I have expanded our growing plans for our balcony garden yet again. I'm not so sure this was the smartest decision ever since our success so far has been relatively limited. We harvested about ten tiny potatoes, a dozen twisted carrots, a couple of small (but crisp) peppers and one zucchini last summer. Grant you, as I've discussed before, last year's weather made it difficult for even proper farmers to cultivate their crops, and we did produce edible vegetables so I guess that's enough of an incentive to plunge ahead with our plans for this year. So, if you're willing to indulge me, come along for a 'tour' of our garden.

View of the balcony, stage left. We have two hangers, the red for strawberries, the green for whimpy tomatoes. We tried to start the strawberries ourselves, and we're still trying, but they're tiny and if they'll ever be ready for outdoor life it won't be until next year. We bought starter plants from Canadian Tire instead. Ditto almost exactly for the tomatoes. Below the hangers, attached to the railings, are our peppers. Yet again, ditto. We tried to get plants started on our own, but they dried out and died when we were away in Florida. Further below on the ground are: a clump of fiddleheads, potatoes (purple), carrots (also purple), rhubarb and an assortment of grasses. More on these later.

Balcony view stage right. Same hangers, but underneath we've got garlic (growing like crazy) and onions. We had some very dry starter onions in our closet, which we threw in the green planter for the heck of it. After two weeks (or more, I've forgotten) we hadn't seen anything break the surface, so we tore them up and replaced them with fresh seeds we grabbed at the market. Below, in the blue bin are more carrots (these ones are regular orange) and the circular planters you can see just at the bottom hold pumpkin and zucchini (one set in each centre container) and lettuce around the rims. The buckets off to the side are the home of various beans.

Our lettuce. We only put it in last week, but it's already doing quite well.

The rhubarb has come through two winters of being left out on the balcony (unlike Andrew's poor grape vine, which didn't make it). I can't wait for it to thicken up so I can make some jam, or a pie, or something. I imagine there will probably only be enough for one project.

Those tiny green sprouts are our purple carrots. Pretty much all of the seeds I planted are now poking out of the dirt in both tubs. There should be enough room in these containers for the carrots to grow properly this year.

Fiddleheads! I was excited to see these at the market this weekend, and they were four bucks for a bundle. We don't really know how to grow it, but we'll figure it out somehow. One of the booths had asparagus, but it's supposed to take a couple of years for asparagus to reach a harvest-ready point, so there wasn't much point in bringing any home when we don't expect to be in Edmonton for more than two years.

We've already added on a couple of inches of dirt to our potato box and they just keep growing. I'm crossing my fingers that when we dig them up in September, we'll be rewarded with enough potatoes for two meals...maybe? I'd just like to find potatoes bigger than ping-pong balls? I really, truly, thought we were going to have a blue-box full of potatoes last year, I just don't want to be as disappointed with our harvest this year.

The garlic--I kind of wish I'd planted more. I suppose we could if our other crops fail, we'll see how things go.

And that's our garden. I'll report on how it's doing later on in the summer--and try to take some better pictures next time. I was in a bit of a hurry on Monday, plus it was gray and gross outside.



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