I’ve always been sure that I had a black thumb when it comes to gardening. I’ve never bothered to really try to garden for a number of reasons – cost, apartment living and the constant maintenance. I’ve tried a few house plants in the past, such as jade plants, but I’ve always managed to kill them. Yes, I’ve killed jade plants. They are some of the easiest plants to maintain. Give them some sun and little water and you should be good to go! But no, not me. I’ve killed not one, but two jade plants. And in recent years, having plants inside is just not an option because my cat Vega, will eat any plant that she sets her eyes on. She smells them if they enter the house and follows me around until she can pounce on the plant. It’s almost unreal how quickly she knows that plants are in her vicinity.
I love having fresh produce at my disposal but the closet grocery store is about a 30 minute walk away and the closet market takes about 45 minutes by bus, so my options are limited. And I hate the fact that when I do buy produce, half of it ends up in the trash because we just can’t use it in time before it starts to rot. We’ll buy a bunch of green onions for a recipe, use two stalks and the rest wilts by the time we need it again. Also, let’s talk about the constant skyrocketing price of produce in Canada. There have been times recently where a head of cauliflower costs nearly $8! Tomatoes are $4/lb and a cucumber sets you back $3 each. I want to eat healthy but it’s really hard when making a simple stir fry ends up costing over $30 to make!
And then there is the fact that I live in an apartment in a city. I own no land, I have no backyard space to grow anything substantial….or so I thought. But I do have an outdoor space – I have a rather large balcony that not only has the space for two large outdoor chairs, a corner table and a barbecue but still has about a 6′ x 4′ space leftover, that happens to get a lot of direct sunlight from sunrise to about 5-6pm in the evening. I decided this was going to be the summer that I decided to try my hand at gardening. I would start small and see how well things went.
I decided to start simple. I bought a few things to plant from seed – leaf lettuce, spring onions, beans and bought a few herb seedlings – rosemary, dill, two kinds of basil and catgrass and catnip for my kitties, from a local store. I bought most of the pots and planters from the Dollar Store as they were only a couple bucks a piece but I did invest in some higher quality soil specifically made for urban vegetable gardens that would be planted in pots and planter boxes. I figured that would be enough to get me started on my summer of gardening.
Sadly, as Halifax had a very late start to spring, which resulted in frosty night through June, the basil did not make it more than a week or two once they were transplanted. I really thought the dill wasn’t going to make it either. It couldn’t stand up straight and just flopped over inside the planter for the first week it was planted.
Soon the seeds I sowed started to pop. I got excited every time something new emerged from the ground. The lettuce popped up first, followed by the spring onions. Some took a few days, some took weeks, and the beans, which I thought died, took nearly a month but once they popped through the soil, they sprung up fast!
Once things actually began to grow, I got hooked. I bought more seeds and seedlings and got to work. I bought a wee cucumber plant and some green pepper plants and some more seeds – carrots, two more kinds of lettuce, pak choi, radishes, beets, potatoes and onions.
The dill which I thought was going to die after the first week has flourished. It’s nearly up to my waist and makes my entire balcony smell like dill. It’s wonderful.
The dill will be used to make fridge pickles with the cucumbers that I am also growing. The cucumber plant has shot up in the last two weeks and is nearly as tall as the balcony railings. So far we see at least 10 tiny cucumbers that have formed and I’m sure more will appear as the summer continues.
Tiny cucumbers are adorable. I absolutely love fresh cucumber so I’m really excited to harvest these once they are ready.
It’s needless to say that I am absolutely hooked with gardening. I already have plans for next year and intend to buy a small indoor greenhouse so I can start seedlings before the frost is over. Every day when I arrive home from work, I say hi to all the cats and then I run to the balcony to check on my plant babies.