Confession: I've secretly always wanted an herb garden of some sort, but previous to this year, have never lived in an apartment with appropriate ledges/sunlight/floorspace/wallspace/etc. to do so. Confession: I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing when it comes to plants, herbs, vegetables, green things, things that grow in dirt, or anything else of the "plant it yourself" kind.
But this past Easter, along with the requisite egg-shaped Reese's and $20 bill tucked into a plastic easter egg, my mother sent me her version of a home-gardening kit. Seed packets, gloves, a plastic trowel, and one of those knee-pad-kneeling things, all tucked into a watering can and wrapped with a raffia bow (my mother rocks, you guys). So after some mid-April hesitation and anxiety, I threw caution to the wind, bought some pots, bought some dirt, and planted the seeds.
Then I spent the next two and a half months fretting about like a worried mother hen, constantly checking for growth, freaking out that nothing was ever going to grow, jumping for joy when the first little buds popped up through the dirt, and marveling when those little buds turned into actual plants and herbs.
But through this all, at no point did I do any actual research on what I was doing, because why take the fun out of experimentation? I mean, this is the life cycle - shouldn't it just work on it's own?
I did, however, spend one entire afternoon procuring and affixing two plastic flamingos to the balcony railing. Priorities, people, priorities.
Thankfully, the herbs pretty much did just grow on their own. I planted chives, oregano, and basil, and though the oregano has been a little slow to grow, the other two seem to be flourishing (although there might be some weeds in the oregano and basil? Let's not forget that I have no idea what I'm doing). Regardless, I'm sensing some homemade pesto and possibly some baked potatoes with chives in the near future.
There was a point in which I showed a picture of my tomatoes to a coworker, who turned out to be an ex-farmer (I love New York), and she told me that my planter was getting too crowded for all the tomato seeds I haphazardly threw in there and that I needed to replant the seedlings into larger pots. This same coworker also showed up the next day with an eggplant plant that she picked up for me at the green market, which officially makes her my favorite ex-farmer of all time. So after another few trips to the Bargain Stop for cheap dirt and plastic planters (I love New York), I put on my big-girl-gardening-pants and replanted my tomato plants. I now have three different planters of tomatoes - one is full of the original planted tomato seeds, the other two house the replanted tomatoes.
Strangely enough (or maybe not strangely at all, because again, no idea what I'm doing here), the repotted plants are doing much better than the plants that never left their original home. Everyone is getting equal amounts of sunlight (the balcony faces west and we get ample amounts) and I've been pretty consistent in when and how much water I'm giving them - about 8oz. in the morning unless the forecast calls for rain, which at that point I let God do the watering. I think (?) what I'm doing is working, because just this morning I found TWO little new developments - a little bud of something on the eggplant plant, and a little flower of something else on one of the tomatoes.
Are these the beginnings of actual vegetables? Am I secretly a gardener-savant? Should I push this urban farming thing to its' limits and add some chickens to the mix??* Stay tuned, because all these questions and more will get answered in the next installment of Mary's Balcony Garden!**
*No chickens were or will be harmed in the making of this blog post.
**I should probably find a day job. I'm working on that, I promise.