Tuesday, October 6, 2015
balcony garden update
It's harvest time in New England, but while my CSA has kept my refrigerator stocked for months, my balcony garden has not been so...prolific. There are a couple things I can blame this on:
1) The weather
1a) The summer was really hot and dry and therefore not good for growing much of anything
1b) The summer was really wet and rainy and therefore not good for growing much of anything
1c) I did not pay attention to the weather at all this summer, nor would I know what makes for a good weather-growing-pattern
2) I planted things that were not right for a balcony garden
2a) and/or I did not plant them correctly
2b) and/or I did not tend to them correctly
3) My plants were doing just fine until I went on a few extended vacations in August and September and left them under the care of two different plant waterers who completely screwed up what was once a good thing.
4) I never once read even so much as the back of a seed packet to see how much light and how much water each plant should receive, and thus administered equal amounts of light and water to all six of my plants.
5) Any of the reasons listed in this actual poem entitled, "Why Did My Plant Die?" by Geoffrey B. Charlesworth.
So how did each plant do? Let's recap.
What fared well:
Rosemary - by and large, this was the heartiest of my herbs. Two solid stalks (trees?) of beautiful green leaves. I routinely pulled a few leaves off to use in my cooking, and anything I made with this rosemary tasted great. I'm going to have a ton left by the time the first frost happens, so I need to make some serious plans quickly about how to store it all. This one was the clear winner of the summer.
Mint - I thought I'd killed this plant a half a dozen times. The leaves would turn brown and crinkly and I'd think it was time to put it out of it's misery when the very next morning I'd see a pot full of bright green mint. As of this post, it's back to it's flourishing state - so unless I get cracking on that mint ice cream I never wanted to make in the first place, this one may outlive us all.
What didn't work:
Oregano - I really thought I had a winner with this guy. For a little while there, I was worried that I'd have too much oregano. But then I went to Chicago for a few days and came back to a pot full of dead leaves. I still left the plant as is though, because it turns out that dead leaves make for easy crumbling of herbs into things like pasta sauces and other savory dishes. So maybe not all is lost? There's also a new leaf I found peeping out of all the dead ones, so maybe there's hope for this one still???
Basil - I think this was doomed from the start. It started flowering almost as soon as I repotted it, and it wasn't until just a few weeks ago that I realized I needed to remove the entire flowering stem, not just the flower itself. So I have a lot of dead basil stalks and only a few teeny tiny leaves that have been delightful on pizzas and in sauces, but not nearly enough to make any of the pesto recipes I so dutifully saved to my Pinterest board all winter long. Sigh.
Dill - Oy. My dill plant went to flower faster than Bring It On: In It To Win It went to DVD. I spent the summer watering a pot full of dead dill flowers. Once, I crumbled up some of the flower tops and sprinkled it into that night's dinner, but I'm sure that was somewhere between possibly unhealthy and downright poisonous, so I'm probably not going to do that again. Oops.
Lavender - This poor thing. The one plant I DID want to flower, did not, save for one pathetic little plume that ultimately blew away in a hefty gust of wind. And now it's just sad looking. Sorry, Monet, no fields of lavender for you this year.
I really should have done some research. Like, I think that even a three minute Google search on the care of some of these plants would have saved me a lot of strife and yielded much better results. For some reason I assumed that because I had decent success last summer, I'd have the same, if not better results this year. Unfortunately though, I was completely wrong. Granted, I did buy these herbs fully formed from the greenmarket whereas last summer I started my plants from seeds, but I can't in all good consciousness lay all the blame on my beloved market. So I'm pretty sure that my biggest mistakes were some combination of over/under watering and/or incorrect light exposure, mistakes that probably could have been easily avoided. That being said, I really enjoyed tending to my little garden and relished in the fresh herby goodness of my plants every time I was able to incorporate one of them into my cooking. I'm already thinking of what I'll do differently next year (spoiler alert: I'll start by reading a gardening guide), but in the meantime, I'll be over here seasoning my drinks with rosemary and mint.