cleverchickadee


Apartment Garden, Episode 4: Watering by quornflour

So far my garden experiment this year is going fairly well. We have had some really nice weather matched with serious downpours. My kind of summer!

That said: I have a neighbor who LOVES watering. I have even see her water after a rainstorm. Because the drainage in my bucket garden is different than it would be in the ground, my plants seem to be getting a little overwatered. There is no stopping her and I suppose it is better than everything just drying out. Regardless we have fruit!

I have a few tomatoes that have started, they are super tiny, but it is a start. My pepper plants are flowering so I am hoping for a few peppers. The cucumber plant has flowered again. The first never fruited, but the plan seems stronger now. I am not sure if there is another cucumber plant, but that might be necessary. I cannot remember if they can self-pollinate.

The herbs are doing well. Well except for the cilantro. Again, everything seems really wet. I have been moving buckets around the yard to try and dry things out. I am hoping nothing gets watered by a hose and asked Lil’ to avoid watering anything since it will just get watered again.

I have some ideas for improving the layout next summer and additional hopes that the tree that is blocking my sun will fall down in a storm (crashing though only a few fences, since there really is no place for it to go that is not a roof). I am going to see if I can score some pallets and maybe build a planter box on casters so that I can move things into the driveway for more sun on the hot days.

At any rate, so far this is way more successful than last year, even though it will by no means be a “bumper crop” of anything except perhaps basil. Good think I love basil.



Apartment Garden, Episode 3: Planting by quornflour

Last summer I attempted a little balcony garden planting seeds and swapping seedlings.

I was successful in the indoor sprouting phase and even getting them up to plantable size, but then I was gone and the weather was crap and the place I wanted to grow them was not really the best spot.

Overall however: I failed.

This year I am trying it again and have done things a little differently:

First, I rounded up some neighborly help from another resident in my building, my friend and neighbor Melissa. This way there will (hopefully) be at least one person around to tend to the plants.

Second, I did not plant seeds, and rather picked things up here and there, friends with seedlings, Melissa had a few she planted and got from friends, and I picked up a few at farmers markets.

Third, I found a new spot to plant everything. I asked, (ok more like announced) my land lady if I could use part of the back yard to plant. Not only did she agree, though she is a greater fan of roses and flowers than veggies, but she also offered up two plastic pools that were otherwise going to be trashed and a number of old puts that she had. I also managed to get some pots from my neighbor.

So after all of this was sorted out, I headed to the nursery and bought dirt. I had a fair amount of dirt from last year so I mixed my new dirt with my old dirt. My neighbors all commented on the smell. I had picked up organic soil, which had a much richer smell than the soil they had used.

Next I sorted out buckets, some needed drainage, so I used a screw driver and a mallet to puncture a few holes in the bottoms, the holey buckets would then be placed in the pools so that the excess water is not wasted and on hot days can be watered from the bottom without risk of burning the leaves if things get too dry. I will need to keep an eye on this with rain to ensure I do not end up with a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Of course after I got everything in it has decided to rain for the week. It is good though, I need to add drainage to one of the smaller individual pots and it buys a little time to get marigolds to help with pest control. In the few days that they have been in their pots, they all seem happier.

I am optimistic.



Apartment Garden, Episode 2: Seedling Swap by quornflour

It is great and even easy to start your own plants, the trouble is, when you buy seeds to get SO many, and sometimes they all sprout up. Then what?

Either you end up with loads of extra seeds or a garden full of one type of plant, right?

There is another option: The Seedling Swap.

It is sort of like a Christmas Cookie swap, where you bake a bunch of cookies then go to someone’s house and trade out, but you can do the same thing with seedlings.

It just so happened that my friend Scott also planted seedlings this year, and it also just so happened that he planted the stuff I wanted and had not planted, and it just so happened he too had extra!

The other great thing is if you start your seedlings in egg cartons, they are almost already to go, just take some paper scissors: if you do not know what I am talking about here then you probably are not a sewer with separate paper and fabric scissors so do not worry about it.

Take your seedlings and cut the cartons up to make a nice mix of plants in a tray, and ta-dah! you have a nice tray to trade.



Apartment Garden, Episode 1: Seedling Starters by quornflour

It might be a tad late to be starting these, but it has been such a cold winter, and I was going out of town with no one to water them daily that I am just getting around to them now. I am sure it will be fine. Around Easter is great because you may have more egg cartons sitting around than you typically would.

It is a super easy little project that uses mostly recycled stuff that you may already have around the house.

Here is what you need:

  • Cardboard Egg Cartons
  • Lipped Cookie Tray
  • Potting Soil
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Seeds
  • Scissors
  • Sharpie

Start by cutting the cartons in half; leave the tab on the egg cup side on. Place the cup site in the top and place them in your lipped tray. I used aluminum ¼ cake trays.

Now, before you say anything, note that I actually fished these out of my neighbors recycling, so it is kind of the same as already having them, I am just giving them a second life. I would have used baking trays, but I only have one and it does not have lips so it would have just made a mess.

Use the Sharpie and write on the tabs that you did not cut off to label the type of seeds you are planting.

Next, fill the cups with dirt, do not press it down but make sure all of the cups are well filled; you do not have to be neat about it. However, if you have a tendency to spill dirt, like I do, I recommend doing this par outside: saves on clean-up too.

Once the cups are filled sprinkle the tops with the cayenne pepper.

Yes, really. This will keep bugs away.

Make a little finger hole in the dirt in the center of each cup and put seeds in. I always put more than one seed in each hole in case one does not sprout. This might not be necessary.

Cover the seeds with the dirt filling in the holes and press it down so it is packed.

Then water the cups, this might take a few passes as you want to get the cardboard wet and let it soak up water to make sure that the cups do not dry out. You will want to water these 1 – 2 times a day and keep them in a warm place that does not have a risk of frost, like in your house. I like to put them near a window and a heater, so when they start to sprout they get sunlight.

Happy Sprouting!




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