Thursday, April 30, 2015

Getting Our Garden Started

My fiance Greg and I are in the process of buying a house. One of our musts is space for a garden. The large balcony is one of the things we initially liked about our apartment, about twice as big as most apartments we visited (when there were balconies at all). 

The first year we made good use of it, growing a number of flowers, herbs, greens, and the best potatoes I've ever eaten. We even got a few strawberries! Last year, we grew a lot more stuff with a more elaborate set-up, but ended up not finding the time to really harvest anything, sadly. The potatoes stayed frozen in their pot all winter. The internet tells me that in certain climates, this is the preferred way of growing potatoes because they are a cold weather crop (they did originate in the Andes after all). Potatoes also don't like dampness and rot easily. Sigh. There was also garlic in that pot. Greg thinks that will be ok.

I am not sure what the plan is for the garden this year as we may be moving within the next few months. (Plants hate being moved.) We have a few things going on inside, though. I picked up an egg carton seed starter kit for a few bucks comprised of 6 plants intended to attract and nourish bees. The seeds were packed for last year, but we decided to give it a try anyway. This was a month or more ago and I have to say, not a lot of progress. Only 3 of the 6 sprouted and they are still tiny sprouts after the initial enthusiastic breaking of the soil surface. 

If I had a kitchen window, I would place them there for more sunlight, but I don't, and we have to keep plants up high so the cats won't destroy them. I have a shamrock plant on the highest shelf of my desk - next to the window - with a number of obstacles set up to make it difficult for the cats to climb. It seems quite content there. I am wondering if I should make room for the bee garden. Greg might know.

At the same time we planted seeds in the egg carton, we also planted oyster mushroom spores with a kit that Greg picked up from work. Oyster mushrooms are said to be the easiest mushrooms to cultivate at home. That may be - they certainly sprung up quickly! - but they are definitely hard to keep alive. The kit warned that the mushrooms can sense danger and to keep them away from loud noises and nosy animals. We have them on the dining room table (where there is indirect light), so the center of the action and a popular forbidden the kitties like to exploit when we aren't home. 

Mushrooms also love moisture, and their little box dried out very quickly. Greg quickly abandoned the little airplane friendly spritzer the kit provided for the big one he uses to water the patio garden. Even that wasn't enough, and the first batch of mushrooms shriveled. I was very sad. One mushroom did grow to a decent enough size to be picked, so we did, then cut it up and put it in an egg scramble. There was so little of it, though, that it was virtually undetectable. 

I am hoping that once we are settled in a house and not our crappy, over-stuffed apartment we can try growing mushrooms again. The kits are pretty expensive, though, and take a lot of monitoring. This would be less of a problem if we had set schedules and could get into a routine. With two people working retail, that just isn't possible. My schedule has calmed down for now, but that could change at any time. I never understood those people who run their entire lives by a schedule. Now I think that may be the only way we will ever get anything done. This profoundly depresses me. I miss free time.

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