Thursday, May 29, 2008

Catching Up

OK, so I'm going to admit that this blog was created about 2-3 months behind schedule when it comes to my garden. I started planting seeds back in March, so I have a lot of catching up to do in terms of blogging. It's taken me this amount of time to talk myself into committing to a blog.

To start out, let me paint a picture of my growing space.

My husband and I currently live in the 2nd floor apartment of an old house built in 1928. We're located in Oakley, an older beautiful "suburb" of Cincinnati. Our apartment has a balcony at the front of the house - it gives me about 6' x 25' of space to work with. Naturally, anything green is going to have to be situated in pots. The way I see it, when you're 20 feet off the ground there are going to be far fewer bugs and animals to wrassle with. Kudos for that. The down-side to being higher up in the air? Birds. Specifically, starlings. I'm going to have to vent those frustrations in a separate posting.

Anyways, we have lived at this location for the past three years, and each year I have become progressively more bonkers about growing a vegetable garden on the balcony.
The first year saw a few tomato plants, some bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, sweet banana peppers, and a healthy shock of herbs. The second year saw much of the same, minus the bell peppers, who were not very happy (smallish peppers with black patches). This third year promises great things.

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I have felt increasingly drawn to the soil and back to my farming roots. While I have always had a passion for fresh, homegrown, local produce, I can only guess that this year's lofty aspirations have something to do with my grandfather passing away last fall. He was a farmer and a preacher in rural central Ohio. Every summer the Jantzi Strawberry Farm was the source of a juicy ruby deluge of strawberries for the local community. Their pick-ur-own patch was legendary and beloved, and I am sorely missing it now that my grandfather is gone.

The passing of my grandpa coincided with my first experience with debilitating anxiety. Now that I am functional and learning to live again, part of me feels that sowing this garden is a way of saying goodbye - both to my grandfather and to my anxiety. In my mind, I'm planting my worries and anxieties into the soil, waiting for them to be transformed into something more beautiful and useful (and not to mention, DELICIOUS).

It also bears mentioning that my husband and I are both vegetarians - loud and proud for the past six years. So you can imagine the amount of salivation going on when we even think about a sugary handful of cherry tomatoes or the kick-in-the-pants crunch of a freshly-pulled radish.

So back to my line-up for this year's garden. I'm shooting for the closest thing I can manage to an organic garden. I bought organic seeds and organic fertilizer. I'm not planning on using any pesticides other than organic concoctions.
    • Sweet 100 Tomatoes, 3 plants
    • Eggplant, 1 plant (not sure of the variety)
    • Jalapeno Pepper, 2 plants
    • Sweet Hungarian Wax Pepper, 3 plants
    • Strawberry, 1 plant (not sure of the variety)
    • Basil, Sweet
    • Oregano, Greek Mountain
    • Thyme, French
    • Rosemary
    • Dill
    • Lavender
    • Mint, Kentucky Colonel
    • Red Beets "Cylindra" (organic)
    • Radish "French Breakfast" (organic)
    • Carrots "Chantenay Red Core" (organic)
    • Cucumbers "Sumter" (organic, small pickling)
    • Lettuce "Bibb" (organic)
    • Bunching Green Onion "Evergreen" (organic)
    • Green Peas "Progress #9" (organic)
The seedlings were purchased from various sources, to include Findlay Market in downtown Over-the-Rhine and H.J. Benken's Greenhouse in Silverton. The organic seeds were all purchased online from Garden Harvest Supply. I purchased Espoma Plant-Tone fertilizer from Garden Harvest Supply as well.

As you can see, I'm taking lots of chances this year, considering that most of these veggies I've never grown before and don't know how well they'll do in containers. I will admit, as well, to being a very novice gardener - I don't claim to know a whole lot about the finer details of urban container gardening, but I'm learning!

One of the most important factors for me is that having a garden to tend gives me a purpose and a joy in life. I find that a great way to combat anxiety about the future is to have things to anticipate in a positive way. I view this project as my "worry garden".

Well, that is the basic run-down of my lil' green nook in the city. I'm looking forward to getting down to details and pictures in future posts.

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