The Kitchen Garden

When Jon and I first met he loved telling his friends that I grew my own herbs. At that point, it was just a couple pots outside my front door. He also liked to garden - one of his first gifts to me was a homemade wooden box filled with his own tomatoes. Half of which were delicious, and half of which were a strange spongy consistency, and well, not something you'd want to eat. But out of guilt I chopped them up and put them in an omelet, just to say I'd used them. The next year we both started our basil in the cool wet spring that seemed to go on forever and found it shrinking back to nothing. I brought mine inside and nursed it back to health and eventually had an abundant crop by mid summer, and Jon's shriveled back to a single brown stem about 3" high. He kept it all season long, right there along with his other plants. He also managed to grow some unappetizing looking round yellow cucumbers along with a healthy crop of grape and cherry tomatoes and some very lush cilantro, dill and fennel.

This year, we decided to take it up a notch and grow from seed. Because a) it's a lot more impressive, and b) if your basil plant dies it only takes a few weeks to grow a new one, and at a fraction of the cost. I think the most important thing with gardening, especially on windy balconies that get limited amounts of sun, is to just have fun and hope for the best. If you set yourself up to expect a full garden all summer long that will replace trips to the grocery store or save you bundles of money, you're going to be disappointed. Gardening is unpredictable, time consuming, and sometimes expensive - 3 months of grow lights, bundles of pots, and bag after bag of potting soil and seed starting medium start to add up. But it's really fun to see something go from a tiny seed to a thriving plant and better yet, one you can cook with. And it's really great to come home at night and be able to pick something fresh from the garden for dinner.

Our herbs - started in February, repotted twice, and transitioned to the outdoors in the last 2 weeks. From left - Italian Basil, Dill, Parsley (supposedly flat leaf, but rather wavy), Thai Basil, Cilantro. We also have Rosemary, Chives, and Lemon Thyme to round out our summer collection.

Lettuces - Romain, Merlot Leaf, Mesculin Mix, 'Mervielle de Quatr Saisons' Butterhead, and below, the last of our arugula crop which started the bolt last week. Lettuces, especially those you eat as babies can be planted every few weeks in the summer. In warm sunny weather they only take a few weeks to go full circle so this will ensure a near constant supply.

And our vegetables - French green beans (just starting out), fava beans, tomatoes. We have 3 varieties of tomatoes, which one day I lost track of when moving the pots around, so it'll be a suprise when they actually start to produce fruit. One of the three varieties is rather runtish and is still small and weak whereas the others have become a couple feet tall, full, and covered in little buds. Actually, I threated to toss them and Jon has adopted them as 'his' tomatoes that he plans to bring back to health. They are a bit stronger these days. We'll have to let you know how they turn out.

Our balcony garden with a few flowers mixed in.

1 comment:

  1. What an impressive garden! Your photos and my constant salad cravings have inspired me to plant some good lettuces this year, and the head gardener has approved tomato adoption ... Yay!