Monday, June 28, 2010

Prepping My Workspace

Although I am eager to get started with the actual gardening, I decided I should probably make the balcony a bit more garden friendly. First thing was to remove any unnecessary goodbye old beach chairs (and the spiders that call them home). Next was cleaning up about a year's worth of bbq drippings from under the grill. You can't see it in the picture below but She-ra is desperately trying to get past the doggy gate I put up to keep her out. There's nothing she'd love more than to help me "clean" by licking up the grease...mmm tastes like chicken.

Next I need to sort and clean the pots and planters I'll be working with. They've been stacked and sitting in the corner of the balcony for nearly two years.

Moving the pots, I discover some are filled with old soil and cigarette butts. It would appear that throughout the years party guests decided turn the pots into giant ash-trays, I certainly hope my guests are more mindful once my garden begins to sprout.

After almost two hours of cleaning, sweeping and rearranging the balcony, it is starting to look like my garden has a chance. I am also quite pleased to learn I have more pots (and sizes of pots) to work with than I had anticipated. My favorite is the rustic (or maybe just plain rusty) table and blue pot pictured below. This will make a lovely home for a rosemary or basil plant.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Getting Started

I have yet to plant my first seed and I am already encountering several problems. First, my balcony is not exactly the most ideal place to grow a garden. It is rather narrow and already there are far too many things cluttering up the space. There is the patch of grass my dog She-ra uses to "relieve" herself, two chairs, a table, a fan (don't ask) and of course my trusty grill (something i simply could not live without). Add to this the six pots I intend to use for my garden and I'm not quite sure if there will be any space left to walk from one side of th
e balcony to the other. As you can see the picture below, this is what i have to work with, so I must first try and clean up the space and de-clutter if there is any chance of ever getting this garden started.

My second problem is my dog She-ra. As I mention above, she is one very curious (and often restless) Shiba Inu. If left unattended she can become quite bored and her first instinct when that occurs is turning to mischief. This is her below. She may seem like a sweet little puppy, but trust me, if not exercised or played with regularly (something I've been guilty of on an occasion or two) she lets you know it by stealing, eating, biting and basically destroying all the things you most wish she not touch. Keeping her away from my plants, especially once they begin to bloom will be a big challenge.

Finally, there's the simple fact that, oh, I know NOTHING about starting a garden. Seriously, NOTHING. There are a million questions swirling through my head. What kind of seeds do I need? What kind of soil? Do I need fertilizer and what kind? How often do I have to water, do i keep the plants in the shade or direct sun....etc etc get the picture. You might wonder, with so many apparent obstacles, why even bother attempting this when it is so much easier to simply walk down to Gelson's or Ralphs and just buy my vegetables and herbs. Well, part of it is for hobby but more importantly this is my effort to become more self-sufficient in an era of ever increasing reliance on technology and modern conveniences. If you think about it, not too long ago most people still grew their own food, or at least lived in communities small enough to know exactly where their food came from, or how it was grown. Yet here I am, only a few generations removed from that and I have no idea how to even plant a seed. In general, most urban dwellers have very little connection to the earth. For me, this garden is a small attempt on my part to connect with nature, even if only on a small scale. In the process, I hope to learn a new skill that I will maybe one day put to use on a bigger scale. This will be challenging, however, if primitive ma, armed with nothing but his wits and two hands could master the earth and learn to grow the many varieties of vegetables and herbs we now find in our local supermarkets, then certainly I can grow at least a few bushels of spinach and some squash...after all, I not only have my wits and two hands....i also have the power of Google at my fingertips. Wish me luck!