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GUEST BLOGGER: Balcony Gardening in Vancouver


Posted by : Anonymous, Sat, Jul 07 2007

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I've always figured I had the kiss of death when it came to growing things. Brown leaves, scraggly looking soil and the limping stature that befell each and every houseplant that came into my home just seemed to reinforce the fact I was a tried and true plant killer. My black thumb was a rap I couldn't shake. But when I moved into a new apartment with a balcony on the outskirts of Vancouver's Chinatown, I decided to make the effort to mend my evil ways.

A week after moving in, I purchased seed packets, starter plants, and a bunch of containers in all shapes and sizes from the local garden shop. With a bit of online research and asking my green-thumbed friends for tips, I felt confident that I could create an urban oasis in just 55 square feet of balcony space.

When I was little, my parent's backyard grew everything from rhubarb, corn, carrots, raspberries, and cucumbers and it all would end up at the dinner table. And that's what I wanted too! Balconies with flowerpots are nice enough, but I wanted to grow food.

Herbs are definitely the easiest to grow and have been turning up on my plate for almost every meal. Parsley, sage, rosemary, peppermint, thyme, lavender and dill are all growing like crazy. But I'm taking the good with the bad and unfortunately my basil plants are struggling. No matter how much harvesting I do (which should help to turn basil into a delicious bushy wonderland), I'm still having trouble giving them a solid footing. But I'm not giving up! Pesto or bust is my motto.

While growing herbs is great, it's much more of an adventure to see the pea, bean, pumpkin and zucchini plants I started from seed a couple weeks ago turn into thriving plants. They're still too young to yield any edibles, but I've become smitten with the process. Every weekend I plant a few more seeds... partly for insurance but also to see how far I can go! This weekend I'm trying my hand at radishes and fancy lettuces. Salad anyone?

However, the most exciting thing has been the growth from tomato seedling into an actual fruit-producing plant. I'm not kidding when I say I ran around the apartment squealing with joy when the yellow flowers had turned into tiny, beautiful looking green tomatoes earlier this week. When I purchased the seedling in April, I made sure it was a container-friendly variety (Bush Early Girl) and together my husband and I began tending to its needs. We would pet its leaves to help release hormones, we fertilized the soil every couple of weeks, and we made sure to keep water off the plant's delicate leaves, preventing the dreaded "early blight." And so far so good! There are definitely red, ripe tomatoes in my future.

As my container garden takes shape, my black thumb has hit the road. I've now got a new hobby that ties in with my love of food. Now, when I'm looking for a little "what's for dinner" inspiration, I no longer have to look in the fridge. Instead, I just walk out to the balcony to start my own little harvest.

Jeannette Ordas is a Vancouver-based Web Designer and Food Blogger who is probably right now thinking about what she'll make for dinner.

Posted: Sat, Jul 07 2007 by Anonymous
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