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
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
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