Sunday, January 8, 2012

plans for the garden

so there's lots of other stuff i was going to write about "when i have more time" and right now i can't remember any of it right now. oh well. it's jan in vancouver and i'm heartily sick of the rain and fog and general gloominess. we've have about 2 days of partial sun here in the last 3 or 4 weeks. i'm desperate for some vitamin D. i know, can't really expect anything different living in van but i never chose to live here, damnit. i'm loooonging for spring. i want cherry blossoms and crocuses and sunshine and daffodils. most of all I WANT TO PLANT THE GARDEN!!! our new place has a nice sized balcony and i fully intend to make us an edible jungle out there. this is what i'm planning:

window boxes-all the way around the outside of the railing. this will give us lots of planting room without eating all the walking space. i'll try to find deep ones since the usual 6" depth is not ideal for veggies. it's fine for herbs and lettuce and edible flowers and i did grow tomatoes in them last year with limited success but i think everything would have done better with deeper roots. in these is going to go most of the herbs, lettuce, snow peas, cucumbers, zucchini, green onions, carrots, radishes, violets, and strawberries. anything that has to climb, has shallow roots, and/or needs lots of sun. our balcony faces north-east so we are going to have issues with not enough light, especially on the northern side. light hogs like tomatoes and eggplant have to go on the east side. i may also be getting cuttings of honeysuckle so i'll have to make room for a planter or two on the ground so they can wind their lovely smelling vines all around the balcony railings under the rest of the edible jungle.

self watering containers-at least a couple in the corners for stuff that really needs to never dry out. i'll be trying my hand at making these out of the 3 gallon buckets they have at my local dollar store. should make a nice weekend project while i'm waiting for the weather to warm up and the sun to come back. in these is going to be cherry tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and brussel sprouts. i'm trying not to use up too much floor space with these so we'll tuck them in corners. the water hogs are also light hogs so we'll see about staggering things in hight over on the north side.

compost-rule 1 of gardening, build your soil!!! first of all i'm determined to find a good source of ready-made compost to give my plants a nice head start. potting soil from a bag is sterile and dead. that's very bad for healthy plants. secondly, i'm determined to get a vermiculture bin to live on the balcony. we wont have anything finished from it for a few months but at least worms can eat our garbage rather than the landfill and we should have some great stuff by mid to late summer

hanging baskets-to make use of vertical space. while we're at it i'll be running fishing line to the roof as trellis for climbing things like the peas. i think i'll have to glue little strips of wood to the stucco to have an anchor point to attach things to. time to see if gorilla glue is all it's cracked up to be. i think i have 1"x1"s around here somewhere but i'll have to wait for a dry day. anything that trails can go in the hanging baskets so probably the oregano and thyme and whatever other herbs i can get to behave in them. maybe some nasturtiums tumbling over the edge for colour.

early and late crops-i wont really know if i have space problems until i have all the planters in place but since my plans are more ambitious than last year and my light isn't as good, there's a fair chance i'll be struggling to fit everything where it will do well. some of this issue i plan on managing by having a few crops that are happier with cooler weather and less light, such as snow peas, radishes, lettuce, and brussel sprouts; and others that either have long growing seasons or need the blazing heat of summer, such as carrots and peppers. the early crops can be pulled out when they're wrapping up and replaced with something that needs their space, than replanted later in the summer for a fall crop or just moved elsewhere.

other pretty and useful things-mirrors are going to go in on the building side to reflect back what light we do get. i'll have to watch carefully in the summer that they don't burn the plants if the light gets too intense. if so i'll have to screen them somewhat with a piece of sheer fabric or something. a little triangular shelf is going to go in one corner to hold an ashtray, a little fountain, and your drink. i'm hoping this can take the place of the little table out there right now and free up a bit of floor space. i love fountains and have been missing them since both of mine broke. if i can find a cheep one i'll get two and put one in my bedroom as well. i'm hoping this will help attract birds and bees. if i have room i'll put in a small bird feeder as well just to enjoy their company a little closer up. we'll have to watch the cats carefully :) since we'll be creating a lovely little garden with living curtains, i was going to make it a tad more habitable with a fast drying mat or carpet. i might crochet a rag rug or something. i'll probably put in a couple of hurricane oil lamps as well that can be filled with citronella for summer evenings. the neighbours have a little BBQ which means we can get away with this too if we can find a place to put it...

i just found out that there's a good garden store right by holdom skytrain, which means i can actually get at it! before the only one i knew of was over an hour by bus. initial setup will be a lot of stuff (planters, brackets, compost, soil) so i'm hoping to get a friend to drive me for that run and get everything set up by the end of feb at the latest. i want to start planting no later than early march, mid feb if i can manage it. last year i think i started too late. this year i'm so eager i'll be amazed if i can wait for the last frost to clear. i must go play in the plant store! and somehow avoid buying everything in sight. hmmm, maybe if i just price things out and buy some seeds to start with? wish me luck!

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