Monday, May 5, 2014

Urban garden update, May 5th.

(I'm trying something special this year and am keeping a "photo blog," telling my story mostly through images but with a bit of description added as well, concerning my first-ever year of being an urban gardener. Check the "Garden 2014" photoset at my Flickr account for the entire series, including more photos for each entry than you see here.)

May 5: Not much work today, but I did do some transplanting; I noticed that my 4-inch pots of basil and salad greens haven't seemed to have grown much lately, and when I looked at the bottom, sure enough there were tons of roots growing through the drainage hole, so I knew it was time to transfer them both into the 6-inch pots that will be their final adult homes for the rest of the season. (Apparently such plants grow to a total height of six to eight inches under ideal circumstances, so you want six to eight inches of soil depth too.) I also took the opportunity to try a tip from my Facebook friend and fellow gardener Katy, which was to simply buy a bunch of green onions at the grocery store and pot them at home; apparently you can just snip off the green parts whenever you need them, and the bulb under the soil will keep growing more stalks all year long.

But alas, even when I checked in a couple of hours later, at sunset when I move all my plants away from the windows again for another night, the onions had drooped quite dramatically; so I thought maybe that advice should actually be to cut the adult stalks first, and use in some cooking soon, then plant just the bulbs and sprouts and wait for the next round of stalks to come up. And it just so happens that my first dinner party of the year is this coming Thursday -- I'm cooking for eight -- so this giant pile of green onions will actually come in quite handy. So hooray for me!

Also took the opportunity to shoot some "in-progress" photos of everything at sunset, my favorite time to shoot images of the plants, so that in future years I can rifle through all my 2014 photos and see exactly how big everything had gotten by whatever specific date. I have to say, all ten containers I now have of edible plants are each looking great in my opinion, which is a relief since your chances indoors with plants that need a lot of sun is always iffy at best. It'll be interesting to see how much actual edible food I'll get out of these; that will profoundly help me determine how much to schedule in advance for next year's garden, and what kinds of goals I need to set in order to have truly self-sustaining edibles for the entire summer in 2015. (That's the future goal -- to be able to have a salad every couple of days all summer long, and make a big jar of pesto every week, using just crops from my personal garden.) By the way, as a long-term follow-up to the question from a couple of weeks ago -- of whether carbonated water really is a kind of magic elixir to plants compared to regular water, which is easy for me to provide now that I have a Sodastream here at home -- well, I think you can see the results for yourself; all these things are growing like wildfire right now, and it's pretty amazing to realize that even the oldest of the plants you're seeing here were nothing more than pebbly seeds less than two months ago. I can state for a fact, for example, that my pot of looseleaf lettuce had before the carbonated water all been laying on its sides in a wilted-looking way, which I had thought was just its natural state; but after a couple of weeks of carbonated waterings now, it's proudly sticking up in the air like a 16-year-old boy in the math class of a surprisingly hot teacher.

And speaking of seeds, I'm happy to say that every crop of my latest two rounds of seedings (4/8 and 4/28) have sprouted now at least once, although it's quite different from one case to the next; as you can see, for example, the lavender and coleus are starting to sprout up by the dozens, just these wonderfully cute little tadpole things that are spreading like wildflowers; and in a wonderfully satisfying return on investment, four out of my six moonflower seeds and four of my six morning glory seeds have all sprouted now too. But it's still only been one out of six of the sugar pea pod plants, for another example; and less than a handful of the hundred chamomile seeds I spread with my clumsy giant fingers too, even as the oldest seedings of this bunch (violas and mesclun [a French salad mix], from April 8th) are getting very close to being ready to transplant into their transitory four-inch peat-paper pots.

Oh, and look how sad that palm looks all alone in that big white space over in the corner! How wonderfully would a big, bushy, but cheap fern look matched up with it on the radiator there, growing horizontally as the palm grows vertically, and the rest of that wall space filled with some picture frames I'm hanging soon? I think, in fact, a big ol' cheap basic fern is next on my list of major acquisitions from a store, although doubtfully in time for the dinner party on Thursday. Drat!

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