Monday, June 23, 2014

Urban gardening update, June 23rd.

June 23: Well, exciting news in the last week -- I picked up my second-ever store-bought plant! And that's because I finally found a large and inexpensive garden center in the city but without all the attitude -- turns out the Home Depot on North Avenue has a huge garden section, for both indoor and outdoor gardeners. After some debate, I picked up the croton plant you're seeing in these photos next to the palm, on sale for six bucks; like the palm, it's a tropical plant that likes a lot of water but needs to drain quickly as well, likes lots of indirect light but will wilt under direct exposure to the sun's rays, and that needs to be kept humid at all times, which I've usually been doing by misting both plants once every 24 hours, but just today finally also got a rock garden with water set up underneath them, so the evaporating water will constantly be going up the lengths of the plants too. That's why these plants are always so cheap, because they need a fairly decent amount of care to keep them thriving.

I also finally sat down and read up again in detail about lettuce and mesclun plants, and realized that if I didn't harvest my three adult pots soon, they would "bolt" and the leaves would turn bitter; I got one large salad and one small one out of the pickings (I gave the small one to Carrie), plus a big pot of pesto (my two adult basil plants produced three packed cups of leaves here on its latest harvesting). Sadly, though, I also learned that salad greens are not really a "cut and carry on" crop; you can pretty much expect to get only one good harvest from each plant, and MAYBE a second or third smaller one if you cut the first harvesting right (that is, all the way down to the last inch of the previous stalks). And that seems to be bearing fruit so far -- as you can see in the photos taken today, there are new leaves already coming up on these stripped lettuce plants just a week later.

Other than that, everything else is looking great right now too -- especially impressive are the coleus plants, which were literally seeds just seven weeks ago, and also how nice the newest moonflower plant looks when put next to my older and now untangled morning glory plant, both of them on top of my lamp during the day so they can trail down in the direct sunlight. (These get moved to the top of my bookshelves during the night and when company is over, along with my ivy.) And I started a new round of seeds today too, although just three new crops of warm-weather plants (chamomile, lavender, and sage), to try again after the sudden death of all three last month during a random cold day while they were next to an open window. I THINK the weather in Chicago has finally turned warm for good by now (it freaking BETTER have), so I'm excited to try all three of these again and see if I can grow them into adult form. These are part my plan for Christmas presents this year -- to harvest and dry all these myself, then make my own customized "bath bombs" to give out to everyone -- so it'd be nice if I could get these more delicate and fragrant plants to bloom well in August when they'll just be hitting their adult forms and flowering for the first time. As always, more later!

Oh, and one more surprise -- my viola plant from April 8th finally bloomed for the very first time yesterday! Here's hoping it's the first flower of many!

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