Monday, July 14, 2014

Urban gardening update, July 14th.

July 14: Hey, so no "news" to speak of with my indoor garden this year, but I did at least clean up my apartment this weekend into "company mode" and shot some photos, so everyone could see how everything is growing here here in the halfway point of the summer. In general I'm very happy with how everything is going right now, and am kind of amazed that I was able to get so many plants to get this successful in just my first year of trying.

As you can see in these overview shots, generally my plan for what I wanted to happen overall this year is really starting to come to fruition: when arranged correctly, these really are starting to form an overhanging ring around my main living space, in the hopes of sort of making it partly feel like a forgotten Victorian solarium that's half-gone to seed. There's still some growing to do before it really feels like this (and now that I know which trailing plants are going to do well in my place and which aren't, I need to grow about twice as many of the former plants next year as I did this year, if I want to cover all bookcase tops in this area of my apartment), but in general you can really start to see by now what I've been going for when I came up with this idea in the first place.

Two of the only three store-bought plants in my collection, both exotic -- a coleus bush and a palm tree, both less than $10 apiece at Home Depot -- and the pot of violas I seeded in April, which is growing long enough for the first time to start needing a place to comfortably hang down in the sunlight, and also covered in lovely little purple and white flowers at this point.

Four of my trailing plants: from left, my one surviving morning glory plant from my March seedlings, which is growing healthy and long at this point but unfortunately hasn't had even one flower yet; one of my two moonflower plants, this one also from March, which has grown into an adult and has flowered but is only spindly because of being started too early in the year; my store-bought ivy, which continues to grow up and up but hasn't gotten long enough to start bending over and down yet; and my cinnamon basil plant, grown primarily as an edible but that surprisingly has turned out to be quite a nice decorative plant as well.

My coleus, planted only ten weeks ago but already two feet tall, and bunchy enough that my two medium pots required replanting into this giant horizontal two-foot windowsill planter. I'm getting lots of good color from them at this point too, although sadly it looks like I'm not getting enough sun to produce the vivid pinks and yellows I've seen in other people's photos.

Some of my edibles from the other room, moved into the front room to take the spaces of the plants currently on tops of the bookcases. (All these plants live directly in front of the windows when company isn't over.) My two sweet basil plants from March 10th continue to yield tremendous amount of leaves on a regular basis, now that we're in the middle of the summer and they're growing at their fastest, while the green onions I brought home from the grocery store and replanted in May are already starting to often shrink their new growth to just minimal. (But this was eight weeks of uninterrupted growth and cutting and growth, for just two bucks' worth of stalks at the grocery store, so it really wouldn't hurt me to replace these stalks every two months with fresh ones, given how many recuttings I'm getting from them.) On the far left, one of the salad-green pots I completely harvested a couple of weeks, with there being a question of whether I'd get another round of growth from it; as predicted, there's been another, but much smaller and thinner than the original one that grew before it. That's exactly like what my gardening guides told me would happen, so no surprises there.

My second moonflower plant, started and cared for later in the year when days were warmer and sunnier (specifically, seeded May 11th, which makes what you're seeing here only eight weeks of growth), which as you can see has turned into my biggest success story so far of the year, in terms of plants I've grown literally out of hard little pebbles put into the dirt (a process I still find kind of amazing, every time I stop and think about it). Unfortunately, though, still no flowers, which is a bummer but not altogether unexpected: as I've been learning this year, there's a difference between a plant simply having the ability to grow in an indoor environment, and having the ability to grow to the fullest of its potential, and unfortunately one of the first things sacrificed with a lack of bright, direct sunlight for at least eight to ten hours a day is the ability to grow and bloom flowers. Still, I'm very happy with at least this plant's original goal, the ability to grow down and over the edges of all my furniture, to make the person sitting in my living area feel like they're inside a surround-sense living green space, one that warmly embraces them from all sides.

On the right, in front of the book, the only ivy cuttings I've tried this year to actually catch on and not die, these from April 9th. The process of recutting has been iffy at best this year, and at the very least I've learned that it's a long-term process even when successful, which has to be done exactly right and that relies on a certain amount of random luck just to work.

And then speaking of this surround-sense green space, here are some more shots of the entire thing from sitting eye level, then a few more pulled-back shots from a little later in the evening, when the sun was starting to go down and I had the indoor lights on for the first time. I have to say, from some of these angles, the place really is starting to finally achieve the look and feel I've wanted ever since moving in last August -- partly the cozy, slightly cluttered, dark, warm and intimate feel of a Victorian parlor, but filled with the kind of American Modernist furniture that I personally really like. I don't think these styles are necessarily incompatible, and I think I'm actually kind of pulling it off in these shots for the first time. Anyway, as always, more later!

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