Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Garden 2016 has officially begun!



It's the beginning of April, so you know what that means -- time to start my third year of experimental indoor gardening! This is something I tried literally on just a random whim for the first time in 2014, because I had this new apartment and suddenly had the resources to do so, a new hobby that I quickly discovered was something I really enjoyed; then last year I simultaneously upped my game a bit (by buying grow lights for the first time, and trying out hydroponic salad greens) and had a setback (namely, the overwhelming amount of time that DevBootcamp took up last spring brought a sad early end to last year's garden). So this year I'm looking forward to a really great and productive growing season, hopefully uninterrupted by other concerns in my life, and especially enjoyable this year because I'm now throwing dinner parties on a regular basis, which means there will be other people besides myself to actually appreciate it all.

Like last year, I've made some adjustments to my 2016 plan based on what worked and didn't work in previous iterations of my garden; for this year's plan, that mostly consists of dropping all the stuff that's cheap and easy to buy at the grocery store (like salad greens, onions, peas, etc), and instead devote the preciously small amount of window-sill space I have to the herbs that are ridiculously expensive to buy at the grocery store (like basil, sage and lemongrass, all of which I grew last year as well, plus this year adding oregano, rosemary, thyme, dill, the spicier opal blend of basil, and mint). I'm also mixing up my plans a bit for the decorative plants I'll be growing this year; coleus is out for 2016, cape primrose is in, and I'll be adding the trailing plant oxalis (aka purple shamrock) to the usual moonflowers and morning glories I've grown in previous years, all of which hang off the tops of my bookshelves when mature and give my apartment this great "post-apocalyptic Victorian greenhouse" look by the middle of the summer.

I'm also hoping to pick up some more store-bought shade-friendly plants this year; I still have my snake plant from last year, which is still doing really well, and the succulent jade plant I've been growing for two full seasons, but all my other plants from last year have died by now, so I hope to add some ferns, perhaps a spider plant, and maybe a dracaena or two. And finally, I'm trying something really intriguing this year for the first time, which will either be a huge success or a dismal failure -- I've decided to try growing three palm trees all the way from seeds to their full seven-foot height! The subject is of course more complicated than this, but basically all those palm trees you see being sold for twenty bucks or whatever at Home Depot every spring (usually of the Majestic variety) are bad for indoor growing, which is why they sell for so cheap (I bought two of them two years ago, but then both died ignoble deaths over the winter); so this year I thought I'd buy Kentia palms, which are the ones most recommended for indoor growing and year-around health. The problem, though, is that you can't find any local Kentia palms for sale in the city, and to buy a full-sized one and have it shipped is nearly a thousand dollars; but Kentia seeds are only three bucks apiece, so I thought it would be interesting to make a long-term plan out of it, and see if I can't cultivate several thousand dollars' worth of palm trees using just some time and patience. If it goes well, I should be really rewarded in another three years or so; and in the meanwhile, I thought it'd be a really fun project to track online for all of you who follow along with this blog.

Anyway, as always, more details and updates as this spring continues. Looking forward to another busy and productive growing season!

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