(For all the updates from this year's indoor garden, click the "garden2016" label at the bottom of this post, or just "garden" for everything I've ever written on the subject.)
So, an interesting experience this weekend, as I start up the first early actions of this year's indoor garden; namely, I tried ordering live plants through the mail for the very first time. This is something I've been thinking about doing for years, since of course otherwise you're beholden to whatever plants your local brick-and-mortar store might just happen to choose or not choose to stock; and I have to admit, I'm less than thrilled with the choices I have in brick-and-mortar garden stores here within the large urban confines of Chicago. (My main choices from where I live in Uptown are either Home Depot, which is really hit-and-miss when it comes to the quality and selection of plants they have at any given time; or the usually much-loved Gethsemane in Andersonville, which I myself find so snooty and pretentious that I can barely stand even walking in the front door.) And now that I have an Amazon Prime account which gives me free shipping on all orders, there's really no excuse anymore for me to not try ordering some plants online, other than the worry that such a thing is simply not feasible and that all my plants will arrive dead.
For my first experiment I tried ordering some English ivy, to complement the morning glories and moonflowers that I'll be growing in order to let hang off the tops of my bookshelves and trail down the fronts, something I've tried in previous years which produces a messy, overgrown look I really love. (See the above photo for more, taken during last year's garden.) I ordered from a place called Hirt's Gardens in Ohio, and you can see here at the top of this entry how they arrived three days later -- basically a mixed bag, with some leaves that were browning but also with brand-new healthy growth among other leaves, the planters all taped up to keep the soil in and the whole thing packed tightly with styrofoam peanuts so that there was no shifting or settling during delivery. I repotted them into three medium-sized containers like you're also seeing above, which essentially cost me about four bucks a pot, which is even cheaper than buying them in-person here in Chicago, even if you could find a place that happens to be selling this particular type of plant. It remains to be seen what the long-term health of the plants will be; but for now, I have to say that I'm quite pleased with this first experiment in mail-order plants, and I think I'll be doing a lot more of this as the months and years continue.
And speaking of trailing plants, I'm pleased to say that, a mere five days after planting the seeds, I'm already seeing tremendous sprout growth among my moonflowers and morning glories, as expected since this is what happened last year as well. That's one of the wonderful things about these particular plants, is that they're hearty and grow extremely fast; and since the bigger goal with my decorative plants is the square footage of greenery I get out of them, as opposed to growing something particularly fancy or showy, that makes these particularly great things to grow for the confines of my particular apartment. More updates soon!