I swore at the beginning of this spring, when the weather started getting warmer and I could venture out onto my balcony, that I would not torture any plants this summer by attempting to grow them. That’s what I said at least.
I do not have a green thumb. I didn’t get those genes. Sure, they run in the family. I grew up at my grandparents’ house and my Grandad has a magnificent garden. My aunt maintains that garden now and it’s a sight to see. But when I was growing up in that house gardening was my punishment. When I did something bad (which, granted, wasn’t all that often) I was told to go outside and weed the garden. I hated weeding then and I still do now.
My brother, on the other hand, did inherit the gardening genes. He too has a balcony attached to his apartment and on that balcony he’s grown all sorts of wonderful things. He has plans for it this year too.
But not me. I may be a Farmer, but I am not a gardener.
Yeah. Famous last words.
So a couple of weeks ago, to express their condolences over the death of my brother, my coworkers got me this amazing petunia plant. I mean, this thing was huge and gorgeous. But it’s a plant. Fortunately one of my coworkers, Diane, had included a note with detailed instructions on how to care for it and keep it alive. I can follow instructions. So I took it home and put it on my balcony.
Well, the balcony had three empty, dirt-filled containers on it from previous years’ failed attempts at growing things. I looked at my lonely petunias, looked at the empty containers, and thought “Maybe there are other plants that like a lot of direct sunlight?”
So I did my research, went off to Lowe’s, and came back with two lavender plants. I planted them in two of the containers that already had dirt (one of which also already had a bit of indestructible mint growing in it) and smiled in satisfaction.
Then I frowned. Wait a minute…. Hadn’t I vowed not to kill plants this year? But there I was, petunias, mint, and lavender. Oh well. It was just a few things, no big deal.
A couple of weeks passed. I got into the habit of watering the plants every morning. Diane provided me with some Miracle Gro and more instructions on how to feed the plants. And you know what? They didn’t die. Not only that, they have continued to grow! And bloom too!
Well, with all this gardening confidence I got a little goofy. Last Saturday I gave in to the itch that had been growing (no pun intended) in me for days. I couldn’t resist. I took another trip to Lowe’s. I told myself that I was just going to look around, see what they had, and price things. But that was all I was going to do.
My balcony now has two new containers adding to the garden. One of them is planted with basil, cilantro, and dill, all herbs that I use in my cooking. In the other one I planted three small zucchini plants.
Okay, those of you out there who are seasoned gardeners can understand why Diane’s eyes grew round and she laughed when I told her I had planted three zucchini plants in my balcony container garden. Somewhere in the back of my mind I knew the nature of zucchini plants, but all of that was lost under the thought that I like to eat zucchini.
As Diane reminded me, zucchinis GROW. They take over. They spread out through the whole garden, popping out more zucchini than anyone could ever hope to eat. That’s why people who grow zucchini spend all summer trying to palm them off on friends, family, coworkers, strangers passing in the street. They are more than just a vegetable, they are a saga.
I have zucchini growing on my balcony. Diane pointed out to me that I have a problem. They will not stay neatly confined within the space of the planter box. No way. They are going to spread and spill over onto the concrete. Herein lies the problem. Zucchini growing on concrete will cook as they grow. This would defeat the purpose. So I now have to be clever and come up with a zucchini solution.
Solution number one: Figure out a way to spread some sort of mesh or towels or soft carpeting over the balcony around the area where the zucchini will grow so that they will not overheat or wither on the concrete.
Solution number two: Set up some sort of trellis and force the zucchini plants to grow up and off of the ground. This solution really appeals to me, mostly because I would love to see how big a zucchini can get before it picks itself under its own weight. That might be the best solution of all.
So really there is no conclusion to this post. My container farm has just begun. I wanted to get some beans too, but I figure enough is enough for one summer. I plan on doing periodic updates on the progress of the whole thing.
Unless the zucchini take over my entire apartment, that is.