Flowers are pretty and nice and good for the bees (I planted some of those as well) but I have always preferred growing things to eat. It’s always fresher and better when it’s from the garden, and once you’ve had your own heirloom tomatoes, you will forego all others.
Herbs are the most practical things to grow, as how many times have I bought a whole bunch of parsley or dill, only to use a chopped teaspoon as a garnish, and then finding the rest of the bunch in a sad state in the back of the fridge on the next clean-out. It’s nice to have an herb garden to just get a handful here and there, it makes things smell nice, and it inspires you to whip something up summery and happy, something that the memory of will get you through another dark winter.
So, what exactly have I planted so far?
Here’s the list. It's ambitious. Mint, rosemary, basil, thyme, tarragon, cilantro, parsley and lavender. I’ve got a batch of cukes in as well, as you can’t have a pimms without them, and they are also lovely muddled in some gin and tonic, and I’ve had good luck making quick pickles with them that go perfectly on a bowl of summery soba noodles. I’ve also got some kale and tomatoes that happily taking root in some peat pots that I got at the £ store. The kale pops its green heads up amazingly fast; it took about 5 days for them to appear en masse, while the tomatoes had me worried and took more like 10 days for one or two to tentatively peek out from the compost.
I have everything on trays with a greenhouse cover- it goes out in the morning if it’s going to be a warm day out; otherwise the seedlings spend the day in the sunniest windowsill I have. I bring them in at night, as you still need a winter coat at night and the temperature hovered right above freezing a couple of days last week. I accidentally left a flat of lettuce out overnight and it expressed its displeasure by flopping over limply in protest until I put it back on the sill. I still am not quite sure if I have enough sunlight for the tomato plants to thrive, but I’m hoping that as the sun climbs higher in the sky, I will have less shadows and more direct sun on the balcony. I also have a barrel of compost for my kitchen scraps and coffee grinds started, and that should get going nicely once it warms up more.
I am staggering everything on a week to week basis, ensuring that things will stay in control and I won't have a million pounds of eggplant to deal with all at once.
More than anything, I really love the tactile experience. Getting my hands dirty, poking seeds into the dank earth, watching obsessively the growth and water intake. I've been scavenging for planters and pots on the cheap or free, so I'll have plenty to do once it's time to transplant them. Most of the things recommend starting things outside in April, and although we haven't had a frost in weeks, I want to make sure I don't fail at patio gardening.
I have my booze at the ready and the cocktail shaker will get here eventually. I’m just waiting for the sun to shine.