Cinco De Mayo! And Then Some

Cinco de Mayo is one of my favourite holidays. Unfortunately, my beans, lettuce, tomato, and hot peppers aren't ready to harvest, yet, so I can't make yummy vegetarian tacos (un taco solo frijoles, no carne no queso!).

Okay, so also... Full disclosure, eh? Some of you may have noticed the dearth of photos of my apartment garden. About three weeks ago, I redid my garden plot. I had been debating back and forth with myself: Let the plants go for another month in the planter, or accept the fact that the soil I put in there is no good and amend it with compost? Amending the soil would invariably mean somehow losing a lot of the plants through tilling the compost into the soil or through just being covered with compost. But, I decided that I wanted a harvest, and any delay because of replanting would still be less than the amount of time it'd take the plants to grow in the current (old) soil.

So. I saved a few plants (a three-month-old tomato seedling with one leaf on it, some of the basil, the zucchini, the potato, and a chickpea) and then tilled the soil, adding a bag of compost. Now that I think about it, I should have waited and added a few more bags, but I made my choice and I am NOT effing with the plants again. I feel bad enough as it is. I am, however, fertilizing regularly, so I hope that's better.

Beyond the soil nutrient level, I was also worried about the layout. I had been growing in rows, which is great if you have hundreds of acres of commercial farmland and all the accompanying equipment, but when you have eight square feet inside your apartment, you have to be a bit more economical with space. So I randomly spaced out larger plants (like tomato, pepper, potato, pumpkin, beans) and sprinkled lettuce, kale, and spinach seeds around on top of the soil, because I will harvest these when they are smaller, which will allow the larger plants to fill out the space. I planted bush beans underneath the tomatoes, I planted chives in a circle around (actually, I'm not sure what I put there), I spaced out quick-cropping veggies like radishes near those that will take longer to develop, like peppers, in order to utilize the same space for more than one crop.

Last week, I also made a shallow arugula basket, and last night, I planted Swiss Chard and Nasturtiums in a window box.

I think I have made the right choice with the redoing the garden. I still need to calm myself down with the whole watering thing (I do it too frequently, now that the soil retains water better), but with the compost, the fertilizing, and just having tilled the soil so it isn't as compact, the (new) plants are going crazy. It's actually, I believe, a bit bushier than it was beforehand, even if the farmers' market Cherokee tomato wasn't in there.

So, here's a quick breakdown. 21 January, I seeded the first plants. 2 March, I finished the planter box and transplanted. 18 April (I think, it was that weekend, at least), I tilled and redid the garden. Going from this timeline, it was almost three months from sowing that I decided to give up on the current situation. My radishes (which generally are mature and ready to eat in a single month), had only one or two tiny true leaves--they were little more than just germinated. The tomatoes, turnips, eggplant, peppers, and so much else were in the same boat. The zucchini, pumpkin, and edamame were doing alright in terms of growth, but had other problems going on, too. It was a wreck.

In three weeks, my kale, turnip, chickpea, and pepper seedlings have outstripped the three-month-old plants' growth. The basil and tomato seedling I saved are getting bushy and looking happy; the zucchini and pumpkin are, well, still not; and all the beans are loving the planter. I think a lot of factors play in here--more ambient heat from outside, more intense sunlight, more nutrients for growth, a better watering schedule. Lots of things going on. I think I'm getting the hang of it. Finally.

Pictures to come after I get home tonight (busy busy). here (22:28).

View from the right. Forefront, on the ledge, a willow branch that I rooted and potted. Cherokee tomato behind that, lots of green in the planter. You can see two potted Cherokee tomatoes on the far ledge, with some tomato seedlings, a bowl of sweet potato adventitious roots, and a pot with some basil seeds in it, waiting to germinate. I don't know if you can see, but the zucchini isn't looking very hot.

You can (maybe) see the potato at the back of the planter. Many legumes are popping up--I had a little panic attack wondering what one of them was until I realized that I had planted azuki beans.

I sowed some peanuts in the pot on the left. Next to it are more tomato seedlings, another rooted/potted willow branch, the radicchio/chive/edamame medley that I put together for a coworker (it wasn't doing well in her office so I brought it home), a dwarf South African squill, and the last Cherokee tomato, currently without a home. I seeded some eggplant near it for company, and to exchange for part of a neighbour's rosemary bush. The half coke bottles? Oh, yeah--those are my makeshift greenhouses to germinate my carnivorous sundew.

Arugula! I can't wait to eat this yummers crop.

My Gynura aurantiaca. It's doing alright, but because it's in the window behind the blinds, I forget to water it sometimes. The vegetative growth has been accepting, but the flowers weren't happy with me so I clipped them off. They smell bad anyway.

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One Response to Cinco De Mayo! And Then Some

  1. In spite of the photographic evidence, I still can't believe you are for real.
    It is a giant hoax. Right?

    BTW, how do you stop the water from leaking through the compost into your neighbour's ceiling?




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