Balcony Gardening Ideas, Eating Dirt to Rebalance Gut Flora (soil based probiotics) &Spring Planting
Lots of goodie news, not sure where to begin!
So, the past few days have been sunny and nice. Typical 20C spring weather, not humid at all, just lovely, bright, sunny and gorgeous weather for...foraging and gardening! As for the former, I tinkered with the idea of visiting Bellefield, for which as far as I know they will be tearing up the land and putting up condos. I had seen some Garlic Mustard whizzing past on my bicycle to work, but I was thinking more about...Nettle! May-June is the time to harvest Nettle, BUT if you continue to prune Nettle so that she doesn't go to seed, you can potentially harvest her all summer and fall long. I wish I knew my Botany better (yes, yes, I'm taking the course now and there are A LOT of plants in the world, as I'm sure you must know) because I'm not sure which species of Nettle she is. Oh yes, she does sting, but I think there are several that do... Sigh, botany is a work in progress ;)
Now, getting to gardening, hot diggity, have I been busy! I spent a couple of days mixing the old potting soil with compost and then filling in all the pots. I have a back and front balcony and I have pots lining the side of the house on a small plot of land behind the front balcony.
Update: remember how I had the idea to make a little garden there? Scratch that! My landlord, whom one of on my neighbors sarcastically calls Mr. Smiley was quite put out that I left my pots to overwinter under the balcony. There was just a few bags of compost left and one planter and then I was going to clean the area, when mister decided to take things into his own hands and haul all the bags to the shed out back and clean it up, leaving me a posted sign to KEEP IT CLEAN, LADY. Clearly, the man has control issues, as all my neighbors are aware of his antics, including his obsession of spraying the house for spiders, spraying the Rose bushes against bugs and spraying the lawn against weeds. Just a little psychology here, but when you meet someone who is constantly grumpy, you have to wonder why. It's not that he's a mean person, actually, but when you dig a bit deeper and find out that the man has several health issues, including knee pain and hypertension, you start to understand that pain can translate as negativity. Company, however, does not like misery!
Long story short (too late), I decided to not even bother to ask about a garden and remembering all those chemicals in the soil made me not even want to plant anything there anyway, so I just did what I did last year and put out all my pots alongside the house. I added 2 bamboo baskets, lining them first with mosquito netting (yep, the kind you buy from hardware stores that fit on your screen door) before adding the earth. And I also added this really long basket that would be so wonderful to use in the garden to collect herbs and produce, but as I don't have an actual garden, I lined it with mosquito netting, added soil, and it and all the other pots are waiting for seeds to go in.
Well, not all. Yesterday I got to planting seeds on the back balcony. Really, I don't know why I bother to make these charts of what I'm going to plant on the back balcony and where, and the same thing for the front balcony and side of the house, because when I got the sowing seeds yesterday I just stayed in the present moment and let the seeds dictate where they wanted to be planted!!
I have 3 large pots and 1 pot that fits onto the railing that need potting soil~ so I can plant even more goodies in there~ but so far here is a list of what's been sown and expected to grow up big and strong on the back balcony:
Each one of them has their own pot, but the thing about balcony gardening is that everything will be in miniature. Rosemary, for example, is a small shrub, but just a tiny thing in comparison in a pot! Seems like a lot of plants, I know, but I use the concept of vertical gardening to my advantage: I use a table to grow food on top and under the table, and I also use a kitchen cart that has 3 shelves, which holds about 4-5 pots on each shelf, for a total of about a dozen pots. I also use pots that fit on the balcony railing (6 in all ) and I have a stackable planter with 3 tiers that fit on top of one another, each tier being able to house 4 mini plants, so able to hold up to a dozen plants. In short, when you're growing in a small space, you want to think about how you can create "levels" or ways to use the space vertically, and there have been a few creative ideas out there: re-purposing an untreated wooden pallet, hanging up a shoe rack against the wall, using an old bookcase.
I'll probably take some pics later on in the season, no point now as there's nothing but bare soil ;)
SCORE! Saw my neighbor who happened to be weeding today. Guess what goodies I got to bring home? A big bag full of dirty Dandelions! You bet I'm NOT going to wash them! If you're thinking, ew, that's gross, then you should be aware that soil based probiotics are known by herbalists and are now being sold for a pricey bit of money in health food stores. Why bother when you can eat dirt for free from your garden? If you want to read more about it and you have digestive issues (in the form of leaky gut), I'd recommend you check out Dr. Axe's book Eat Dirt. Good read, highly informative.
Also got to try some red Tulips, yum! Made my neighbor try and she was surprised at how sweet it was. Yes, I was telling her, I told my botany teacher about Tulips too and he didn't know they were edible either!! But they are! And different colors taste differently and they are oh-so YUMMERS! I like to stuff mine like squash blossoms, but you can add the petals to salads or even soups and stews. PETALS, NOT the inner STAMENS. The inner stamens you need to remove. Go ahead and try it (just not store-bought chemical-laden ones, OK?).
Also had a nibble of Forget-me-nots flowers. Eh, nondescript taste, just OK. Gill-over-ivy, aka Creeping Charlie had my adenoid glands tingling, never been fond of the antiseptic taste, but as she is a mint, I'm sure she'll be just fine once I add her to the soup pot.
Now to get to my front balcony and the side of the house. Tell you what I planted next time, sunshine, because the soil and seeds are beckoning me to come and play :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: