Is it the beginning of the foraging season already? Um, not quite. There's still snow on the ground, although the weather has warmed up and the snow is melting. Spring will offically be here in a week! That means, time to get the seeds sown in the pots!
Last year, I started planting in late February, would you believe? It would've been OK if we had had an early spring, but that was not the case. Spring came as late as April and we had a very wet month of June. This year, however, promises to be, well, a lot more promising!
I have tons of seeds that I collected from last year, including seeds that I got from Richters. I bought a few more herb seeds as I'm thinking to get a little plot that the city offers to citizens who don't have a garden. It's a tiny space of land, 3 x6, but I thought about planting a herb garden, such as Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, Savory, Tarragon, etc., herbs that prefer drier conditions and require less care than other fussier plants ;)
I'm also thinking to asking my landlord if I could make a little garden on the tiny spot of land behind the balcony leading to the front door. Some of the land gets some sun while the other half is really in the shade, so I was thinking about using plants that are more shade tolerant or those that grow in forests. I'm not sure how my landlord would take to the suggestion, however, so I'm not going to count on it if he vetoes the idea.
Interestingly, it does seem that I am always managing to expand my "balcony" garden with each passing year. This year, I got the idea to add 2 more brackets onto the balcony posts so I can have 2 more hanging baskets (I'm thinking Nasturitum, pretty and edible too). There's also a little spot by the stairs that I might be able to fit in a tall planter (I'm thinking Comfrey) and another little spot close to entrance coming up the driveway (I'm thinking another tall Comfrey planter).
I'm mad for plants and gardening, what can I say ;)
I'm also thinking to plant some greens like Lettuce and Spinach this year, using square foot gardening principles. I have an idea to get a box and place it under a table where I usually have a big box that has annuals. The table will provide some shade for the greens and allow them not to bolt so fast! Parsley might be another addition to that box as in my experience she prefers part shade to full sun.
On the educational side of things, I've been looking into getting a certification in permaculture. It all started with looking for some more info on growing my own veggies and having some more horticultural knowledge, and lo and behold, my research got me looking into permaculture! There's a certification offered where I live by the standards of Bill Mollison, the founder of permaculture, so it seems pretty snazzy. The price is likewise...pricey! There's a course being offered in the summer, but I'm thinking the fall might be a better time as I tend to work more hours during the nicer weather, plus there's always such fun foraging adventures to be had!! Oooh, can't wait!
I've also been looking into a school that offers clinical herbalism combined with naturopathy as a certification. I'll need to get more info before I decide to take any classes there, although there are offering a few plant identification classes that seem right up my alley.
And speaking of classes, if you are looking to learn botany online and for a pretty reasonable price (say, by donation), there's a new course that's going to be offered around the start of spring, the last week of March. It uses the book Botany in a Day by Thomas J. Elpel and there's a Facebook group of people where you can get extra support. It's exactly what I've been looking for, as I bought the book during the Christmas holidays and started to read it, but felt I needed a little bit more motivation and support to get into all the classifications and Latin terminology! You can check it out HERE if you're interested.
Getting back to my balcony garden, I'm thinking to grow some Strawberries in some coir pots on my back balcony that gets a lot of sun. I'm also thinking to invest in getting some deep totes or maybe milk crates to be able to offer more soil for the plants to grow in. And speaking of soil, I'll definitely be adding compost, worm castings and seaweed fertilizer to enhance my soil! I may make some compost tea, and the thought had occurred to me to collect some worms during the spring when it rains so much that the sidewalks are littered with them! Ha ha, free beautiful worms to enhance the soil! I won't be collecting any worm castings (aka their poop), just want them living in the pots to enhance the soil. I noticed last year that there were too many bugs on my plants (aphids, white flies), and I take this to mean that the soil was not strong enough. The potting soil I bought did seem a bit weak and I didn't add any compost to it, silly me. Growing in pots is a much more sterile environment that growing in the ground, but we can still amend the soil so that it has a healthy soil-biome!
I can't say for sure what plants I'll be growing just yet, but I need to get a move on it, I know! The seed packets are waiting for me on the table, and I've even cleaned out the sprouting trays, so it's a matter of me sorting it all out! I know Nasturtium, Calendula, Malva Sylvestris, Nettle and Stevia are on my list. Probably St. John's Wort and Sheep Sorrel. Marshmallow and Pleurisy root. I've got so many that I need to decide: Motherwort, Joe Pye Weed, Shepherd's Purse, Fireweed, Lemon Balm, Purslane...And still so many others! I planted some Lavender and Sweet William last year so will see how they've fared being in the shed during the winter. Chickweed is always on my list, she's such a sweetie greeny :)
I might get some more seeds from Richter's ~ that's the thing about gardening, there are so many intriguing plants and you want to play with them all! But I was thinking about getting some Centaury seeds as she's a bitter plant in the Gentian family known to be an excellent dewormer, exceptional, so one lady was saying, at unhooking those nasty bugs that have their hooks digging into the intestinal wall. I'm all for it if it works and Centuary is an easy plant to grow.
Annuals: I've got Mustard (yep, she can grow under the table with the Lettuce and Spinach), Zinnia and others that I can't recall to mind. I'm hoping to make a nice Zinnia lemonade this year, as last year I planted them in the wrong spot. She's definitely a fussy one, needing room to breath and sun, sun, sun! She was none too pleased growing close together in narrow flower pots on the front balcony that got the afternoon sun. Oh no, she was fussy and told me so many a-time! So this year, we'll give her the proper conditions and I can hopefully partake of a special cooling tea! Cleavers, yes, I'll plant that lymphatic helper too. And Borage beauty, she's so gorgeous, I love her sweet flowers and tender, cuke-like leaves. That's right, I have some seeds for Dame Rocket and Meadowsweet, and I'm cold stratifying some Rose seeds and ooh, forgot her name now, oh yes, that's right, Sweet Cicely, she's used as a sugar substitute. We'll see if they come out as these kind of things can be tricky, trying to imitate nature and all...
OK, no more hogwash talk! Off to get myself into seed planting action! Keep you posted on the results of my gardening efforts.
You take care now, Sunshine, and keep lighting the way despite the snow :)
Curiosity Got The Cat: