Monday, 15 December 2008

a growing habit

It didn't take long before I realized I had a budding habit ... addiction, almost. I love growing things you can eat. It's one thing to have a pretty garden, but I find it absolutely alluring to have a garden you can harvest and put on a plate. And it plays to my eco-friendly streak, to eat something I grew myself that wasn't shipped, trucked, or flown to my plate.

It started with the things I already had in the garden. I already had a miniature lemon tree in a pot, one of my only potted plants from apartment life. Then there are the two kumquat bushes, some of which I've put in a jar with vodka and sugar to make a liqueur. A young lemon tree out the front. A row of neglected pear trees. A grape vine growing over the fence from the neighbours (turns out it's just ornamental, no fruit, how tragic). And of course, my massive big fig tree.

Next I wanted to grow herbs. Then vegetables. There isn't much space in the yard that gets enough sun ... but lucky for me, the front porch gets hours and hours of northern exposure (remember my American friends, north is toward the sun down here!).

And so here we have my front porch, several months and several shopping trips later. From left to right, we have:

Mint in a pot, though I finally found a place in the ground for it where I know it'll be happier.

My pride and joy, two big tomato plants. One is a small, yellow, pear-shaped tomato called "yellow pear." I didn't know when I bought it that apparently it's one of the least-tasty home-grown tomatoes ... oh well, at least the fruit are pretty. The other tomato is a mid-sized, normal round red variety called "better boy."

Below the tomatoes, in the square planter, is the next round of lettuce. There's some rocket (arugula to you Americans, yes it's Obama's favourite food) and a variety of lettuce called Red Flame that's meant to take the heat pretty well as the summer heats up.

Next to that is a jalapeno pepper, it didn't like the cool spring but it's got flowers now.

Below that is a set of two different basil, one normal Sweet Basil and one Thai Basil.

To the right we have a strawberry plant up the top. I ended up putting it in the compost, it was rubbish. For the record: strawberry plants put out runners, but the runners never produce as well as the parent plant. This one I bought from a lovely lady who sells herbs and veggie seedlings, and she did tell me it was from runners but at the time I didn't know any better. The thing only made 3 strawberries, one of which got eaten by a slug whilst still unripe. So no more strawbs for me.

Below that is a pot with a thyme and oregano sharing real estate, then a rosemary plant. I just gave the rosemary away, they don't really like pots and I don't have anywhere to plant it (and I now have prostrate rosemary in front of the mosaic).

Below that is some flat-leaf parsley, just the thing for finishing off dishes and you hardly need any for one meal.

Then my pride and joy, two kinds of lettuce. One is a bit dull, it's called Salad Bowl Green and I wouldn't recommend it. It's not crisp enough for my taste and its leaves are so deeply serrated and wrinkly that it's hard to wash. The other is called Frilly Pink and I like it a lot - ruffly but flat leaves that are easy to inspect and wash, nice crisp texture, just a bit bitter.

For the record, I tried growing strawberries in the side pockets of that big pot. You can see how well that turned out. Turns out the lip of the pot forms a rain shadow so when you water from above, it doesn't get into the little pockets, so all three strawberries died from lack of water. Live and learn ... and never buy one of these "herb pots", they're rubbish. Good thing I got it in a mixed lot on eBay!

So yeah, I've been keeping busy. And of course behind all that are two Christmas poinsettias, my wreath of red berries, and Percival watching me from inside.