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Lessons Learned from Two Years of Apartment Gardening

by Guest Post on September 17, 2010

in Fruits & Vegetables,Inspiration

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I’m really thrilled to share today’s post, written by Gail from Calgary, AB Canada. Gail is new to gardening, but I think she’s definitely up to the challenge of apartment gardening! I hope all LOTB readers can identify with her post about the lessons she has learned from her garden this year, because beginner or expert, nature has more than a lifetime’s worth of things to teach us. If you’d like to chat with Gail, you can find her at twitter.com/missferran.

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I started a container garden on my balcony last year, which was, well, less than a success. The best thing that came out of it was one lonely pea pod. It tasted good, though :-). This summer I started a garden again. Fortunately, it was a better garden than last year’s but not as much of achievement I would have liked. Strangely I only got one lonely pea pod again.

However, I have learned a few things…

The first thing I’ve learned is to mark my containers. I think this will be very handy next year. I got really excited and planted a whole bunch of plants and had no idea what they were. Ok, it sound obvious to do that, but it didn’t really occur to me how important this would be.

I’ve discovered that you can get inexpensive pots and soil. Walmart is an option, especially at the end of the season. I got an awesome deal on soil that I took advantage of. The Dollar Store for pots and plant containers is an amazing resource. My mom has a tea pot that, if she wants to get rid of it, I will actually take and use for a decorative container.

Another thing that I learned was that I will have to start some plants in the house around early May. I live in Alberta, Canada and the weather is a) unpredictable and b) summer weather is very short. VERY SHORT. I think that if I start them inside, by the time I can plant outside, they will be mature enough to actually produce fruits and veggies. There’s been crazy weather here, even by our standards and plants need as much help as they can get. I’ve heard that it is very difficult for most plants to grow here and a lot of care is needed for them.

I’ve learned that I have to ask questions of other people who have knowledge of plants. I come from a family who have never gardened, so have never learned the nuances of gardening. One would think that you just put some dirt in a container, put a seed into it and water it every day. It’s just not that simple. There’s soil quality, insects, and such that must be taken into account. So I took the bull by it’s horns and joined the local horticultural society. I think next year I will also volunteer for some of the community gardens here..it can’t hurt!

In addition I’ve learned that I should put the same things in the same pot. I’m a bit stingy with seeds and so when I planted my chives, I put a little in one pot and put a little in another. This probably goes along with the “pot marking” issue as mentioned above. At any rate, I had a little clump of chives in one pot and a little clump in another. I must say, they taste good, but I could have put them in on container and put something else in the other.

I also learned this year that the sun is important. Very important. So, when I move next year, I know I want an apartment with a balcony facing the sun. I didn’t think about it when I first moved in here as I hadn’t learned about the joys of gardening at the time, but now it’s a high priority.

As for my pea plants, I’ve learned that a bigger container encourages them to grow. I actually have two that are growing right this minute…even in this colder weather we’re currently getting. I’m hoping they survive once I bring them in.I’d love to have more fresh peas!

With all that I’ve learned and will continue learning next year about container gardening, I know that there will be more containers on my balcony and a lot of Sun, Fun, Peas and Plants!

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