Not To Be Trusted With Knives

The Internet’s leading authority on radicalized geese

By

The Return of High Garden

One of my favourite things about summer is growing food on my balcony – I like to refer to my little balcony oasis as High Garden (as my condo is on the 10th floor and I’m a Game of Thrones fan.)

And my garden seems to get bigger and better every year. This year we actually are fertilizing on the regular and, who knew?, fertilizing really helps the plants grow1.

This year we decided to plant a few vegetables:

  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • onions
  • potatoes
  • spinach

and some herbs:

  • rosemary
  • chives
  • thyme
  • marjoram
  • savory
  • mint
  • oregano
  • dill
  • parsley

and, of course, the cat garden:

  • cat grass
  • cat mint
  • cat nip

Planted on May 15, 2018:

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

High Garden - 2018

June 16:

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

June 26:

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

Starting to see some flowers on the cucumber plant

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

High Garden 2018

Potato and tomato plants looking quite full of leaves!

June 28:Savory & Oregano

Cucumber flowers

Cucumber flowers

Potato flowers

Flowers on the potato plant

We’ve been eating herbs all throughout the summer – I use them in homemade salad dressing, scrambled eggs, with various meats on the BBQ, etc. We managed to get enough dill to make a delicious dill dip, but then the dill plant died. The savoury plant looked pretty grim from the time we planted it and never really took. The parsley, which I planted from seed (all the rest were seedlings), didn’t grow at all.

The cucumber plant ended up only yielding two cucumbers, but they were big:

Cucumber that grew in High Garden!

The spinach plants yielded enough to make a small spinach salad for each of us (I’m not convinced it was more than the amount of spinach leaves on the seedlings we originally planted!):

Spinach salad - made with spinach from High Garden!

Last week when my friend Kim and her boyfriend Tad came over for dinner, we made mint juleps with mint from High Garden:

Mint juleps
Yes, I realize that those are Moscow mule mugs, not mint julep cups. I don’t have any mint julep cups, so the mule mugs had to suffice! And suffice they did – they were pretty darn tasty – a very refreshing drink on a hot day!

Tonight’s dinner included these three potatoes (which popped up above the surface – there are still more to harvest):

Potatoes

and this onion was sautéed to go with our steaks:

Onion

All in all, I’d say it was a successful growing season for High Garden. I’m kind of sad that summer is coming to an end though (as evidenced by leaves on trees changing colour and Halloween candy appearing in the local grocery stores) – I’ll have to enjoy the last bit of my garden while I can!

  1. The answer is everybody. Everybody knew. []

By

Stuff I’m Learning This Year: Growing potatoes on my balcony edition

Last year when I made my herb garden, I learned that one could grow potatoes on their balcony. I didn’t get to try it out last year due to travel and balcony power washing that happened, but decided I would do it this summer. Fast forward to the May long weekend – Scott and I set out to buy some seedlings to plant this year’s herb garden and while at the store, I remembered the potato thing! I hadn’t remembered early enough to actually sprout some potatoes on my own, but fortunately one can purchase “potato seeds” (which are little potatoes that have been sprouted).

Potato seeds

Basically, you cut a bit off of the potato, put some dirt in a bag, and bury the potato cut side down.

Potato seed

Cutting the potato seed before planting

Growing potatoes on my balcony

Growing potatoes on my balcony

After about a week, you see the plant sprouting above the surface, and then you dump more dirt on it to cover the sprouts and let it grow another four weeks. And then you have potatoes!

As you can see, my potato plants are sprouting quite nicely:

June 4:

Potato plants are growing!

June 10:

Potatoes

June 14:

IMG_5865

Also, the bag that I bought to grow the potatoes in has am opening, which I’m assuming is to make it easier to harvest the potatoes when they are ready. However, such a bag also doubles as an excellent astronaut costume (as long as it is before you put the dirt in it):

Potato growing bag doubles as a spacesuit!

Since I still had more potato seeds, so I decided to get myself another bag to grow a second batch. But since the space suit potato bag appeared to be made out of the same material as Ikea bags, we decided to just buy an Ikea bag for less than $1 and cut a hole in the bottom of it!

Planted on June 4:

Planting balcony potatoes - second batch

June 10:

Potatoes
June 14:

Potatoes
In addition to growing potatoes, also picked up a bunch of seedlings to make this year’s herb garden1. For the record, this year’s garden consists of:

  • chives
  • cilantro
  • dill
  • marjoram
  • mint
  • oregano
  • rosemary
  • sage
  • tarragon
  • thyme
  • tomatoes
  • jalapeño
  • strawberries

Balcony Herb Garden

First strawberry of the season

Strawberries

Balcony Herb GardenDoes anyone know why this tomato is called a “mortgage lifter?”

Also, while we were picking up seedlings, we discovered that the garden store was selling  cat grass seedlings. And seedlings of variegated cat grass. And cat nip seedlings. So guess who got their own little garden?

Watson & Crick love their new cat garden

You can’t see it in the photos, but the cats are wearing harnesses and leashes because I don’t want them falling off the balcony!

I also toyed with the idea of growing a hipster garden when I saw that you could buy kale, quinoa, and stevia seedlings, but decided that the cost in money, effort, and space on the balcony would outweigh the joke. Of course, if I had, I would have to have bought the “craft” compost:Hipster dirt

Anyhoo, like last year, I’m enjoying having fresh herbs to cook with, as well as enjoying watching the garden grow! And I’m really excited to get to harvest some potatoes!

  1. I didn’t find a way to bring last summer’s herb garden inside, given that my cats would eat it all and that I really don’t have anywhere to put it all, so I had to make a new garden from scratch. []

By

I Never Promised You An Herb Garden

One of the things on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days that I achieved last year was to make an herb garden for my balcony. But “make” in that case actually meant “buy a premade one and put it on my balcony”. Now, don’t get me wrong – it was a lovely herb garden that I got at Granville Island and it was a great deal – $13 for 5 different herbs! And while I enjoyed cooking with those herbs, the winter was not kind to them (nor was my neglect) and so now that the weather has warmed up enough for me to want to be on my balcony again, I decided to actually make an herb garden this year. Where “make” means “buy some plants, buy some dirt, buy some containers, and then put said dirt and plants in said containers”. And here is what I made:

My new herb garden

My new herb garden

This year’s herbs include:

  • rosemary
  • thyme
  • marjoram
  • sage
  • oregano
  • basil
  • chives
  • cilantro
  • and a jalapeño plant

I made this three weekends ago and I’ve already made roasted potatoes with fresh rosemary; pasta sauce with fresh rosemary, thyme, marjoram, sage, oregano, and basil; guacamole with fresh cilantro; and scrambled eggs with the chives a couple of times!

My new herb garden

My new herb garden
My new herb garden

My new herb garden

My new herb garden

My new herb garden

My new herb garden

My new herb garden

My new herb garden

Several of the plants have grown significantly since I took those photos (especially the marjoram, the cilantro, and the jalapeño plant, but the basil is not looking so hot. If anyone has tips on growing basil, let me know!

I think I’d like to also get a tomato plant, and maybe some parsley. Plus, I need to investigate a thing I learned about recently: a potato barrel.

I’m going to try to be more diligent in taking care of my herb garden this year. Speaking of which, I know that I need to water it regularly in the summer, but does anyone know what I should do to keep it alive over the winter?