Note: This post was scheduled to go out last week, April 8. However, I was excited to post about the washable masks, and so pushed this back to this week. All plants have since taken off!! Please check out my Instagram, @thesewanderingroots, to see them in their glory!
I am a hobby gardener at best. This is something I have finally come to terms with this year. A lifetime ago, when I was still in NYC, and imagining my future life, I envisioned a little homestead, off-the-grid, self-sufficient, well-stocked garden, chickens, rabbits, maybe a sheep or too. My nightstand books were Made From Scratch by Jenna Woginrich and Apartment Gardening by Amy Pennington, and I devoured them, night after night. They were my theory textbooks, and my hands-on practice came in the form of windowsills, full of leggy herbs started from supermarket fresh herb packs, and sprouted mung beans and chick peas on the counter.
10 years later, I’ve added a couple family members and live in a different country, but not much else has changed. My windowsills still house supermarket cuttings, and my gardening is still largely theoretical (though my library has expanded). I managed to grow a couple of cherry tomato and cucumber plants on the balcony last year, but that quickly was put on the back burner when DD was born.
This year I was inspired, however. I’ve realized I’ve been living in the if-onlys when it comes to gardening. If only I had a larger balcony…If only we had more money…If only I had a garden plot. But I want my daughter to grow up knowing where her food comes from, or, barring that, at least how it grows wherever it grows. There also comes a time when the theoretical can only take you so far. So, for better or worse, when our local nursery was having an early bird seed sale in January, I bought some seeds.
Which turned out to be a better idea than I could have imagined back in winter! While our 4.5 square meter (roughly 50 sq ft) balcony and a couple of well lit windowsills will hardly grow enough food to fully keep our family in produce, it is at least a start. And while the pandemic makes people weary of buying produce or anything that has to be transported, it is nice to know there will be a few meals accounted for this summer.
It has also been nice to get some true hands on experience. From researching the growing climate in Sweden and finding the last frost date for my region, to sketching a plot of my balcony and planning where to put everything, to finally getting my fingers in some potting soil, I can read all the books I want, but it’s nothing compared to the lessons learned from my own accomplishments.
And mistakes! So far my journey has already instilled a sense of patience. I started some seeds in February, such as some Peppers. One pepper start came up within a week, and was flourishing, so when, two weeks later, the other pot was still bare, I went ahead and sowed a handful of basil seeds. THE NEXT DAY, that pepper plant emerged. I’ve left them so far, and plan to move the basil in the tomato when I transplant them to bigger pots. We’ll see if the pepper survives…
All this isn’t to say I don’t still dream of my half acre homestead, of livestock and a garden, and of the sense of self-sufficiency that it all inspires. Even this growing season will see many more changes, as I start more plants, and start to see my balcony get a little greener. But right now, I can truly say that it is a wonderful feeling to wake up in the morning, and see these little plants in the window as I make the morning coffee. Baby steps, you know.