The post this week is going to be a little free-form. I’ve got a folder of blog post ideas that I’ve been working from, but as I’ve been working on them, I have been continuously distracted by the green glory that is happening in the apartment right now! The spring weather has finally come to Skara, and my apartment garden is looking a lot different than it did during the first glory days update. So I decided to lean into it and just write about what’s happening in this little apartment homestead.
From what I understand, this spring has been unseasonably cold in a lot of places, and this has been true here as well. Our estimated last frost date this year was May 1st, which already seems rather late for this southern girl’s bones. We had a stretch of quite warm weather right around that time, which was a balm for the soul and for the soil. The 10-day forecast predicted above freezing temperatures, so I started the process of hardening off my tomatoes and peppers (acclimating the plants to outdoor sun and wind).
But then an unexpected cold snap came, and so we are back to windowsill garden rows for a bit! As you can see, the garden on the windowsill is getting a bit out of hand…
We’ve supported the tomatoes with simple 1.5 meter (~5 ft) bamboo poles, though I think we’re going to have to change that to 2 meter (~6 1/2 ft) poles if they get much taller. After re-potting the seedlings, we learned that tomatoes don’t really like to “hold hands”, so I’ve been a little concerned with how closely we’ve planted them, and have tried to off-set this by extending the support poles in opposite directions. They’ve started to set flowers, so this is encouraging. Hopefully they will survive the move outside.
The basil has yet to really take off, but we’ve been aggressively pruning it (thank you, Friday sourdough pizza nights!), so there are a lot of leaf buds starting. Hopefully the basil plants will get nice and full.
Dear Hubby has been researching pepper pruning, so the peppers may seem quite small in comparison to the tomatoes, but they are getting so full and bushy! I started these relatively late (at the end of February, though the seed packet recommended January). We’ve still got awhile before they are expected to set fruit, but we have seen a few flowers.
Cucumbers being warm weather plants, their seed packets all recommended planting after the estimated last frost. So the first weekend in May I got super psyched, hurried to the garden store, and bought pots, a couple of seed varieties, and even an 8-inch plant start (also called a seedling, transplant, or starter) to get a head start…only to come home and realize I only had enough soil to fill one pot, and I’d already spent that month’s garden supply budget…
So I planted the existing start (a European long cucumber variety called “Fitness”), which is doing quite well. Now I’m just waiting for the 25th to go and buy more soil (insert faceplant emoji here).
Another part of last month’s garden budget went towards these two mint starts. Since we’ve been expanding our windowsill/balcony homestead beyond flowers into one that provides food for the table, we’ve been splurging more on larger pots, since the bigger the pot, the more food one can grow. Thus I had several small-ish pots (about 6-8 inches / 15-20 cm diameter) that I just didn’t know what to do with. I sent out a call to the Instagram/Facebook hive mind, and several people suggested mint. My husband and I both love mint tea, and peppermint and spearmint are two of my favorite herbs to use in body oils and balms, so this sounded like a great idea.
As it happened, my local gardening store, Skara Blomsterland was having a discount on herbs. I didn’t find any peppermint or spearmint, BUT I did find a chocolate mint and a pineapple mint. Before you ask, the pineapple definitely has a different smell/taste than your typical mint, though I wouldn’t necessarily say pineapple. The chocolate one though…mmm, it’s like a thin mint on a stem.
These are such sweet little plants! I’ve been fascinated to see how they grow, with their tightly folded leaves emerging from the main stem, getting bigger, then finally springing open.
We built the trellis using 1- and 2-meter long bamboo poles, with green gardening wire as extra support. Hubby then secured the trellis to the balcony railing and support beam with zipties. Perhaps a little MacGuyver meets Home Depot Garden Center, but it works for us! And if the peas fill out as much as I hope, hello edible privacy screen!
We’ve been harvesting leaves pretty steadily off the lettuces I planted earlier this spring. With such a small amount, it hasn’t really been enough for a salad, but they are nice to add to various meals as a little bit of extra greens, and Hubby has been having them on his sandwiches. I have plans to use the other small pots to succession-grow lettuce, planting each pot about 2-5 days apart, then having a continuous harvest of micro greens to supplement our salads this summer.
So there you have it. These Wandering Roots Apartment Homestead “garden tour” for May 2020. The blue cornflower didn’t survive unfortunately, and I haven’t planted any other flowers yet. My dream was to have railing boxes filled with a mix of flowers for pollinators as well as medicinal flowers such as calendula and chamomile, but those railing boxes are pretty pricey, so they may be a next year thing.
Regardless of how the plans change, one thing’s for sure. I am just glad to have taken the leap this year. It may be small, it may not feed us completely or even substantially, but I’ve decidedly dipped my fingers in the soil.