I'm not sure when I decided I wanted to start gardening, but I do know that for the last year or so I've been putting it off. I'd been attending grad classes, working as a UH writing mentor, being the News Editor of Ka Leo, and holding down a part-time cashiering job, which left me little time to work on domestic projects like a garden. Mostly the idea existed as a comforting thought before I'd fall asleep at night after a long day.
Since last August I was living in a rented, delightfully ramshackle house in Mililani with lots of yard space. My first attempts at gardening were enthusiastic but uninformed, and with my busy schedule and daily commute to UH, I wasn't around often enough to take care of things. Something ate my Manoa lettuce entirely, my basil and mint dried up, and my swiss chard and tomato seedlings were planted too close together to grow to maturity. But the green onions took hold, and I did harvest a crop of radishes and pickle them using my great-grandmother's recipe. So there were good times.
My boyfriend and I planned to build a raised garden bed in the yard this summer, and I had started a compost pile that I planned to recommit myself to tending. But then my boyfriend and I broke up. We're both having to rework our plans.
I moved into an apartment with my best friend in Makiki, which has a balcony that gets partial sunlight for most of the day and is very windy. In this less-ideal environment, I've started my garden. Better to act than to wait on plans.
Here's what I've got going on now. First, the survivors:
1. green onions in a long planter box, with the recent addition of some old shallots that were sprouting in the refridge (I admired their audacity)
2. tomato refugee--the lone plant that survived the little tomato holocaust I initiated when I stopped watering the cramped tomato seedlings that weren't going to fruit. Amazingly, this plant has produced three cherry tomatoes so far.
3. baby swiss chard that I should probably harvest for a salad or something
4. Natalie's earthbox with a basil and strawberry plant that I've nursed back to semi-health. The pepper plant and an unknown herb that are also in the box look like they won't be recovering.
Next, the refugees from Natalie's boyfriend's house:
1. baby papaya plant
2. two unknown citrus trees in buckets
3. four unknowns
4. strawberry plant that seems to be fairing well
5. the edible weed that he's so proud of, which is dying, if not dead
The new additions:
1. The taro plant, which I feel like needs to be repotted
2. the sprouts/microgreens in the plastic tray that are ready to be cut for a salad or sandwich
3. new seedlings of okra, eggplant, mint, and basil that I just planted in pots that will hopefully be big enough for them. These I'm feeling optimistic about, as they seem to be growing, and they generally look happy.
4. two long planters of radishes that I planted from seed. They've sprouted and are looking good so far. They should be ready to harvest in less than a month. I'm going to make more pickles, hopefully this time using the leaves too, the way my grandma does.
5. a pot of soil that I planted a few jalapeno seeds in last Thursday. So far there's been no sprouting, and I'm a bit worried that maybe a bird ate the seeds?
1. two orchids. I need to figure out how often to water them.
2. a spanish moss lei that natalie insists will grow on the railing if we sprits it with water. I guess I should get a spray bottle. OR--I'll reuse my next empty leave-in conditioner spray bottle.
I've been referring a lot to http://www.yougrowgirl.com/ and her books, which I got last christmas as presents. I like her can-do attitude.
These are my upcoming projects:
2. start tomato seedlings in saved toilet paper tubes and eventually transplant them into natalie's second earthbox.
3. start growing red potatoes in a bucket or other large container
4. string beans and cucumbers. I want to make kim chi cucumbers, which I just semi-learned how to make from my Korean Aunty.
The compost scares me most of all, as I don't want to screw up and end up making some kind of smelly or otherwise unwieldy mess on the balcony. But I guess without the composting of waste materials, this garden thing is going to become another wasteful and expensive hobby.
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