2016 - Final Garden
This marked the last year I would garden in my 4.5ft x 8ft south-west facing condo patio but at the time I didn't know it. This was the most pivotal gardening year for me as I experienced extreme highs and lows: joy and frustration but never defeat.
There are a lot of challenges growing in a condo other than size: we had high winds and an overhang that didn't allow the plants to enjoy the benefits of rain. Despite this I tried, and I tried hard. With the previous year's failure in growing crops, I focused on ornamentals. With a fury.
Starting From Scratch
Sowing Seeds for the First Time
By far as rewarding as it is frustrating. The seeds you see didn't all make it: the calendula succumbed to a wispy death and the pole beans didn't quite thrive past this stage. What did flourish were the leafy greens and 'Heavenly Blue' morning glories. About the easiest things from seed you could grow are leafy greens: I recommend spring mix and kale.
Growing Bulbs Indoors
I also tried growing dahlias though sprouted them much too early, and without grow lights so they were very spindly to start. They eventually toughened outdoors.
I grew one packet from a local dollar store, and another from a reputable nursery. I found they performed the same.
saving for next year
I always buy tulips at the start of spring, and decided I would try to save the bulbs for next year (though the chances of flowers on a forced-bloom bulb are low the first year). I also dried out some ranunculus corms, enjoying how something that looked so alien produced such beautiful flowers.
Summary of the Patio
I worked on growing more vertically, using the existing gates around us as trellises for vines. The Ikea Socker plant stand served us well in this regard (it's discontinued now). Our trusty seating bench also doubled as a storage unit and was where I hid all my tools: multi-functional furniture was key in small space gardening.
Hanging Baskets and Stacking
I embellished the gates with hanging baskets all along the perimeter, maximizing planting space. Instead of a table for coffee, I stacked a plant stand with additional containers, elevating them so they would reach maximum light. This space was a dedicated garden first, not so much a place we would have lunch. Not greatly elegant, but it worked fantastic for growing, which was all I cared about.
By the time September rolled around, everything was overgrown and unruly. I think at this time all I wanted was the entire patio to be engulfed in greenery, to simply forget I was in a concrete box and for a moment it worked. Although the leaves were becoming malnourished, I spent every last day enjoying my morning coffee, hidden from neighbors in a sea of leaves that were getting yellower and yellower. Eventually the vines succumbed to the cold and I was left visible.
Although flower power was what I focused on, I had great success with Scarlett Runner beans, which is a well-rounded plant: beautiful and edible. The mint as always, was reliable and petunias never fail. There are a lot of notes from this growing experience I brought to my new rooftop garden, as a nod to this momentus year.
You can view the photos from this gardening here under #thatsatinygarden