It’s dark out.

I find myself with enough energy and time in the evenings to put in some good garden time, but by this time it’s already dark out. DH is studying, and if I don’t find something else to do, I’ll end up logging some more hours with work.

So tonight, I think I’ll do a little history.

Once upon a time, there was a girl in an apartment. The apartment had a little balcony, maybe 5’x10′, that was south-facing. It was a second floor balcony, with an upstairs neighbor of the bamboo mat/wind chime variety, and a downstairs neighbor that rotated through from friendly drug dealer that kept to himself, to unfortunate alcoholic couple that started out loving us and ended up leaving us with a few sad stories, to a couple of newly weds who fought a fair bit (although less often and less vocally than the previous neighbors.)

Below the balcony was a small plot of land that used to house some grass and a tree. The grass had long since been shaded into packed dirt, and the tree left only a stump for some interesting fungus to feed upon. Across the strip of bare earth was a fence, and behind the fence – wilderness. Well, as wild of a wilderness as you can find in a suburb. Enough wilderness to get birds in the trees, squirrels digging around for acorns, and the occasional raccoon. Our first spring there revealed a lovely surprise – blub, burgle, bubble, gush.

There was a waterfall through the trees, just outside our bedroom window! When it rained, the water would rush over the small fall and make the most beautiful serenade to the spring days. We could walk out of our building, through the fence, and be at the waterfall in less than a minute. Sometimes you could even hear children laughing as they made their way to the pool at the bottom to wade.

This unexpected gift gave the girl a longing for nature like she hadn’t known in years. She and her DH would wander down the creek path and take pictures, hold hands, and talk of the future. The future that would hopefully include a home-home, as they called it, on land, with a large kitchen garden and an orchard surrounded by a low-slung stone wall with a gate.

Over the years, she’d carted along on her many moves a few green things. There was the cactus, Napoleon. There was Heidi, the Hydrangea, too.

Heidi had been in the “family” for nearly five years at this point. Never having blossomed, she earned her keep on hope alone.

She tried her hand at some edible plants for the first time as well. Rarely one to take the easy route as first choice, she started with seeds.


Who were split and transplanted into a strawberry pot…

Where they HATED it…and so were moved again¬†larger pots…

Where they got a little busy with the bees…

And then the sun worked its magic…

And that, dear readers, is the story of DH’s first balcony tomato! And just part of the beginning of the story that has gotten us here. This is also my first experience with Cherry Chadwick tomatoes. Just wait to read about what these tomatoes ended up accomplishing in their short lives.

Oh, and all I could find so far for a picture of Napoleon, has him in the bottom of this frame, poking up.

You can also see, on the right, that Heidi finally bloomed! She left the world after that bloom, but it got rather pink and lovely before she went.

Things I learned in those days: 

  • I honestly don’t know what would like to grow in a Strawberry Pot. The tomatoes hated it. Herbs hated it. Maybe strawberries would actually like it? Although I doubt it for how much water they seem to want.
  • Peat pots, are not my favorite. The roots struggle to bust out, and no matter what the label said, I never witnessed the netting composting naturally in the transplanted pot.
  • Balconies never yielded enough food to replace any store shopping, but there still isn’t any comparison to be made between a tomato still ripe from the sun.

Digging in the dirt!

Digging in the dirt doesn’t make for the most exciting of posts, or the prettiest of pictures.

I spent a few hours in our afternoon sunshine working on the Right Bed.

I started the initial double-digging of this fallow bed today. The intense web of grass roots made this slow going.

Slide the spade into the earth.








Thankfully, the soil in this bed feels lively! It’s loose, crumbly, a little sandy, and full of some healthy earthworms! I haven’t met soil like this before in Texas. It’s exciting to not have to start from scratch with the cloying, airless clay that is all so common in this area. During my digging, I unearthed an old 4″x4″. Pocked and soft with decay, I thought to give it one more task before the earth reclaimed it. The builders of the garden beds used some really nice cedar planks around the edges of the beds. Unfortunately, they left them floating just above the surface. This means that no matter how diligently I remove weed roots now, or weed later, the weeds will wriggle right under the walls and invade the garden. In an attempt to block (or at least dissuade) their wiley ways, I nestled the found board under the edging plank (you can just see it in the picture above.) Hopefully that works at least until next year.

So, what else is going on in this lovely weather?

The Borage has blossomed! If you’ve never grown Borage, I find it pretty, but it’s also pokey, and tends to spread, so be careful. Borage flowers taste a little like cucumber and can add a dollop of periwinkle to your salad, or I hear you can even make a medicinal tea.

My volunteer fern is also throwing out some food for the bees.

Isn’t that delicate and lovely? Last year was my first fern attempt (Ferns, in Texas? Yep. I’m a rebel.) I sowed them about this time last year, and not many of them came up. Then, early November, with the rain came the flower sprouts. I rather like having a little experimental bed for the flowers to reseed and see what does what. I’m doing just that with the little strip of earth in the back yard between the sidewalk to the patio and the back door. The builders thought to leave 12″ of green space between the foundation and the sidewalk. It’s also only about 4″-8″ deep, depending on where you dig.

There are many fun things (for me) about gardening, and one of them is to push myself to try new foods – or to have them available to me for the first time. Most recently, I’d only had peas in their frozen or canned form. I managed to right that wrong just yesterday. My first garden peas! (First for me as a gardener, and for eating.)

I thought they tasted great – like if peas and freshly cut grass popped in your mouth. These were simply labeled “English Peas” on their seed packet.