Welcome back! Last time, I had shared a bunch about how I started an urban garden, and ya know, have a new appreciation for farmers and love my green beans that I have a bunch of. Today, is all about my challenges. There’s been so many bumps in this road that it’s comparable to Montreal’s infamous pothole problem.
I want to start by saying that despite the difficult periods, I am loving this new hobby. I’ve really come around to the idea of spending a bit more free time on it. After all, it’s a hobby! Hobbies are activities you enjoy and do in your free time! For me to think that I wouldn’t want to spend too much time on it was silly and misguided. The fact that I get yummy food out of it is a gigantic bonus.
Before I started, I had no idea how much/how often I should be watering my plants. I still really don’t. I kind of go with whether or not they look dry, if we’ve had a lot of rain recently or if the leaves have started becoming yellow or brown. I was trying to water them about everyday which was super time consuming, but fully necessary when it was hot. I saw a way online that then altered my watering game for good! Basically, I now use a self-watering system using glass bottles. I had a stash of old clean glass bottles from a sparkly juice that I love. I filled them up with water and dug a small hole into the side of the pot beside the plants stalks. This allows for the roots to drink up the water whenever they need. This has made my watering go from every day to about every 3 to 4 days. I can now go away for a weekend without having them wilt or worry that they’ll die. I do still water the plants manually using a small hose and a bucket, but the self-watering system has really cut down my need.
On the watering front came another challenge that I did not anticipate. Being on the second floor, I did not realize the impact of the weight on the structure of the balcony. Originally, I had all my buckets lined up against my railing, it was super cute and would have been very easy to maintain the way I had it. Within 24 hours, my landlord came out and was like “Hey, sooo, you need to move your plants. The balcony has no support in the middle (between my apartment and the neighbors) and the gallery is starting to droop.” I never even realized that it would be so heavy, but thinking it over, between the dirt and the water, I understood. I had to move just under half the buckets to my front gallery to even out the weight. I also moved the remainder from the railing, to right beside the brick wall where the gallery met the outside of the apartment. It all worked out in the end, but it was a bit stressful, I thought that after all the work I had put into it, he was going to ask me to get rid of them. I would have cried!
A small something I noticed was the importance of LABELLING YOUR SPROUTS! My goodness! With all the excitement I faced (Yes, excitement! I loved the beginning stages!) I totally forgot to label what I was growing. When everything started to really grow, I was all. ‘Hmmm, I wonder what you are!’ There’s still a few that I’m questioning. Eventually they show and you can figure it out, but it would remove A LOT of the guess work that I had. For example, I thought I was growing broccoli, turns out its peas! The peas had these tiny flowers budding and it reminded me of the tops of broccoli! After they all budded, the peas started growing and I’m all… UMM you’re not broccoli! IMPOSTER! It’s turned into quite a big inside joke and I smile every time I look at them. J But yeah, for the future, label what you’re growing!
Some more trouble I had was at the beginning stages in keeping it 100% Zero Waste. Aside from the packages from the seeds that you read about in part 1 of this blog, I had no clue where to get dirt that did not come in a plastic bag. I still don’t. *If you know how to get plastic free dirt in the city please feel free to email me. I’d love to know!* I had bought the largest bags of dirt that I could find, in hopes that it would be a smaller amount of plastic instead of buying a whole bunch of small bags. It really bothered me at the beginning. If I had a downstairs apartment or my own yard it could have been different. But that’s not the case and I did the best job I thought I could at the time. I did decide however that next year, I’ll attempt to re-add some nutrients to this soil (using fertilizer and compost) in an effort to reuse the dirt.
I’ve found that I really need to weight the good from the bag with this project.
|Plastic bags for the dirt||Attempt to reuse the product for years to come. Which will eliminate MORE waste from packaging.|
|Plastic buckets to hold the plants|
|Seeds from packaging|
|Glass bottles to water the plants.
|Saved from recycling plant and made them into a multiuse tool, instead of an almost single use item.|
I know it may seem like I’m making excuses, but the reality was that this was not a fully Zero Waste project and I am content with the progress that I’ve made. Now I get the most local vegetables I could possibly ask for. They are organic and fresh and steps away from my kitchen. All these things make me incredibly happy. Legit, I make supper, run outside and grab some beans (and now, cucumbers!), give them a quick rinse and throw them into my supper! It’s amazing! Did I also mention how tasty the veggies are! Because they are! I’ve also grown so many beans that I bring them to suppers as small gifts. People tend to like small gifts and I like that it was an easy gesture to make someone happy.
Those are my challenges to date. Be sure to come back and read part 3 of this blog once more veggies start to show. I can’t wait to share some awesome Urban Garden based recipes with all of you! YUM!
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