Since we were going all out trying to have as chemical-free and earth-friendly veggies as possible, synthetic fertilizer rich soil was not going to cut it.
After a few weekends of searching we found the Halifax Seed Company filled with fun gardening delights!! Since we didn't want any synthetic fertilizer, the nice lady informed us that we needed something to actually provide nutrient.... like WORM POO. Off we left with a bag of dirt-soil and organic worm castings... How they get certified organic worm poo I have no idea lol.
We scoured the city for some gravel, but since I was a little weary of taking from people's driveways (Andrew was all for it, but I said I'd rather take from "the man"... plus what if people saw??), we had nothing. While home during Easter weekend I braved the hail and rain on the ocean shore just infront of my brother's house and collected sea-rocks until my fingers went numb! It was fantastic! (My impromptu candle and Korean protective Statue given by a close friend before we moved to NS from BC)
We carefully planted each seed as per directions and Andrew was elected Thinning Captain, since I really don't have the heart to tear up plants (as evidenced by our previous mint and basil overcrowded disaster). This was in April when we still had a few snow-hail storms... haha. We were slightly premature, but kept the planters inside and watered them with nitrogen rich water from our fish tank. When it was warm enough during the day but still dipping below zero (celcius) at night, we put them out every day and carefully brought them inside at night. (the pea plants up close!)
Slowly our little plants have grown, garlic shoots springing up and out, cute delicate pea leaves, so so green with miniscule tendrils reaching up and out. Our carrots have been the slowest, needing courage to peak out their true carrot leaves with multiple edges; all the life occurring deep in the dark moist earth. It's been amazing to watch life take place in our care. This weekend, while visiting the Halifax Seed Company I saw some strawberry plants... MMmmm I LOVE strawberries. My parents have tiny wild strawberries that grow all over their lawn during the summer.
A total impulsive purchase, like candy on your way to the till to pay, we picked up the strawberries (Seascape- such a suited choice!), and a terra cotta planter and I nearly skipped to the cash. To be informed there were actually 25 individual plants in our pot... lol. The lady recommended we trade in for a *plastic* (oh well) multi-level planter. It took a bit more brain power, but today our strawberries, with the help of some cardboard, soil and worm poo, are a part of our urban garden! Looking at the forecast for the next week, there are a few lows dangerously close to zero, so we will continue to baby our precious plants until it's safe to leave them out all night. Currently Andrew is courageously working on a trellis made of bamboo shoots and cotton cooking string for the peas...
(me figuring out our strawberry planter)
So far our urban balcony garden experience has been not that difficult! Not a lot of weeding or tilling necessary. Hopefully the veggies will turn out alright, especially since we haven't been having wonderful farmer's market or food box experiences lately- we'll need them! Now if only we didn't have the attractive netting protecting our balcony from gifts of the pigeons... we could have hummingbirds and regular bird feeders! Someday :) For now I have a space that's shaping up to have peaceful and meditative qualities so we can sit and chill surrounded by nature and life when city-concrete gets to be a bit much. (Our pretty purple flowers!)