Friday, April 27, 2012

Gardening with no space

For the past 3 years, we've been gardening behind our carport in our apartment complex.  Nothing really ever came from it.  I think it's a combination of bugs, bad soil, and not enough sunlight.   We got just enough to encourage us to try again with some adjustments.

This year, we decided to just do potted plants on our balcony.  It's turning out a lot better than I imagined (we even got one more strawberry than we did last year!).  Let me preface this post by saying that our apartment gets a lot of sun, which is why when it's 75 degrees and beautiful outside, our apartment heats up into the 90s.  We figured the corner of our building gets the most sun.  It sees the morning sun and is definitely in the blaring afternoon sun (until past 7p).  We might as well see if we can take advantage of it!

We started our garden in the middle of March.  It was super cold and windy (for the Bay Area at least) after we planted that we didn't know if our plants would survive.  The poor tomato plant was looking very sad for a few weeks.

J scooping in the soil.

Luckily, with the warmer weather, the tomato plant has begun to thrive.  I'm hoping we get more than our crop last year, 2 tomatoes - which ended up disappearing before they ripened.  We decided to gamble on the 50/50 reviews of the Topsy Turvy for the tomatoes.  Most of the negative reviews on Amazon were from warmer climates (like AZ).  Our particular bag explicitly stated that it won't work in warmer climates.  We'll see how it goes, and I'll report back whether it was worth the $10 (we would have had to buy a pot, most likely more expensive one at that, anyways).

Gardening from a seed:
-Learn what it takes for a seed to grow (soil, water, sunlight)
-Hopefully eat what you grow!  Learn where food really comes from.
-Start the discussion on nutrition.
-For older kids, you might try to introduce the concept of photosynthesis, converting sunlight into energy to help the plant grow.  We eat food to give us energy.  The plants take the sun as their "food" that they need.
-For older kids, take measurements of your plants and track your progress.  Create a nice line graph/plot by hand or via a favorite spreadsheet program.  See if you can guess how big it will get.

I found these grow kits at Target in the $1 section.  I figured it would be fun for J.  Plus, I never grew sunflowers, so it would be a learning experience for me.

The kits came with an "add water" pellet to make soil, which I thought was interesting.

Once hydrated, J stirred it and potted his own plants.

We then put them on a window seal and sprayed them with water daily to keep them "moist".

I loved that sunflowers germinated (popped up) so quickly!  Within 2 days, we were seeing growth.

When they reached ~2.5 inches tall (~2 weeks), we transplanted them into a bigger pot that now sits in the sunlight.  We rotate the pot frequently to try to evenly distribute the light between the plants.  I honestly don't know what kind of sunflowers these are, so it'll be a surprise to see how big they get.

Sunflowers, week 5

And yes, we (well, J) enjoyed our first strawberry yesterday!  Woohoo for an unseasonably warm week in April to jump-start our berry season. Our strawberry planter that we love: Akro-Mils Mini Stack-A-Pot, 14-Quart (affiliate link).

J enjoyed it so fast that we didn't get a picture of him eating it.  But it sure looked delicious!

1 comment:

  1. Fun! My sister used to live in CA, and she even grew grapes in pots!