Balcony Gardening

For two or three years now, I’ve said I’ve gotten into gardening, but that’s always accompanied by the explanation that gardening to me means getting my dad to drive us to the store, me pointing at plants, him buying them, and after driving us back home, him planting and continuing to water the plants. About the only thing I do is stare at the plants impatiently, waiting for something to grow, and picking them when the vegetables are ripe.

Now that I live in Montreal, my luxurious/faux gardening no longer an option, I excitedly tried my hand at growing plants on my balcony. It was a lot of help thanks to a girl who I work with who has lived in Montreal for five years and gardens intensively. She gave me a lot of tips and notes, such as buying seedlings from McGill’s MacDonald campus since they’re cheap and support the school. She also steals election signs (following elections) since the plastic perforated board is great for making false bottoms in containers. Since I’m starting from scratch, I made my friend take the metro to Canadian Tire to wander around and point at bags of soil, wondering what the difference between potting soil and vegetable soil and soil bags with flowers on them was. We only knew that our parents tended to put top soil on yards and grass, not necessarily potted plants.

Eventually we got one bag that promised it was great for vegetables and another bag that had pictures of flowers, and in each of my containers, I mixed them. As usual, I don’t care if it isn’t protocol; everything seems to be growing fine.


The two white ceramic pots were so cute and the black rims are painted with chalkboard paint so that you can label them. Super cute, but ultimately quite useless because a) Whoops, I don’t have chalk here?? and b) They have no drainage… My rosemary, which wants great drainage, is rather unhappy now (also, I went back to Mississauga for a week or so and neglected all my plants), but I’m not posting a photo of unhappy plants.


I guess function is supposed to trump cuteness, at least when it comes to taking care of living things

And I mean, it’s not a BIG deal, but the moment I got home after buying my seedlings from a farmers market, I forgot if my pepper plant was growing spicy or sweet peppers. I do know that it grows super pretty purple flowers though, so what does it matter if I have little to no idea what I’m growing?

IMG_20150524_115725My lavender is doing pretty well, too! Which is a bit of a surprise because after I went to a lavender farm last year, I decided I loved lavender, I wanted to grow some this year, and then never looked into how to take care of them. I have a decently deep container for it, but honestly, even now (and I’ve had the plant for at least a month) I’m not sure how much sun or water is ideal. I just know that it’s growing so I’m going to continue as is and not question anything.


My cucumber really isn’t growing, but I know that’s entirely my fault. I had bought a container of six and made my mom take some, so five cucumber plants are in the garden at home. My mom’s have some flowers and mini cucumbers growing, while mine is still trying to let its vine things climb around things. It’s not necessarily only that my green thumb isn’t as good as my mom’s, but that I decided after I planted the majority of my plants that I needed more soil to accommodate my even newer plants (which were definitely excessive at that point). I bought a big bag of soil, emptied it into two containers, and then added it to my already potted plants… but digging up my plants, putting them to the side (one at a time) and dumping some new soil under them. I could hear sticks and roots being broken, but I already started so obviously I had to finish. So I guess…. another lesson is buy a sufficient amount of soil at the beginning and don’t try to add from the bottom after you’ve let your plants settle for a week or two.


Yes, I recognize how little soil that was.


My one growing sweet/spicy pepper, with to-be red tomatoes in the back. I’ve got lots of purple flowers, but only one nice pepper so far.

Another thing you should also prep before you dump everything in: drainage. A lot of sites tell you to ensure you have good and proper drainage or else you could get root rot. Of course i looked this up after I planted everything and err, after a big storm had come and I noticed my containers with a decent amount of water. Soooo… I took a pair of kitchen scissors and dug one hole into my containers. They sit at angles now so that whenever it rains, the excess water can slowly drain out of that one hole. I mean, my containers are still useable and my plants probably won’t (maybe?) get root rot, so whatever works, right??

I went to a market (Jean Talon) a couple of weeks ago (and bought a small venus fly trap that promptly died because I left for a week without watering or feeding it, but it was cool for the days I had it). A lot of places sold squirrel-deterrent plants, which I could have gotten and could have saved me a bit of strife. There was one morning I went out and looked at my plants and saw that my yellow cherry tomato plant had six super adorable tomatoes growing.


That night I had friends over and we were drinking on my balcony when I looked over and saw that only one, the smallest one, of the tomatoes remained. My friends don’t garden so they didn’t truly understand, but these were my little joys. Worse, the fucking animal left its stolen goods on my balcony with one bite taken out of each of the tomatoes. Of course they aren’t good, they’re not fucking done growing, you piece of shit. I swear it’s the same squirrel that keeps coming back the past few days that I’ve been chasing away. It even had the audacity to jump into my big container of plants to dig. (I know it’s an animal trying to survive, but seriously, the audacity of it)

The good thing, however, is that my aforementioned friend told me that you can put your hair on and around your plants and that should deter squirrels because it smells humans. So every day I’ve been wishing I still had long hair and I go outside to comb my hair and drop it everywhere. Not only that, but I’ve leaned my chairs around my container in hopes of deterring that squirrel further. So far, so good.

DSC_0986In the container: sweet or spicy peppers; Tiny Tim tomatoes (like red cherry tomatoes but a shorter plant); cucumber. Yellow cherry tomatoes. Spinach. Lavender.


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