The Great Garden Cleanup

My shame: the balcony before the Great Clean

I have no idea how I did it, but I cleaned up a lot of junk. My garden is on my wooden fire escape/balcony (apparently Chicagoans have forgotten all about the Great Fire). The majority of the space on the balcony (where one could put a chair, a tiny grill, or maybe a chair hammock with a tiny table for holding your drink when you’re not sipping it while enjoying the breeze and a good book) has been blockaded by a pile of junk. And it’s all garden junk. No hammocks that allow you to dream you’re in the tropics. Nope. No room for the boy’s grill. Just dirt & containers. Oh, and a cooking pot that’s been out there since I burned some food in it awhile back.

Inside, I’ve had a raised bed that I rescued from the alley. It’s been sitting next to my desk since last fall- one side filled with dirt & the other with gardening goods. I kept meaning to move it to its rightful place on the balcony, but just couldn’t bring myself to spend the time cleaning off the balcony.

I’m really bad at throwing things out- surely I can use it at some point in the future! Surely? Indubitably!

But last week I decided enough was enough. I threw out bags of stuff I won’t be using & really don’t want to haul around whenever I next move. This was all prompted by an exciting arrival- new seeds! Burgundy okra, purple black eyed peas, black cherry tomatoes, stupice tomatoes, Siberian kale, oriental giant spinach, red bunching onions, French breakfast radishes, some French name type of snow peas!

So I set to work with an insane (no idea where it came from) burst of energy & motivation. I even did laundry & some light cleaning in the bathroom & kitchen. Afterwards, I gave my boyfriend leave to call me SuperMari.

The tidy & amazing work of SuperMari: a clean balcony

I planted all of the seeds I got in somewhat tidy rows (although some ended up in unpictured containers). This was late last week. Today, I noticed that things had started to sprout! I’ve got some kale, radishes & okra coming up! Can you tell I’m excited? But don’t worry, I won’t bore you with several shots of blurry seedlings in vast fields of dirt.

Asian mesclun lettuce mix, one month after sowing & a little bit of thinning

Meanwhile, here’s what the lettuce I planted about a month ago looks like after a small thinning. I’m really torn: global warming is bad, but I love this weather! Let’s just hope the summer is not blistering hot & dry.

If you want info on where I got my seeds, continue reading.

For Christmas I got a gift certificate to Landreth Seed Company, purportedly the oldest seed house in America. They have a great selection of Heirloom seeds & a GORGEOUS catalog.

I meant to order seeds a log time ago, only problem was I couldn’t redeem my gift certificate. My work/school schedule meant it was almost impossible to call them during regular business hours. So I left a voicemail & sent them an e-mail after searching their site for instructions. Months went by & I got no answer. After my schedule opened up a bit more, I called them during regular business hours.Here’s the skinny for ordering from them with a gift certificate: during online checkout click the pay with check option & leave your certificate number in the comments. If your order goes over the certificate amount you can also leave your credit card number in the comments.

Why am I telling you all of this when much of my experience with them was negative? They do seem to be a genuinely good business & the time it took to get my seeds was incredible. I ordered on a Tuesday & got them by Thursday!

Only other thing is their delivery costs are expensive- About $12 if you order more than five packets of seeds, even though the USPS package I received listed the cost of postage around $5 (and I’m pretty sure the padded enveloped it was shipped in didn’t cost $7).

But, they ship fast, they have good quality seed & you’ll be supporting a small business that’s been struggling. And if you only order five packets of seeds the shipping is around $5, which is not bad.


6 thoughts on “The Great Garden Cleanup

  1. I love your container garden. It’s amazing how much you can pack into a small space. I’m inspired to go out and tidy up my space. Thanks for sharing your beautiful plot.

      • It’s looking better this week. I think we had the same sort of weather with a bit of a cold spell (when you asked 3 weeks ago) but today is like summer. The seedlings we started a couple of weeks ago (inside) are sprouted and happy. They get to go outside during the day. We have 3 square foot gardens, which is sort of like container gardening. Our boxes are mostly 4’X4′ and lots of 5 gal pots for the tomatoes. The biggest challenge in our garden are the slugs! We give them beer but they go for the veggies afterwards.
        Congratulations on finishing finals!

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