Archive for February, 2009

The money situation in my household was never awesome, and it has become significantly less awesome over the past month.  But here are two things I never want to give up:

1. My cleaning people who come once every 3 weeks and protect me from ever having to mop or even think about mopping, ever.

2. My burgeoning patio farm!

And so,  even though I’m pretty much trying not to buy ANYTHING these days, I have spent some money in the past few weeks on basic springtime-is-almost here supplies for the farm.

Half whiskey barrels

I found these three half-barrels on Craigslist. They were being sold along with that stack of plastic pots in the background (which I could have done without) for $80. Before I bought them I looked up half-barrels online and to get them new would cost at least $40 each, so it seemed like a reasonable deal. Plus the sellers were willing to deliver. BONUS!

I was looking for half-barrels in the first place because I was hoping to start growing grapes which need that kind of space. But then I read in my beloved “The Bountiful Container” that it would take 3 years for newly planted grapes to start fruiting. Because of my disentegrating financial situation I can no longer assume we are going to stay in our  house for 3 more months, let alone 3 more years. So, no grapes. At least not yet.

But don’t feel too sad for me.  On a recent trip to Carpinteria I went with my friend William to a few nurseries where I purchasd 3 kinds of mints, 2 sixpacks of strawberries, 2 six packs of  lettuce mix (I’m going to try again!), and a blueberry bush. The blueberry bush was the splurge–it cost $32, but William said he’d buy it off me if it starts to die. 

Jonah and the plants

I am worried that I don’t have enough sun for the blueberry bush, but it’s so beautiful with its dusty pink and green coloring. I had no idea they were so gorgeous.

blueberry bush

So I have lots of work ahead of me next weekend planting all this stuff.  But really, it is the best kind of work I can imagine. 

And for those readers who do not live in California, here is a final photo of the orange tree that comes up through the right side of my deck.  (My landlady actually cut a hole in the deck so it could grow right through it). It’s flowering now and it smells so incredible you could almost die of happiness, no matter how little money you have.

Orange blossom magic


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Look at what happened!



And look at what else happened!


And so this patio farmer has learned a valuable lesson: Patience. I was convinced that the lack of sun on my deck was going to keep my tall leafy plants from ever producing something edible. (Can you eat broccoli leaves? Cauliflower leaves?) But then I went out there to harvest some arugula (a weed apparently, but what makes a plant a weed?) and I saw this little broccoli growing and I felt this feeling of pride/excitement/something shining in my chest. We did it–the Earthbox, the potting soil (not mix), the seedlings and I! We made a vegetable! And then I went away for a weekend and when I got back, there was the cauliflower. Three cauliflowers actually. We did it again!

All this is making me more daring as I start planning for the summer. I think I’m going to give tomatoes a shot in the Earthboxes. What the heck?

Also, I’d like to find other container vegetable gardeners.  If you are growing cool stuff in a container let me know.

And finally, here is a recent story I wrote about a young restaurant manager at Blue on Blue in Beverly Hills and his decision to start growing food on the roof. I had imagined a rooftop vegetable growing wonderland, but when I went to check it out, there were just 6 Earthboxes. Not too impressive. But here is the thing: give that guy 5 years, and I bet that rooftop will be insane. He was motivated.


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