Friday, June 1, 2007

As Local as it Gets

I have a narrow balcony that gets sun for only part of the day. In past summers, I have raised edible plants out here with mixed success. I have found a variety of yellow pear tomatoes that seem to do OK in planters on my balcony, but "patio" tomatoes have had almost no success. My many attempts at raising herbs have all ended poorly—even with herbs like mint that are supposed to be foolproof.

It's too early to say what this summer's balcony harvest will be like, but so far, things are looking promising.

Early in the season, when I met people selling seedlings at the farmers' market, I asked them whether they had anything that they thought might be suitable for container growing in a spot that only gets sun for half the day. One candidate turned up by this search was this huckleberry bush which so far appears to be growing amazingly well:

It was just a few inches high when I bought the seedling, and it has grown at a startling rate!

Another farmers' market seedling recommendation was chard. It never would have occurred to me that chard might do well in containers, but just look at this stuff, which I brought home when the leaves were coin-sized:

And here are my two tomato plants and one of two blueberry plants that I'm trying for the first time this year:

Tomato blossom close-up:

I am not a huge enthusiast for vegetable gardening, to tell the truth, but I have been daydreaming about having a house with some land where I could raise all sorts of fruit crops: blackberries, raspberries, apples, pears. So I got excited when I read online that blueberry bushes are tolerant of shady conditions and that there are some varieties of blueberry that can be raised in containers. As soon as I could find the opportunity, I went to a local plant nursery and picked out two different varieties that seemed, according to the information on their tags, like they might be suitable for my balcony. It's too early to tell how well they'll take to the spot long-term; they haven't changed much since I bought them (they came with the green berries already on the branches). I have hopes, though.

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