Thursday, June 14, 2012

In the Jungle

The one part of spring and summer that I love is the fact that I can plant a garden and watch it grow. (My favorite time of year is fall followed by winter--I HATE hot weather!) As I don't have a house and yard (yet!), I have to make do with my 7'x4' balcony that gets FULL SUN especially in the afternoon. Thankfully, the basic herbs don't need much room, and they LOVE full sun! So every April, Ben and I skip/run to the home improvement store and buy seeds and potting soil, and we spend an afternoon planting and the next two months watching it grow. I lovingly call it my Jungle, and my cats love it too! In fact, they beg every morning and night to be let out. They climb the rails, sniff the bird feeder, and try to steal my chives (really--cat breath mixed with onion breath--phewweee!!!)!

**Ari is THE most expressive-faced cat I have ever seen!  He is also camera shy.  Look at those cheeks!  Don't you just want to pinch them?! (Okay so maybe I do...)  Ziffi is her usual hoity-toity self.**

I try to have plants that the cats can eat and not get sick, but I have to have a few (lavendar, petunias, aloe, bamboo, and nasturtiums).  Surprisingly, the only plant they touch are the chives despite a large pot of cat grass sitting right beside the sliding door.  They love wheat grass (especially Ari), and I guess chives look close enough--probably have better flavor than grass hahahaha :o)

The wheat grass is not pictured because it is near dying/dead. The wheat grass cannot handle full sun or heat above 80 degrees which is what the weather was doing, and I forgot to take it inside. Not to worry! I will try to revive it or buy some more.

Having said all of that, everything was grown from seed besides the chives.  The cats got to them this year so I had to buy an actual plant.  Some of the seedlings are starting to pop their head up since the protection of the larger plant appeared.

As a cook/baker, I have to have aloe!  Makes a burn hurt much less!  Bamboo is for luck and serenity.

I know what you are thinking--"What the heck is a nasturtium?"  Well--it's an edible flower!  The flower has a peppery taste, and some even have a bit of heat to them!  Ben loves these flowers so I figure we'd grow them this year and put them in salads!  (Plus, he'll just eat them right off the plant!)

This is  my first time growing cilantro, and I am excited!  I have come to love cilantro over the years, and I am incorporating it into my cooking more and more especially with Indian and Mexican foods.  The homemade flags were for distinguishing plants before they take their characteristic shapes; plus, Ben is not too herb savvy hahahaha!

I LOVE purple petunias!!!  I always have and have a pot of them!  The color justs makes me smile.  Oh!  Let me introduce you to Moose; he is my garden gnome!  The mint is taking FOREVER to grow (it's my first time with that herb too!), and so I set Moose to watching it to see if it was dead.  Thankfully, it started coming up a few days after I set him to it (maybe I planted them too deep?....)  Moose reminds me of Diddl-Maus from Germany (small mouse bodies with ridiculously large feet like Moose) so I had to take him home with me.

These herbs put off a TON of clippings especially if you keep them trimmed up.  My grandparents have a dehydrator (dried spices anyone?), and I have researched some freezer techniques for keeping these herbs as fresh and flavorful as possible.  Check back later for those tips and hints!

**Ziffi loves to walk on the rail; I have a hard time getting a good picture since she is on the move, but I will one day!  I have seen her 'study' the gutter that runs next to the balcony...  She also 'studies' the glass and screen doors; this cat is EXTREMELY imtelligent.  She might figure out how to get out!  Thankfully, we don't have a tree near the balcony (like the ones on either side of us) because she would have definitely been down that in a heartbeat!**

Have you planted edible plants or a full garden?  What do you grow?
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