Saturday, April 1, 2017

Urban Gardening On The Balcony

My bride and I sold our ranchero south of Gandy in Tampa (SOG City) a few years ago and moved to the beach. I had farmed our land for almost thirty years growing fruit and vegetables. In that thirty years I discovered that there were more little plant eating shit-ass bugs than you could shake a shovel at. I was ready to turn in my trowel, so I did.

The Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I really enjoy our stately pleasure dome overlooking the Intracoastal and the Gulf of Mexico. What I discovered missing was fresh veggies from the garden. Our two nearby mercados are a tad inconsistent with their vegetation selection. Many items, I sadly discovered, appeared to be pre-rotted.

So what's a frustrated chef to do? I bought dirt and pots, and some seeds. I am now farming on our fifth floor balcony. After reading a couple of articles in the Tampa Bay Times I realize I have officially become an Urban Gardener - again.

I started our fifth floor farm with herbs, then tomatoes, onions, and peppers. We still have to shop at the local grocery stores, but we don't spend as much and the quality is so much better when we harvest from out mini-garden.

Rosemary, cilantro, Italian parsley, and mint.
This spring planting has a couple of new crops added: shishito peppers and sweet corn.

The compact discs deterred a couple of nesting pigeons from attacking the corn seeds.

Both the peppers and corn are in their early stages, but "they ain't dead yet!" I grew this corn variety back in SOG City and each stalk provided one or two amazingly sweet cobs. We never bothered cooking any of it; we just pulled off an ear, shucked it and ate probably the tastiest corn we had ever had.

I frequently use fresh ginger in my recipes and discovered that a knob of that store bought ginger broken off and stuck in a pot of dirt will keep me supplied with ginger root most of the year.

The balcony isn't going to rule out a trip to Publix Where Shopping Is An Adventure, but I have cooked full meals with only balcony herbs and veggies.

Now some stuff just for fun.

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