Living in an apartment, gardening takes shape in the form of a variety of pots and planters on my balcony. I have a nice little collection of plants, some herbs, strawberries, a small raspberry plant I had gotten from a friend to see if it might grow in a large pot, a cherry tomato, and some small cucumbers. So I confess my “little collection” seems to keep growing and now is close to filling the perimeter of my balcony. My balcony garden started last spring when I bought a few strawberry plants and herbs at a garden club sale. I got a long rectangular planter for the strawberries so they could be spaced out and happy. I planted them and set them out on my balcony with my few other herbs and lavender. I was very excited to think that I would have some fresh strawberries growing soon. This excitement however was short lived because the next day I looked out my window and the strawberry plants all seemed to be missing. I went out to investigate and almost all five plants seemed to be eaten down to the dirt. One seemed to have the shoot of a new leaf that survived. My guess came to be that birds had eaten, or at least taken for their nests, the strawberry plants. I think they liked the plants being up at tree level for their taking.
I brought the planter inside to try to protect the one surviving plant and come up with a plan of what to do next. I did some research and learned about using netting to protect plants from birds and I acquired some netting from some friends. I gave the little plant some time to grow and when it seemed it would survive I took the planter back outside and got it set up with the bird netting to protect it and some of my other outdoor plants. Later in the summer I noticed runners coming from the lone strawberry plant and within a few weeks there were multiple new little plants growing. Over time it produced more plants than would fit in the planter! I was so amazed at the strength of this little plant. When given care and protection it was able to flourish and produce more plants. Even though I didn’t end up with any strawberries, I was very thankful to have more plants.
My excitement about the strawberries returned this spring at the beginning of April when I noticed buds and flowers on the strawberry plants! And I had my first few ripe strawberries by about the second week of May. Most of the little berries were funky shaped and rather small, but it was still so exciting to have fruit compared to where we started. This excitement continued as my raspberry plant grew two new plant shoots, and as other plants began to flower and grow.
In the midst of the pandemic and isolating at home it has been so nice to have my little balcony garden to watch life grow, to see flowers turn to produce! There is something therapeutic about working in the dirt and watching something grow, whether from a planted seed, or a small shoot, into a full out flowering/producing plant. Whether it is by growing a garden or through another means, I hope you are all finding creative and refreshing ways to bring some new life into your days.