Oh Look, A Saturday!

This has been one jam-packed week, and it’s not over yet.

Last Sunday evening my daughter volunteered for a late shift at a Christmas tree stand for her service club. We almost got a tree then, but I felt like I needed to get the car ready and a spot ready at home. Plus I couldn’t decide on a tree, and the stand was closing at that point.

Monday, my daughter had rehearsal for the orchestra winter concert. And later that evening I had to run some errands because I knew I wouldn’t be able to run any errands on Tuesday (or Wednesday either for that matter).

Tuesday was the Winter Orchestra Concert. Traffic around the mall was horrible. It’s extra bad this time of year. The mall is between my office and the school and home. Plus it was pouring rain which is always bad for traffic. It’s like we’re getting pre-melted snow. Traffic is instantly bad. I mean, worse. So I didn’t have time to pick up Dave to get him to the concert with me (he doesn’t drive). So I was there by myself, and he missed her first cello solo with the orchestra. Gah.

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Orchestra Concert

The concert was great! I only partly messed up the video. My phone doesn’t do well when taking long videos. Part of the video just freezes. Last time I tried to bring my iPad for recording. But I accidentally pressed the time-lapse button instead of the regular video button (and I almost dropped it on the floor). So the entire video plays back in fast forward and with no sound whatsoever. This time I have most of the sound and most of the motion too. That’s better.

The school always has wonderful concerts, but it was raining so it was all a little messy. I managed to buy the  CDs from both this winter concert and the fall concert. I keep forgetting to bring checks with me, but I had enough cash since I didn’t buy the Christmas tree on Sunday. Sometimes things work out that way.

Wednesday morning I was stressed I had so much to get done. Some of it done.

Wednesday evening my office had its annual Christmas party. It was very nice. We had a yummy buffet dinner with an assortment of proteins, salads, and pasta. Then, pumpkin cheesecake for dessert. We presented a plaque to the founder of the company who will be retiring from active consulting at the end of the month. He’s been doing this for 40 years! We finished up with a White Elephant gift exchange. I got a book called, “Infuse.” I’m going to have to try some of the suggestions. The most popular items exchanged were a bottle of Girlshine (like moonshine, but a kind of brandy) and a pair of messaging slippers that looked like giraffes. We had fun.

So by Thursday, I was still trying to get things done that I would rather have had done earlier. Plus my stomach was giving me trouble (maybe I’ve been drinking too much caffeine recently. I know I can’t do that).

By Thursday evening, I had playoffs in our pinball league. I only made it to D division this time, but I made the playoffs. So yay. And I came in second in the payoffs, so I got a nice prize pick. Double yay!

Friday was here before I knew it. Barnes & Noble bookstores were having a Harry Potter Holiday Ball from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Which I really wanted to go to, but apparently not badly enough to actually brave the cold and the traffic and parking at the mall this time of the year. Plus I was kind of tired.

We thought about getting a Christmas tree then too, but I still need to get the car ready (unless I want to tie the tree to the roof) and find a spot here at home. So the tree and Harry Potter Yule ball both got scrapped in favor of staying home and watching the movie, “Elf.” (I really know how to go wild.)

I carried a few more plants in off the balcony since the overnight temperatures were getting so low. Our balcony stays warmer than the average area temperatures, but once it gets into the 20s things start to freeze even there. I’m pretty sure most, if not all, of the tomato plants are toast at this point. Those are just too large to carry inside. Last year they lasted into early January. I picked some green tomatoes which may or may not ripen (or get fried or pickled).

Mostly frozen, tomato plant-cicles.
Rescued squash assortment plus green tomatoes and peppers.

 

Feeding the more adventurous of the area wildlife.

Mr. Squirrel has returned so many times that the pumpkin on the balcony looks like it exploded. I carried most of the other squash inside so they wouldn’t freeze.

There was a pigeon or dove on the balcony. He few away when I went outside. I think the bird was eating pumpkin seeds now that they’ve been released. I still think a squirrel has been our main nibbling culprit. He’s probably the American Ninja Warrior of squirrels and pumpkin is his reward for getting four floors up on a smooth-sided building.

Our balcony has become a popular feeding spot (I like it too). I should clean up the pumpkin. (And then hope the critters forget all about it in the Spring.)

Also on Friday, I started this blog post. But then I called it, “Oh Look, A Friday!”

I really miss blogging or writing every day that I don’t do any. I think I’m addicted. November was a better month in terms of actually getting writing done. I knew there would be times in December when it would be harder. This week was certainly one of them.

So here it is Saturday. Saturday! I don’t know how it got here already. It was just last weekend for cryin’ out loud!

Today, my daughter has a cyber security competition of some sort and will miss dance class. I’ll need to drive her one way or the other.

I really, really need to get my oil changed and my tired tires rotated.

Hopefully, I’ll get my blog post done for “Size Matters: Notes from the Balcony.” I’m working on the part covering herbs. But I’ve grown a lot of herbs, so the list is pretty long. It might be wise of me to make break that post into two parts.

Hopefully, we’ll get the Christmas tree today or tomorrow (whether I have a spot ready or not). And I got this blog post done, so that’s good! Yay! (Except when I went to save it, my WiFi went out so oops. Hopefully, I’ll actually get it posted. You’ll know one way or the other.)

I hope everybody had a good week, has a great Saturday and has a wonderful weekend overall.

Size Matters: Notes from the Balcony Garden I

There’s a little spark of life still shimmering in my balcony garden. So I’m keeping a few notes on what worked well. Next spring I may need a reminder.

By default the balcony garden is a container garden. Some plants are better suited to container gardening than others. Size matters — both the size of the container and the kind of plant.

Overall, I used larger containers this year than last. That makes a difference. Plants like to stretch out their roots and get comfy. Not only do plants— peppers, tomatoes, leafy veg or herbs — grow larger and produce more fruit  in larger containers, the soil will not dry out as quickly on a hot day. That can be a big thing.

Once some plants totally dry out, they may not come back. Also, blossom end rot (not a good thing) is more likely if the soil dries too much between waterings.

I don’t have a hose on my balcony, so I carry water in large jugs or let Mother Nature’s rain give the plants a good drink. Plants in larger containers can take more total water per watering, but they need watering less often. After a good rain, many of them can go for days with no extra water. (My arms get a good workout when it’s dry out.)

Tomatoes really benefit from a large container. Comparing last year’s plants to this year’s, I got more yummy tomatoes from fewer plants. So if the choice is more plants but smaller containers or fewer plants and larger containers, you’re probably better with larger containers.

Home-grown and vine-ripened make such a huge difference in the juicy, sweet and tangy taste of a tomato. Grocery store tomatoes never come close (except a few heirloom varieties if you can find them). Farmers markets can have good ones, but around here, those aren’t cheap.

Tomato varieties that don’t grow as large are probably going to work better on a balcony, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try.

Patio Tomato is a variety of tomato plant specifically hybridized for containers and small spaces, but I’ve never been quite as thrilled with the taste or the quantity. Celebrity Tomato plants grow well in containers, produce more fruit, and taste excellent.

Cherokee Purple tomatoes taste great, but want tons of space. My plant last year was fairly healthy but grew only four nice tomatoes. It was a lot of work for four tomatoes. I’m better off buying Cherokee Purple tomatoes at a farmers’ market. I left them out this year.

Sun Gold cherry tomato plants can get quite large. Huge even. Stretched upright, my plant this year would have reached all the way to the balcony above us. I had to tape part of it to the wall to keep it from taking over. I’m sure it might have been happier in the ground (or in an even larger container), but it still produced a lot of super tasty cherry tomatoes. That was fine. So, I think cherry tomato varieties are a little more forgiving for containers.

Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.

Peppers (hot or sweet) generally grow pretty well in containers (larger is still better). But there isn’t as much difference in taste between home-grown and store-purchased. So I love other things about growing peppers — like being able to just walk out and pick a pepper. It’s nice to see them grow and know that I used only a little soap and vigilance to keep pesty bugs away. Picking them at the peak of ripeness can still provide some amazingly sweet and flavorful peppers. I also like growing hard-to-find peppers that I know I’ll eat.

We liked Gypsy Peppers again this year (though one plant seemed a little different and may have been mislabeled).

Cow Horn Peppers were a huge hit for the hot stuff. They grew lots of beautiful, twisty, flavorful, larger, hot peppers. I would so grow these again.

Garden Salsa peppers weren’t quite as impressive, but they were fine for a pepper with less heat.

Dragon Cayenne was another good one. The smaller plant seemed fine in a not-huge flower pot and the little peppers had nice heat and flavor.

We generally like jalapeños and did again this year. They like a larger pot for good numbers. They still grow okay in a smaller pot, but the quantity is greatly reduced.

Cajun Bell peppers looked almost like habaneros, but weren’t as hot. They were thin-walled, and not as convenient to slice as some of the other varieties. I may or may not grow them again. But they were cute.

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Hot stuff – Cow Horn peppers.

Next I’ll cover leafy greens and herbs.

(Balcony) Garden Variety Magic

The WordPress Daily Post’s photo challenge for this week is Magic.

When sunlight kisses green leaves… There is no other logical explanation for the resulting glow. Magic.

Water, air, sunlight, and living soil. Seeds. Combined, green stems push through and leaves burst forth. Flowers follow. Then a bulge of fruit swells and ripens.

The magic of mother nature, God, and living things and sunlight.

I had a balcony garden again this summer.

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The glowing leaves. The tasty peppers.

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Sun Gold, Orange cherry tomatoes and powerful strawberries.

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It’s not dead yet even with last night’s frost. The balcony stays a bit warmer. Though most plants are limping. They’ve reached the end of the marathon still bearing a few small fruits across the finish line. Some plants tripped and fell on mites. They didn’t fair so well.

Dragonflies visited again this year. They are always welcome to perch and rest. I get to see their wings sparkle. An insect that looked like a leaf was here too. He was new this year.

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It’s a leaf. It’s a bug. It’s leaf bug. Greetings friend. (At least he seemed friendly.)



A squirrel with more gusto than his pals made the giant leap from a nearby tree to our balcony. We scared each other. He leapt back to the tree nearly missing his branch. And the sway nearly launched him back. It’s not an easy leap. I’m glad he didn’t eat many of the tomatoes. One year they ate them all. Every single one.

Somebody visited again recently. A squirrel? A bird? I only saw evidence. Not the critter. A pumpkin had been nibbled.

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Nibbled pie pumpkin and winter squash. (I didn’t grow these, but I like them.)

This post was also for NaBloPoMo Day 21.

 
NaBloPoMo November 2016

Not Done Yet, The Tomato & Pepper Edition 

I picked two newly ripened Patio tomatoes yesterday morning. There are several varieties of green ones left, and about five tiny green ones that just started on my Celebrity tomato plant. So, hopefully, it’s not over yet. All the rain and cool temperatures the week before last had me worried.

There are a bunch of jalapeño peppers that just started growing too. 

I don’t know if the new little green tomatoes or peppers will fully grow and ripen — probably not. But I hope the get some size before a hard freeze hits us.

I picked some of my green tomatoes before Hurricane Joaquin hit or, more accurately, didn’t hit here.

I may fry a couple but what I did with some of them was dice them and add them to a mix of hot peppers in vinegar and spices. So, yes, I pickled them. They were a really nice surprise. They’re tart, spicy hot from the peppers, and have a nice crunch. I could see adding this mix to many types of food for a nice pop of flavor.

Also I picked most of my ripe tobasco peppers and put them in vinegar. They are beautiful colors — yellow greens to yellow orange and finally reds. This variety is so juicy it’s almost like tiny bottles of hot pepper sauce grow right on the plant. Even the stems and “caps” easily pop right off a ripe pepper. There’s no need to cut them. They pack a wollop! 







What the Storm Takes

Tuesday’s storm blew over one of my tomato plants. It was a little top heavy. That’s the risk of not being rooted in the earth or tied to the balcony. I’ll have to fix that. Two hard green tomatoes flung off the plant and rolled under the table & chairs on our balcony. Maybe they were ducking for cover.

I’ve been hoping the few tomatoes we have left would ripen and be yummy. Now I might have to look into green tomato recipes like pickled tomatoes or the classic fried green variety. I hope I can still coax some to ripen on vines or the windowsill if nothing else. 

Bonnie Plants just posted on their Facebook page that now is the time to pick green tomatoes still on the vines. “Nooooooo!” Where? Everywhere? Or just up North? I still want to leave some on the vines to grow and ripen, but Mother Nature may have other ideas for them. Maybe I’m a little ahead of the times with my two green tomatoes. 

We’ve had more rain here this week than most of the summer combined with the exception of early on when it seemed to rain every single afternoon. It’s like bookends.

Hurricane Joaquin may hit inland near here in the next few days. Or not. Who can say. The rain seems to be announcing it’s approach as if a red carpet were rolled out. But winds change. The scruffy superstar may not show up inland. It may only rain a lot.

I’m both a little relieved and a little worried that my mom and stepdad have moved out of their old house and into a newer house that’s farther away. The new home isn’t yet storm-tested but the old had a beautiful large oak with branches over and behind the house. It is somehow both protective and precarious.

In the meantime, I’ll need to move our table & chairs to someplace less exposed just in case part of the storm reaches us. Our balcony gets very windy. I’ll also need to move or tie down any remaining plants. The rest remains to be seen.





Catch Up Day – Still Not a Food Thing

Urgh! I’m supposed to be writing stuff and somehow hardly anything has gotten done this week. I managed some reading because, with apps on my phone, I can do that just about anywhere in tiny bursts. To some extent I can do that with writing too, but it is slower. Much slower. I only got a bit of writing done. Somehow time in this past week has evaporated like the last wisps of summer sun.

For the past month I’ve been meaning to do my nails and shave my legs.  I don’t get the bug to do my nails very often, but it does show up once in a while. So nearly every day I’ve been thinking, “oh, maybe I can do them today.” Then there’s laundry. Or a cat barfs. Or something else comes up. So that didn’t happen yet. The summer color I’d planned on doing just ain’t gonna happen at this point. I’m looking at you, Autumn.

Last week I had a follow up appointment with my Physical Therapist. I reeeaally should have shaved my legs if I was going to wear shorts there. Did it happen? Nope. If I’d have remembered this little tid-bit of info then I might have worn longer pants instead.

After that I should have, at least, shaved ’em over the weekend to avoid any more mishaps. Still no. Two days ago, I managed to haul my cookies up on an exercise bike again, guess what? I could feel my leg hairs swaying in the wind as I peddled. It’s not even like I can claim “winter legs.” At least I showered. 

Earlier I managed to paint a card for my daughter for her birthday. I’m proud of the card (proud that I finished it befor her birthday was over), and I’m even more proud of her.  I think she is a very cool young teen.



We had my daughter’s birthday party last weekend so it was a busy one. Plus we got her a nice but inexpensive cell phone, and activating it took a lot longer than I was expecting. 

First I’d tried to set her up on Cricket which didn’t work at all. It should have been the correct type of GSM unlocked phone to work there, but I think something is whacky. I’ll probably need go into a Cricket store to get the SIM to work. Like I have time. I can’t even manage to shave my legs.

Walmart Family Mobile plan to the rescue! I didn’t even know this existed until a few weeks ago. I’ll even save $5 a month over Cricket (but with slightly less high-speed data). I hope the coverage works OK, but the website for the service actually makes me feel like somebody put some thought into making it family friendly. More important, it actually worked. Excellent.

I meant to bake maple or caramel apple cupcakes for her birthday party, but that didn’t get  done either. Instead I purchased not-bad-for-store-bought cupcakes in vanilla and chocolate and decorated them with pumpkin spice marshmallows. They were a hit. Especially the marshmallows. I think they’ll be good in coffee or hot chocolate this fall.

We had a lot of fun at my daughter’s Laser Tag Adventure party. She has some great friends! The laser tag games are fun and the location was nice. But they had lots of video game redemption machines there, and some of the kids went a little wild with playing those. Seriously, why does it seem like so much fun for a machine to spit out paper tickets?

You can never get much with the tickets you trade in for “prizes” there or anywhere. Put in 25 cents and if you’re lucky you’ll be able to trade your tickets for a nickle worth of goods. 

My daughter got some Now & Laters — little hard taffy bricks that I’m pretty sure are nothing but an evil ploy of evil dentists. My daughter chose banana flavor. Against my good judgement she convinced my to try one. I promptly pulled a crown off my molar. I should have known better. Taffy is pure sweet evil incarnate, and this is not the first time that that crown has come unglued. It’s a fairly shallow, flat tooth.  At least I didn’t swallow it this time. That happened. And that’s another story for another time.

My mom and stepdad are moving in these next few days. I’m excited for them but also nervous as they’ll live farther away. This will be a big change. I helped with a few things yesterday, and I’m determined to help more this weekend.

I’m also determined to get some writing done, so here’s something. It looks like I’ve actually managed a blog post. I also have a couple of Cherokee Purple tomatoes finally ripening in our balcony garden. What’s not to like? It could be a good weekend.

I’m resetting my goals for the next couple of days. I am setting aside time. Still haven’t done my nails or shaved my legs though.





What I Cooked with Our Balcony Garden Harvest

Stuffed Gypsy Peppers.

With quinoa, caramelized onions & garlic, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), corn, diced tomatoes, southwest seasoned grilled chicken, salt & pepper, and the bunch of herbs in the photo from the other day (spicy oregano, flat & curly parsley, Thai basil, and maybe a sprig of mint).  Topped with a blend of mozzarella and parm and roasted in our convection toaster oven until the peppers looked a little roasted and the cheese was melty and lightly browned. For the two of us who like spicy, I topped them with sliced semi-ripe jalapeño peppers.*

It turned out really yummy! We all liked it and ate all the leftovers before they could become leftovers.

I have Julia Child to partly thank for the yum factor. We saw her kitchen at the Smithsonian the other day. When we got home I was inspired to stream the movie Julie and Julia. I’d never seen it. It was a cute movie. Julia is amazing. Then I looked up Julia Child on YouTube and watched some of her old PBS show The French Chef. One of the sections was on French Onion Soup.

I’ve never been a huge fan of onions — probably due to the fact that I think I’m partly allergic to them. Too many (cooked or raw) and I feel like I’m coming down with the flu — achy, tired, sore throat, etc. But even when I most disliked onions, earlier in my life, I still kind of liked French Onion Soup and blooming onions too. So as my daughter loves onions (how is she even related to me?) I decided to put onions in our stuffed Gypsy Peppers.

Until watching Julia Child again on YouTube, I have to admit I never properly caramelized onions. Oh, I could brown the heck out of them, but I completely missed the part about actually cooking them before browning them. It makes quite a difference.

I took the “busy mom hack” approach to cooking my onions and zapped them in the microwave until cooked. Then I put them in the frying pan on low heat with some butter and olive oil. They got beautifully caramelized! It added so much flavor to the quinoa and the overall filling for the gypsy peppers.

We had more filling than gypsy peppers, so we just served extra on the plate next to the stuffed pepper — kind of made it look like it was spilling out of the pepper onto the plate. Topped with a sliced cherry tomato and sprig of Thai basil for a garnish. I think it adds a bit of 1970s je ne sais quoi.

They gypsy peppers themselves were to die for! Letting then ripen may have meant fewer total gypsy peppers for our harvest, but the sweetness and flavor were amazing. So sweet! Beautiful color! They are really ideal for stuffing as I didn’t pre-cook them at all. The skin was perfect just filled with our stuffing mix and then cooked in our convection toaster oven.

I only hope that our remaining gypsy peppers get this good. And I hope I can duplicate this again.

*I’ll try to add actual measurements at some point. I didn’t use a recipe. But it was about a can of garbanzos (drained), 2 cups of cooked quinoa, 1/2 a medium-large sweet onion (diced and caramelized), several cloves of garlic, and 1 large diced tomato. Herbs, salt, and pepper to taste. I used all of the herbs seen in the photo here.

Balcony Garden Harvest

Balcony garden harvest with herbs, gypsy peppers, jalapeño, and several types of tomatoes. This is part of what’s for dinner. Glad to have picked our gypsy peppers before they got nibbled by critters!

Check out what we cooked, Stuffed Gypsy Peppers.

I swore I wouldn’t: A Balcony Garden Journey Part 2

I absolutely did not go to Home Depot with the idea of purchasing plants or seeds and most definitely not tomato plants.

I went there to have a key made and to purchase a spray bottle so I could mix up some homemade cleaning spray. My old bottle stopped spraying.

The smell of the store was distinctly Home Depot — earth, chemicals, metal, and concrete. People milled in and out of the garden area, and, as it was almost spring, I could see greenery with each flash of the sliding door.

I had to go take a peek. It was the promise of sunshine and green life pushing through dark soil.

I resisted the urge to purchase plants right there and then. I wanted to think about what we might grow and use and liked the idea of sharing the experience with my daughter. She’s much older now than the last time I grew plants on our balcony.

I knew I would have to be very strict about how much we tried to grow. Several years ago I grew too much which made for a lot of work. There were some plants I hardly even used. Pineapple sage, for example, was beautiful and smelled great fresh. But it didn’t dry well or hold it’s flavor in cooking.  It really became more of a decorative plant. I don’t mind some strictly decorative plants, but I really like plants that look nice and offer something we can eat. It makes for space well-used.

A couple of hot peppers and strawberry plants in hanging baskets seemed to be about right in my mind. Maybe a couple of herbs too.

Years ago the squirrels didn’t seem to be able to raid the strawberry plants when I had them in hanging baskets. The hot pepper plants they left alone after the first few bites. This seemed manageable. Fun. Pretty. Hopefully giving us a few things to eat for the trouble.

When I brought my daughter near the gardening section, it was the seeds that caught her eye. Well, dang, I hadn’t planned on trying to grow anything from seed. In fact, I already had a few packets of 5-or-more-year-old seeds collecting dust in a cabinet somewhere. I let her pick out two of something new.

She settled on cucumbers and a variety of marigold called Cottage Red.

I guided her to a variety of cucumber called Picklebush since they seemed like they would stay pretty small and produce cucumbers that look like deli pickles. Cottage Red marigold were not edible flowers like some (Lemon and Tangerine Marigold are edible), but they looked pretty on the packet and marigolds are usually good at keeping away garden pests. So there’s a usefulness there.

As far as plants, I quickly picked up a Tabasco Pepper plant and some jalapeño peppers (one mild variety and one standard). My daughter doesn’t like anything too spicy. I looked for a parsley plant but found none at the time, so I grabbed a packet of flat-leaf parsley seeds and a packet of Siam Queen Basil seeds. Plus we selected two strawberry plants — the only everbearing ones that looked good at the time — Ozark Beauty.

My daughter pleaded with me to get tomato plants, but after my somewhat bitter memories of squirrels that consumed every single tomato my plant grew the last time I tried. I told her, “no.” I said it several times. And we left with no tomatoes.

I didn’t know I would be back to Home Depot so soon. There were not only more strawberries in our future, but possibly tomatoes too.

(Part 2 of a series. Visit again later for more.)

I Swore I Wouldn’t: A Balcony Garden Journey

I swore I wouldn’t try to grow tomato plants on our balcony again. That was about seven years ago. And I hadn’t grown ’em since. So imagine my surprise this year when all that changed.

When I started growing tomatoes the first summer we lived here I thought that no pesky insects could find their way to our plants way up here on the third floor. But find us they did. How’d those aphids get here? Are those other things mites?

Not only did insects find us but it wasn’t long before the squirrels did too. The outer shell of our building was coated in artificial stucco. The squirrels could grab the bumpy texture with their claws and scale up the side of the building like Spidermen in furry gray suits. Not only did the squirrels find us, I’m pretty sure they put posters up around the neighborhood advertising the free food to all their friends. Drove the cats bananas as the squirrels taunted them then escaped up a stuccoed pillar.

I tried sprays for the insects and mesh along with hot pepper sprinkles to discourage the squirrels. But they’d still find my tomatoes. 

There are challenges to growing tomato plants in containers and especially so when you have only a balcony and jugs to carry water instead of a backyard with a hose.  

The plants grew nicely. Tomatoes too. More than once I’d patiently wait one more day for a tomato to turn red only go out the next and find bites already taken out of it. How rude of them to take a few bites and leave the rest behind! Do they know how hard I worked to make those things grow? 

The last straw was the day I saw a squirrel perched on the bricks around the edge of our balcony. His fluffy tail twitched in excitement. I went out to shoo him away only to find a partially chewed green tomato sitting there. Cute but infuriating, those furry thieves weren’t even waiting for the tomatoes to ripen.  No tomato was safe. It was the last tomato. I was done. 

I moved on to growing only herbs, a few flowers (some of which the squirrels ate too) and hot peppers.  The squirrels bit a few hot peppers but soon left them alone. 

Eventually the outside of our building became less and less appealing as the improperly installed artificial stucco became discolored and cracked in places. Above the utility closet off our balcony there was a large gap left by our builder where several generations of pigeons made a charming home for themselves. But for us, the pigeons made a horrible mess. We tried mesh to keep them out, but they found another way in. Eventually we stopped trying to grow anything we might want to eat. Soon, we hardly went out there at all. Shame too, nice view.

Last summer, with building repairs in full swing (partially due to that artificial stucco), we couldn’t go out on our balcony at all. The winter before, the repair workers had wired our balcony door shut from the outside. We scrambled to save a few nice flower pots when they first did it. We had put our fresh cut Christmas tree on the balcony in a bucket of water, so we had to make special arrangements to retrieve that too. We didn’t even have windows for a while.

So early this Spring a visit to Home Depot resulted in the purchase of a few small plants. This started a slippery slope of greenery and a whole new battle. (Part 1 of a series.)