Words by Kit
A recent conversation on my balcony brought a light-bulb moment for me. And I look forward to reflecting further on this example of re-framing.
A visitor asked for a tour of my balcony garden.
I never feel comfortable bringing attention to it, as it is not tidy, orderly nor beautiful.
As I stepped into the small area, about to begin my tour (it’s 1 x 3 metres) these light-bulb words came out of my mouth: ‘it’s not a garden, it’s a laboratory’.
Suddenly I realised why I’ve always felt uncomfortable about calling it a garden. The expectation for beauty, productivity and knowledge are there in the term ‘garden’.
But it now makes complete sense to me to see my little space as a laboratory – a valuable, but different project, than a garden! There are
trials, practices and experiments being undertaken!
They are these
- Letting salad greens go to flower, to attract bees and other pollinators. Allowing the
flowers to seed, to then have our own supplies of organic seed.
- Striking cuttings from neighbourhood gardens that might therefore grow well in local
- Testing containers to use in a little project called ‘Adopt a Plant’ at our monthly
Farmers Market stall: egg boxes or toilet rolls or rolled newspaper
- Raising seedlings of our own lettuce and chard, for sale at the Farmers Market
- Using the stubs of spring onions, as seedlings to take to ‘Adopt a Plant’
- Testing the success of growing ginger, turmeric, sweet potato and potato from offcuts
- Raising cuttings from my sturdy indoor plant Hoya, to have as a backup and for gifts
- Creating an unkempt green spot on a unit balcony as a refuge for birds – they do
come, and they inspect and strip the plants of ‘grubs’
- Trialing different methods of watering, and of pot-types, soil compositions
- Using compost created in the compost-bin, below the units
- Using conserved water – the pre-shower cold water collected in bucket, for balcony
use, or water from the-morning-after’s hot water bottle
- Raising weeds for food – chickweed, onionweed, sow-thistle
I no longer feel the need to apologise for not being a good or tidy gardener. My interests lie more in learning from experiments than in the production of an edible or visually pleasing result! And come to think of it, I’m more of a botanist than a gardener, a learner than a food producer.