with the compost safely inside, we caught our collective breath and sucked down fluid in large quantities (not gonna lie... i started out drinking water, and ended up drinking wine), then it was time for the real fun to begin. i spent the rest of the afternoon dragging large planters from one spot to another, mixing compost into the ones that were already filled, filling up a few more empty ones, and changing my mind about a hundred times as to what should be planted in each one. meanwhile, my favorite animator (who luckily does not share my aversion to high places) dismantled the screen on the balcony railing, replacing it with a thin wire mesh that should serve the dual purpose of keeping the cats in and the squirrels out. that last bit is wishful thinking, as the squirrels adamantly refuse to recognize any man-made boundaries, but we figure we would give it a try.
with so little space for growing things, extra precautions have to be taken to protect our precious seedlings, so we (mainly he) constructed cages to cover the planters. they will remain in place until the plants are large/strong enough that a single chomp from a furry intruder will not mean the death of the whole thing. it looks a bit bonkers right now, but it would be heartbreaking to have done all that work, then to wake up the next day and find it all destroyed. i would probably be slightly less insane with a conventional backyard garden where you can afford to lose one or two plants, but when your whole setup consists of twenty-something plants dangling precariously several stories above street level, there is no such thing as being too cautious. still, i cannot wait until the cages come off.
me: look at it.
me: it's kinda sad.
him: what's wrong with it?
me: it looks like a vegetable garden... in a prison yard. this was supposed to be my joyful activity. there is no joy.
him: that could be a thing. you should write a book about it. The Art of Joyless Gardening, by N Ayisha M---.
so, for the next few weeks, i will be staring at a whole lot of this.
it is like modern art... with future-food inside!
while we were out shopping for compost, i kept walking past a display of plastic strawberry pots filled with assorted herbs, and i made the mistake of petting some lemon balm, which only served to remind me that i really like lemon balm. i have never actually cooked with it, but the stuff is a-ma-zing in pitchers of iced tea and lemonade. it is also quite lovely in boozy summery drinks, especially the ones made with vodka and/or gin. naturally, i had to find a lemon balm plant. two-and-a-half employees later, and it turned out they were sold out except for the ones crammed into those strawberry pot arrangements, so i bought a plastic strawberry pot just so i could get the lemon balm. i removed it from said container and replanted it in a bigger pot so that it will have more room to grow and spread, because you can never have too much lemon balm. i also repotted the curly parsley that was planted on the other side, so now i am left with a plastic strawberry pot with two empty slots. there is a joke in there somewhere.
we did manage to make one mildly-thrilling discovery while working on our tiny garden. about a month or so ago, i sprinkled seeds for beets and sugar-snap peas into a couple of the containers, so i decided to top them off with some compost to give the plants a bit of a boost. he was removing the cage of joylessness from the sugar-snaps when he paused and told me to come have a look. do you see it?
my insect identification is worse than my bird identification, but i am fairly certain that this is a Lettered sphinx moth (Deidamia inscriptum). the larvae feed primarily on grape plants, and there is a massive hedge of wild grapes that runs along the railroad track at the bottom of our street. the vines continue on for a mile (or more) along the tall fence that separates the tracks from the public roadway, so this area would be ideal for Lettered sphinxes looking to lay their eggs. i usually panic at the appearance of even a single moth (especially the ones that look like they are in search of a wooly meal), but this one can stay as long as (s)he likes. welcome, new friend. welcome.
the combo of black, greys, and browns with the splash of bright green in the background calls to me. i may have to pull out my dye pot and translate this image into a color scheme for some yarn.
for now, i am going to finish my coffee and stare out the window for a while. if i look hard enough, i may just find some joy.