I absolutely love vegetable gardening. I live in an apartment, but by mid-February every year, the entire area in front of my balcony door becomes my makeshift greenhouse. I start planting seeds in egg cartons and tend them daily, watching for germination well before the seed packets say they should start growing (I just know that my seeds are smarter than the rest). Once the seedlings are hardened and the frost risk is gone, they’re planted in pots out on my balcony, so I can move my tending obsession outdoors. But it wasn’t always this way.
The Beginning of My Love of Vegetable Gardening
I’ve always put at least one potted plant out on my balcony. Everyone else did it, and it made things pretty. Then, one day, I got a tomato kit from the dollar store. I didn’t read the packet. It just looked like I had to add water to a puck and its tiny little 6-inch pot would be everything I needed. Clearly, I did my research…
A few months later, I was out watering my 8-foot Sweet 100s variety cherry tomato plant…tree. It lived in a massive pot my mom found for me in her garage. I meticulously monitored my tomato tree, googling absolutely every little thing, and it gave me tons and tons of cherry tomatoes in return. When the frost risk arrived, I couldn’t bear to let the tomato tree go. So, I bought some fresh indoor potting soil, took the tomato tree out of its pot, washed out the pot, added the new soil and transplanted the tree indoors (I wasn’t about to bring its insect-filled outdoor soil in!).
Somehow, against all likelihood and reason, the tomato tree continued to thrive. It stopped flowering over the winter, but the leaves stayed green enough. Somehow, it grew taller, bending and curling downward from my 9-foot ceiling and back toward the light of the window again. Since I couldn’t find any reliable information online about overwintering a giant tomato plant indoors, I was really winging it. But when spring came around, and the last of the frost faded away at the end of May, I hardened my tomato tree and set him outside again. I got another full season out of him! That second year, he had balcony friends: green beans and snow peas.
Audiobooks that Fueled my Passion
Every year, my balcony garden – and my love of vegetable gardening – has grown. Last year, my garden included:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Green beans
- Yellow beans
- Snow peas
- Snap peas
- Bok choy
- Buttercrisp lettuce
- Red onions
- White onions
Yup, all on my balcony. And it was awesome. This year, I’m ready to pour myself into vegetable gardening again, and I’ve been spurred on by one of the audiobooks I’m currently listening to, not to mention some of the stories that inspired me in previous years too. Interestingly, none of these books are specifically about planting a garden. Still, they’ve made me crave the chance to get some seeds into the soil and to watch for what is ripe and ready to be harvested that day.
Here are the books that somehow made me love vegetable gardening even more than I already do.
Not to get into it, because I don’t want to use this blog for spoilers, The Martian* by Andy Weir (narrated by Wil Wheaton and my first audiobook review!) features a section that discusses how to grow potatoes.
The description of how potatoes are grown encouraged me to get googling. Can it be done in containers on a balcony? Turns out it easily can! Especially when you shop at a farmer’s market that sells organic food. It meant that when I shopped too enthusiastically, my potatoes sprouted, providing me with everything I needed for vegetable gardening by burying them in a fabric planter.
Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass* (narrated by the author) is my current read and is one of the most powerful perspectives I’ve ever read. I appreciated every page and include this book among those I’d recommend to absolutely everybody. After reading the author’s outlook on botany and plants, I can’t wait to get started with my balcony vegetable gardening for the year.
Recipe for a Perfect Wife
This novel by Karma Brown (narrated by Jorjeana Marie and Mozhan Marnò) followed the story of a modern-day woman and the stereotypical 1950s housewife who had been the previous owner of her house. Recipe for a Perfect Wife* places a substantial focus on gardening and cooking. Though the planting is focused more on flowers than vegetable gardening, it was enough for me. With such an emphasis on being in the garden and preparing food, it wasn’t a big stretch for my mind to think of the veggies growing on my own balcony.
Always Looking for Audiobooks to Inspire My Vegetable Gardening
I’ve actively looked for new audiobooks that will help to feed my love of vegetable gardening. I haven’t found any others yet, but I’ve got my eyes peeled. I’m never really looking for anything that direct. The books I love the best have planting and harvesting woven into the story, instead of being stories about planting and harvesting. This is, after all, how it works in life and on my balcony.
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