Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Urban gardening

C really enjoys gardening, but being in Paris, our options are somewhat limited.  We've had a few plants here and there for the past two years, but this year he wanted to expand. Our balcony is very long and narrow, so I bought him this book for his birthday in order to help him optimize it:
He read through it all spring and in true C style, worked long and hard making a drawing of how he was going to lay out his garden.  We're now about two months in, and so far, everything is going swimmingly, so I thought I'd share here just how much it is possible to grow on your balcony in Paris.

First we have the flowers - tulips, irises (bloomed in Feb/March), Lily of the Valley, pansies and orange daisies (yet to come).
Next we have the herbs - parsley, basil, rosemary, mint and hopefully a bit of coriander:
And then the veggies: garlic, onions, potatoes, peas bell peppers, kale planted with seeds from The Kale Project and cherry tomatoes (yes, I do know that tomatoes aren't technically a vegetable).
Last but not least - the fruits: strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, a dwarf cherry tree that is too young to bloom yet and ten (!) blueberry plants.  He's also trying to grow a grape vine from seeds - a few have sprouted, so we'll see!

Pots and window boxes can be quite expensive in France, so given the number of them we needed, we bought most of ours used either on Craig's List or LeBonCoin.  A few of them came with the necessary hanging baskets, but some didn't - and buying new ones was pretty pricey, so C decided to make his own with some fencing materials.  I immediately had thoughts of them falling off the balcony and on to pedestrians below, but so far, they seem pretty sturdy.  There has already been an increased number of birds swooping around though, so we've also purchased some netting in order to keep any greedy little buggers away once the fruits start growing. 

Because the book advised different soils for different plants, we've also been slowly accumulating different kinds over the winter.  A trip to the sea?  The perfect opportunity to scoop up some sand and rocks.  A walk in the forest?  Let's pick up some pine needles while we're at it.  A day in the countryside?  Let's dig up some dirt out of a field.  (We also purchased a bag of regular dirt at a gardening store).

I should mention too that we don't have full rows of plants - there is probably about an average of 4-5 planted per type.  So with the exception of the blueberries, we're not going to feed ourselves for a year or anything, but it's still fun to be able to pick something right out of the garden and cook with what we've grown.

I think I'll probably post a few pictures at the end of the summer with our harvest, to show how successful (or not) we have been.  In the meantime, if you meet C, be sure to ask him about his garden.  He goes to see it the minute he gets home and spends a lot of time out there making sure everything is going okay.  I swear, his "babies" are almost getting more attention than I am!

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Blogger Sarah said...

Gosh, you're having much more success than me with my garden! I've actually given up trying to grow anything as the more effort I put in, the more a plant withers and dies, so now I just let nature do its thing and keep the weeds down.

Your balcony looks lovely. :)

May 7, 2013 at 11:11 AM  
Blogger Animesh said...

Excellent post KSam! I'll be sure to ask my bro about his babies the next time we talk. :)

May 7, 2013 at 11:36 AM  
Blogger The Paris Chronicles said...

This is neat to read and an excellent project for a couple.

I'm very lazy and just buy new potted plants for my balcony boxes every time they die.

May 7, 2013 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Wonky73 said...

Good job by C. I am impressed. I've intended to do some balcony gardening for the past few years bet never manage to actually grow anything but I bit of catnip for the cat.

May 7, 2013 at 4:22 PM  
Blogger L said...

Haha, now that my plants are starting to sprout too I usually stop by to look before putting my bike away when I get home. Good tip on the pots from LeBonCoin! I want to grow some more things but someone around here will groan if I go and buy more pots.

May 8, 2013 at 12:28 AM  
Blogger Amber said...

That looks great! While I do have outdoor space, it's in the form of a paved courtyard so I container-garden too. I haven't been as brave to try everything you've got going!

May 10, 2013 at 9:03 PM  
Blogger Jeannette Smyth said...

wow this is really exciting!!! i saved some seed from my special heirloom chimayo chile peppers last year and love to send them to pen pals. interested?

zap me your mailing address and i'll see if we can get them thru customs.

May 15, 2013 at 7:34 PM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Hi Jeannette - C would kill me if I did that, he absolutely hates anything spicy. We actually got into an argument last night about whether to use "mexican" cheddar or Emmenthal on the nachos!! lol

May 15, 2013 at 9:06 PM  

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