Yesterday I took a break from wallowing in the muck of bureaucracy and the planning and logistics of SALT to assess my progress in other areas of life. We’ve made progress on our house plans and our business plans, but even as I write this my focus is like a pinball zipping through my mind bouncing off each of these goals. Any one of these things is a big undertaking but together they are a lot for even a dynamic duo such as ourselves and we’ve always tried to balance the gravity of our live choices with the fun adventuresome living that brought us here. We find ourselves taking breaks from the insanity of immigration, work permits, business plans, purchase orders, contractor meetings, design meetings to live the life we dreamed of and to do the things we promised ourselves we wouldn’t wait until retirement for.
My favorite way to take my mind off the frustrations and tribulations of starting our business here is to dive head first into my garden, tend to the sprouts, flowering and fruiting plants, assessing my next steps, the next seeds sown, and how we might be drowning in tomatoes and peppers shortly. These questions and plans for the garden are nothing in comparison to the stress inducing labyrinth we must crawl through to register our businesses, attain work permits, and continue to live here as functioning parts of society.
Our balconies are currently covered in plants at various stages of growth and it’s a beautiful sight to see. Growing my own food has resulted in some of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had down here, and will probably remain at the top of the list until we open our business or get the proper permit to live here long term without visiting immigration every 3 months for a passport stamp.
The second generation San Marzano tomato plant is doing well, it’s much shorter than it’s parent plant and already showing buds and that’s pretty awesome if you ask me. My only worry is that these San Marzanos might have cross pollinated with the local tomatoes I was growing. I guess we will see what happens when the blossoms are pollinated and they start to set fruit!
My serrano pepper experiment is truly showing the difference between what happens when you pinch and when you don’t. I’ve got one plant in full bloom, buds dangling everywhere, some flowers already pollinated and showing cute little peppers. The other is bushy with no signs of buds anywhere in sight, just big beautiful dark green leaves. (you can see the difference in the photo below)
The pak choi is stunning, thick crisp white stalks with broad deep green leaves packed with nutrients.
I’ve been plucking away leaves when I want them instead of pulling up whole heads, it will last me longer this way and I’m already planning to let at least one go to flower so I can collect seeds for the future. I’ve officially collected the seeds from my first crop of mesclun greens and one of my big beautiful Italian basil plants.
If you’ve never done it before it can seem either totally mysterious or laughably simple. Collecting seeds from the greens requires them to bolt, flower, then the flowers dry out and ‘die’ they turn into little puffballs and when they are nice and dry – just before they set out to fly off on their own you pluck them out and attached to the bottom of the fluff are little seeds, each with their own set of wings. The basil also must go to flower, show it’s beautiful stalk of white flowers then those fall off and the little pods turn dark and dried up, at this point you can pluck off the little pods which are basically cute little seed packets. Take them somewhere you can control the projectile while you pop open the pods to release the seeds into the vessel of your choosing or pop them right back into the soil. I am thrilled to say that I already restocked my mesclun & basil seeds and then some from what I had used to make those crops.
The blue lake bean plants I’m growing seem to be doing fine, little white blossoms all over 3 of the 4 plants, one is lagging behind just a little showing buds but no blossoms yet. I’m not sure if I am overthinking the beans, but I guess we will find out when they start to show some pods! I’ve come to realize my soil choice for the french breakfast radishes probably wasn’t the best since they seem very tiny for how long they’ve been growing. It’s a good thing they are a quick crop so I can try something different for the next round. There are beets tucked away in a few different pots with a few companions kind of just taking up extra space hopefully helping shade some of the soil, and as usual it will be an experiment to see if any companion or growing medium works better than others for any of these root veggies and tubers.
I thought I had 4 different tomato varieties growing but I think I’ve got 2 types and that one of these plants is actually an eggplant sprout that ended up in the wrong starter pot. There are also 2 hot pepper plants sprouting up in this container so I don’t know where I lost the other tomato varieties but I’m sure I will be swimming in tomatoes either way! Of course at this point I’ve managed to lose track of which tomato was which but they will all go into large pots eventually and since they are drastically different I should be able to tell quickly after fruits set which is which. This brings me to my next mini project, one of those little things to take my mind off the madness for a short while during the day. I will be collecting some rocks to paint and use as markers for my plants. I refuse to use those little plastic stake things, and these will be beautiful and useful!
Now maybe you have forgotten this all started because I needed to take a break from the business side of things. But that’s exactly what the garden does to me, I get so caught up in its magic, and lessons that my mind can relax and reset. I can see progress each day with new leaves, new blossoms, new fruits, tasting the harvest, even if I have no idea when we will be living in a finished home or celebrating our first official day working for SALT. There is something so comforting about our ability to produce food here, if we can do it in containers on a balcony I can’t wait to see what we can do on our land.