What’s making me happy

I don’t have access to a garden in my current apartment, but I do have a small patio that gets sun for a good part of the day, so I’m gardening in pots again this year. I’m growing mostly fruits, with a couple of herbs and some cucumbers.

My raspberry plant survived the winter, and it looks like I’m going to have a bumper crop, if the wildlife doesn’t beat me to it. There have been bumble bees all over it for weeks, which makes me happy on two fronts – I’m feeding the bees (yay bees!), and the bees are pollinating my plant. Everyone wins. Also, there are at least five new canes coming up for next year – according to my reading, in the fall I’m supposed to prune back any canes that bore fruit, and the canes that come up this year are the ones that will bear next year.

Raspberry plant

Some of the raspberries growing on my plant. Tracking the slow progress from bare cane to now-green fruit has brought me a lot of peace and joy.

My strawberries also survived the winter, which was even more of a surprise to me. The original plant is hanging in there, but the leaves and flowers on that one have been tiny. The runner that climbed in with my chives, however, is basically Jurassic Strawberry. Everything is huge. And the first berry on the plant has just turned red – I’ll probably get to pick it tomorrow.

I bought a blackberry plant because it was on sale. It’s doing well and putting out new leaves, but no flowers as yet. I don’t know if, like the raspberry, it won’t bear until next year. My reading suggests it isn’t as winter-hardy as the other berries, so I might experiment with bringing it inside over the winter? I’ll have access to a cold room by then, and that might be a reasonable compromise.

A colleague of mine who is an avid gardener brings in tomato seedlings for everyone every spring, so I’ve got two varieties of those. They’re doing well despite the lack of sun, and I’ve got a couple of tiny green tomatoes starting already, and more flowers on the way. If I’m home at the right time of day (my schedule is… unique), I try to move their pots around the patio so they can get an extra couple of hours of sunlight.

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The first tiny tomatoes on my vine. Flowers are still coming up all over, so I’m hoping for many more to come.

Ditto the rosemary. I love rosemary, and I’ve tried to grow it several times before. The variety I’ve bought this time is meant to grow 4-6 feet tall. I’ve accepted in my heart that this will never happen. It’s still in the 4-6-inch range, and while the cool and wet hasn’t harmed it, it isn’t exactly growing like gangbusters either.

The mint I don’t worry about too much. It’s basically a weed, it’ll do fine on its own.

The cucumbers I’m training to grow up a tomato cage. That seems to be working well so far. I’m not entirely sure how big they grow, but I’ve been picking them at about 6 inches long. The research I read suggested picking often for a plentiful harvest. And it does seem like only one cucumber ripens on the vine at a time, and as soon as I pick one, it triggers the next one to grow. Anyway, I’ve harvested two already and had them on sandwiches. Another will be ready to pick tomorrow, by the looks of things.

It’s been a cool, wet spring in my part of the world, so that has helped with the maintenance. And the squirrels must be getting enough food elsewhere, because so far I haven’t had to resurrect the plant jail from last year. (I caged everything in chicken wire to try and keep the squirrels out. Medium success.)

I’ve experimented with gardening before, but this is the first time I’ve taken it semi-seriously two years in a row, and part of the joy has come from feeling a small uptick in my skills and my knowledge. And I love the feeling of tending to things and seeing them grow. Just sitting with the plants and noticing what has changed from day to day or watching the bees visit the flowers makes me happy. It’s probably not what the wellness people have in mind when they say people should spend time with nature, but it does seem to count.

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