The second floor of our apartment has a large, sunny porch. At one point we had a thriving herb garden, which now contains only a geranium, some sad-looking rosemary, and a miniature citrus tree. I am gratified that the tree survived long enough for us to enjoy the single kumquat, since we couldn’t eat the fruit until the fourth year of neta revai (see the fourth paragraph here for more explanation). That tree came close to dying more than once.
After picking the kumquat we had to let it be hefker, or ownerless, because it had kedushat shvi’it, the holiness of the sabbatical year. (All fruit from trees that bloomed after last Tu beShevat have this status). We had to leave it in a place where others could take it if they liked. We put it out in our living room with a sign, and, when we remembered, pointed it out to visitors. No one took it, but the kumquat got slightly smushed. We should have another chance soon.
A, age 12, has been nudging me to start planting again. Since he had a day off from school yesterday, we went into town and bought seven bags of seeds: Shallots, thyme, “baby mix” (even though the storekeeper said he didn’t have any lettuce), garden peas, basil, sage, and broccoli. Mimi donated a package of chamomile.
At home we collected the old pots and soil from the dead plants, saving the dried branches and leaves for compost. In a large bowl, A mixed the soil with dried compost from two years ago (another project we need to revive). He placed broken china into the bottom of the pots so that the roots wouldn’t sit in water, and refilled the pots. He swept up the dirt and called me to help decide which seeds to plant in each pot. The two smaller children helped with the planting. Then A labelled the pots.
We placed the containers in a partially shaded spot to minimize evaporation, since the forecast is for another hot and dry week. I wonder if we should bring them inside until they sprout.
I am resolved to use only recycled water for this garden. The challenge is to collect the water and get it up to the second floor. I placed a dishpan in the kitchen sink to collect used water, and poured it through a strainer into a bucket. Straining the water might not be necessary as small amounts of vegetable matter can only help the plants.
My husband and I think that we can also use recycled water for the first cycle of the washing machine.
I would like to hear readers’ suggestions about container gardening and conserving water. Fern’s blog, Life on the Balcony, is an excellent resource for container gardeners.