Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Garden of Eat When?

One of the compromises we made when buying a town home was to live without a yard.  As a Landscape Architecture student, some couldn’t fathom how I would survive without the opportunity to garden.  The beauty of our place is that it’s the front unit of the building, which means we get an abundance of natural sunlight upstairs.  It also means we get an abundance of natural sunlight on our balcony.  So, who needs a yard when you’ve got prime growing real estate right outside your sliding glass door?

When I was a kid my parents and grandparents always had fruits and vegetables growing in the garden.  It was such a fascinating experience for me as a child, and I get very nostalgic when I think of those summers filled with daily garden surprises and the amazingly delicious bounty it produced.  I love that I experienced what it’s like to nurture a garden, and revel in the results.  I also love that urban gardening is becoming fashionable.  I won’t get on my soap box here, but I feel that at-home/local/urban/community supported agriculture is great for all.  With that said, can you guess what I’m using our sunny balcony for?

This is my first go at a vegetable garden of my own, and instantly I was transported back to that excited kid looking for new veggies everyday.  When my husband saw the start up costs of my balcony garden, however, his cost benefit analysis didn’t compute.  (He didn’t understand the cost benefit analysis of our dog, either, but now he does!)  After purchasing all of the cedar boxes and the electronic composter, I do agree that growing and composting in the ground is far cheaper than doing it on your balcony, but the rewards are still the same.

Here is our garden, and my gardening assistant:

We don’t have a huge balcony, and would like to keep enough space for BBQing, so finding the right growing containers was important.  After months of searching for the right planters, I found these 10″ square cedar boxes and knew they were the solution.  They blend in well with the building, discourage pests and rot, are easy to move and don’t take up too much space.  Plus, I like the way they look.  And I still can’t believe how perfectly the composter fits out there…even right next to an outlet!

So far we’ve had basil, lettuce, spinach, green beans, chard, rosemary and garlic come from our new garden.  And my Meyer Lemon and Mandarin trees are blooming like crazy!  I’m still waiting on zucchinis and bell peppers, and I’m afraid the artichoke is not going to happen.  Despite our bit of bounty, though, we definitely still need a CSA box each week!

Tune in next time for Dog-Gone It…

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IKEA? You bet!

When I was a recent college graduate and living in my first apartment by myself, I thought nothing could beat IKEA.  I spent hours scouring the catalogue and couldn’t wait to bring that lime green corduroy futon sofa home with me.  As time went on I moved from apartment to apartment and the IKEA furniture came with me.  Much of it got updated from place to place with paint or new “upholstery”, but in the back of my mind I knew that IKEA furniture didn’t belong in a “grown-up” home.  At some point I would say goodbye to IKEA, and my twenties, forever.

Now I live in a “grown-up” home.  I did say goodbye to that futon sofa, but I’ve discovered that some IKEA items absolutely belong here!  And the funny thing is, it feels like my little secret.  Who would guess that side table, those bookshelves or those chairs are from IKEA?  Unless you are a twenty-something version of myself (who had the catalogue memorized), you wouldn’t.

Now, let’s talk about drapes.  If you have perused the drapery section of the Restoration Hardware catalogue recently, you may have noticed how ridiculously expensive drapes can be!  If you have perused the drapery section of the IKEA catalogue recently, you may have noticed how awesomely affordable drapes can be!..especially when you have as many windows as we do.  My go-to drape is the white cotton grommet top style from…yup, you guessed it, IKEA.  I have them hanging over just about every window in the house.

I lucked out with drapery rods because IKEA drapery rods are not ideal.  The previous owners left really nice Restoration Hardware rods behind, so naturally I put them to use.  I’m a firm believer in the power of drapes, and what they can do for a window and room.  In our case, I wanted to use them to make our windows look bigger and our ceilings look higher.  By re-positioning the rods an inch below the ceiling and extending the rods far beyond the edge of the windows, we got both larger windows and dramatically higher ceilings.

Check out the before and afters…

LIVING ROOM:

(The previous owner used this room as a dining room, but look at the drapes)

(We use it as our living room, but look at the drapes)

BEDROOM:

The previous owner hung drapes at just the size of the window.

 

 

I  moved the rod up to the ceiling and extended it a foot or two on each side of the window.

Tune in next time for a walk through our balcony garden.

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