Urban Jungle

I have been meaning to post about our adventures in urban gardening since the day we came home with a pallet full of flowers, herbs and vegetables from the Italian Market!

We are coming up on our third summer of living in our second story apartment and for the past two years our beautiful flower boxes have sat empty. We always sort of thought that we'd be here for a lot less time than we have been. Knowing we would be living here for an unforeseen amount of time, I felt that it was time to stick some plants in the ground, or, well, coco-lined flower boxes, pots and troughs.

Our first venture was to begin with simple annuals in the flower box that hangs off the side of our railing. I picked a variation between tall and small growing plants. A few fillers and spillers as well as a variety of colors. I instantly fell in love with the white, yellow, red and purple mixed snapdragons at the market and I used those as the basis for the color palette. I think everything flows well together.

When you're choosing flowers for a flower box, you want them to look cohesive since they are grown so closely together. Pick colors that play off of each other, or find a flower that has a mixture of colors and then choose other flowers to correspond with that particular color variety. I also think it's important to choose flowers that grow at varied heights and girth; mix in taller flowers with ones that spill over the side, like taller ranunculus and flowing ivy.

The next thing we tackled was a repeat of our vintage soda box herb garden. My mother in law put this together for me last year as a pre-wedding gift and it was very successful. We decided to attempt growing various herbs again this year, keeping with some favorites like mint, basil and cilantro (even though we accidentally bought parsley instead and had to get cilantro later; ALWAYS SNIFF!) We decided to try some new herbs as well; lavender, rosemary and Thai basil. Not sure what we're going to do with the Thai basil but it smelled pretty good. Any tips on what to use it with?

The one thing I did notice last year is that keeping this box in full sun, even when given generous amounts of water, was not a favorite of the herbs so this spring and summer I am going to try to give it a little less direct, pounding summer sun.

Lastly and probably our biggest attempt at creating a mini urban jungle in our tight quarters is our vegetable garden. I use the term "garden" lightly. We are hoping this turns out to be a huge feat but time will tell.

I know the photo is really bad quality and I apologize for that, too lazy to use my DSLR for these shots. Anyway, we decided to go with vegetable plants that I read grew well in pots. We chose red leaf and romaine lettuce, jalapeno peppers, tomatoes and snap peas. I also recently stuck some green onions in the dirt to see if they would grow. We'll see. By the way, the romaine lettuce that is growing in our garden started out as a head of lettuce from the store. After we used to the heart, we dug a hole in the trough and stuck that sucker right in there. Within a few days (and I literally mean a few) the lettuce had started to grow! It really works, try it. Instead of throwing away that next heart, just stick it in some dirt and free lettuce until your heart is content!

Growing up surrounded by farms in the Philadelphia suburbs I've always, always wanted to grow my own food and farm. Not commercial size or anything that involves lots of livestock, but also not just your average backyard garden. I'm settling for now and this is just a small step. I know it will take some convincing to have Scott allow me to take this urban farming to the next level (I want a goat) I'm sure we won't add much more until we see how our crops yield this summer. I can't wait to share the results!


Go Climb!

I've been staring at this picture for a few days now. It was taken at the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park in Maine. Scott and I went there for a "mini-moon" almost a year ago. What a gorgeous place. If you ever get the chance to visit, do.

As spring is finally peeking it's head around the corner, I am always reminded of the promise of adventure that comes along with warmer weather. Once spring has sprung, it awakens in us a renewed sense of excitement, drive and ambition. I do know that spring is often the most difficult time for me at work. The kids are beginning to check out and so am I! The many mountains of my days often get me quite discouraged, so I am hoping to take this feeling and use it to drive myself toward succeeding in some of my upcoming goals. What better time to start then when the frost is finally melting and there's new life abounding?!

May you take each mountain and climb to the top, only to look back down and see what you've overcome!


Clean It Up.

To kick off spring (even though there is currently snow on the ground) I thought what better way than to begin with some much needed cleaning and organizing?

Spring cleaning can often be overwhelming. The chaos and cold of wintertime often causes the deeper cleans of our home to be ignored. I know when it's 32* I would rather cuddle on the sofa than clean out the fridge.

So when you get started with your list of chores to get your home ready for warmer weather, start simple.

1. Pick one room, focus on one particular task and finish that before moving on to something else. For example, if you notice your office has become cluttered with winter gear and piles of paperwork from taxes and leftover Christmas receipts, pick one thing to tackle first. I know I often get overwhelmed by the many things that need to be done in one room, however if you give all of your attention to one thing at a time, you're more likely to get to everything sooner rather than spread yourself thing doing half of each needed task.

2. Prioritize. You can shut the door of the guest bedroom and temporarily hide the mess, but it's much harder to ignore a crazy entryway or a disheveled bathroom. Start with the rooms that get the most use. They more than likely have also gotten the most mess.

3. Don't try to do everything in one day. Whether you live in a small, one story apartment like us or a large 5 bedroom house, it's impossible to get to every nook and cranny in one day. And if you are able, you're probably missing some mess.

Good luck with those ever growing lists + may they get smaller with each day!