April 7, 2017

Apartment Life and Gardening

One of the challenges to living in an apartment instead of your own house is the limits you have on what you can and cannot do.  For instance, since I don't own the yard around my apartment, digging it up and planting a garden is frowned upon.  

Quelle surprise, right? 

I'd like to can some pasta sauce this coming summer.  For that, I'll need some tomatoes.  Roma tomatoes, preferably, as they have more "meat" and less juice than, say, Beefsteak tomatoes.  A couple pounds of Romas, some onion, green pepper, olives, herbs and spices, simmer it down a bit, fill jars, waterbath to preserve... There's nothing better.* 

At any rate, since I can't plant a garden, I'm contemplating planting in a few buckets.

Get some 5 gallon buckets from your local hardware store.  Paint 'em pretty colors, if you wish.  

Drill some 1/2 inch holes in the sides of the buckets, near the bottom, all the way around the bucket.  Space these holes a couple inches from each other.  You're making a drain, should the plants get too much water from a rain storm. 

Put a layer of fairly large river rocks in the bottom of the bucket.  Make sure the rocks are larger tahn the holes, or the rocks may get wedged in the holes, negating the draining effect.  I use rocks that are about the size of racquetballs.  Next, add a second layer of rocks, these can be smaller, like golf ball size.  The two layers of rocks should be about 1/4th the depth of the bucket.  

Now start adding your soil.  Personally, I like to use a mixture of top soil and compost soil or manure, mixed well.  If you don't have access to compost or manure, mix a good measure of plant food with the plain top soil.  

Plant your tomato seedlings, water, and place in an area that gets lots of sun.  

Couple months later, you've got fresh tomatoes for pasta sauce makin'.  

* If you don't want to fuss with the onions, peppers, olives, etc., I'd recommend Mrs. Wages pasta sauce mix.  You can get it at most stores that sell canning supplies.  It's quite tasty, but has more preservatives and such than just using fresh ingredients.  Still better than anything made by Ragu or Prego or any other commercially made crap.  Mrs. Wages also makes a solid salsa seasoning packet.  

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