Our second story apartment has a very small balcony is my gardening sanctuary. Container gardening has become one of my favorite ways to spend a spare minute. Whether I’m collecting some kitchen compost, watering our flower friends, or trimming herbs, the care and upkeep—and rewarding harvest—of my container garden’s bounty has become one of the most rewarding parts of my day.
I kept my endeavors limited to flowers and herbs, foregoing vegetables because I felt container gardening with larger things like squash or tomatoes seemed fairly impractical. Of course, I saw all kinds of amazing ideas on Pinterest, with impressive photography of tiered and stackable planters to prove your zucchini, squash, and strawberries can grow and thrive in a small-space garden. But, I’m also aware of the realities of my capabilities when it comes to recreating Pinterest-magic.
I kept my humble apartment garden small, simple, and took pleasure in useful herbs like oregano, mint, and cilantro. There was a mysterious little sprout that began to grow near my hostas in the pot that contained some orange Asiatic Lilies. And as it grew larger, five more sprouts followed, which led to my Facebook inquiry of, what is this thing, I didn’t plant it. And a bunch of people said, it’s a volunteer tomato.
I hadn’t heard of the term “volunteer” in relation to plants, but once I learned a little more, I counted my volunteer tomatoes as a blessing, a vote of confidence from Mother Nature. The volunteers came into my garden as the rest of my world outside of the garden seemed to be falling out of order. Things felt like a sprawling mess of conflict and challenges. I felt myself growing weary as I stared down a daunting few weeks, wondering how to manage incoming visits from relatives, our busy family schedule, and the joys of budgeting as a millennial family with student loans.
The emergence of the volunteers seemed like a message from Mother Nature. Even if I don’t think my own pot can hold the bounties of a vegetable garden, the vegetables felt otherwise. If I can open my hands, open my heart, and face the challenges coming my way, maybe I’m capable of holding and doing more than I give myself credit for.
Now I’m planting some squash and beans, with faith that my container garden can thrive with some loving care and due diligence. I’m looking forward to the challenge, and am pretty excited to see what comes next—both in and out of the garden.