I have gardened, on and off, pretty much my entire life…

I was able to keep the lettuce going through the winter under some row covers, and here was my February harvest!

First, it was weeding the beets and picking currants in my mother’s garden, back in Russia. Like many, I hated it at that point and was dreaming of a time when I would be garden-free. Little did I know, that as an adolescent, I would find myself craving plant interaction! At that point I satisfied this craving by accumulating a collection of cacti and other succulents. There is something mystifying about the way these plants manage to survive in extreme conditions of the desert.

This 6-foot-tall cactus decided to bloom last winter.

That first collection is long gone (I had to leave it behind when I moved to United States), but wherever I am, I always end up with a few of these feisty plants plants (today I have about 13 of them spread between home and work).

I came back to work from maternity leave two years ago to discover that my aloe plant was in full bloom.



For the last ten years or so, I have been living in apartments and had zero outdoor gardening space. Instead, I was trying to grow things indoors, from kitchen herbs to mushrooms (not very successfully). I experimented with grow lights and planting techniques and flooded the place with aphids more times that I’d like to admit.

Finally, last spring I became a proud tenant in a local community garden (West Philly PlotLand), and I was finally able to garden outdoors again!

This year, in addition to improving my plot (fixing an old raised bed and building a new one in place of a flat-earth plot), I decided to take on a new challenge. Our new apartment has a a fire escape balcony that is not exactly good looking, but offers a new gardening spot. Balcony gardening has many challenges, but also countless benefits (access to fresh produce, improved air quality and temperature control, to name a few). I started this blog to share my ups and downs, get some feedback from like-minded urban gardeners, and to simply learn the ways of the blogging world.

Surprisingly, the trickiest thing about growing indoors was (and still is) one of my cats devouring the plants. She appreciates the wheat grass I plant just for her, but also enjoys variety and has been seen chewing on everything from aloe to fern palm (not good for cats, by the way) to cucumbers (her favorite, she would kill the whole thing by biting the stem right above the ground, like some sort of feline vine borer).
Fried potatoes with the only mushroom (yes, just 1 piece of mushroom!) I was able to grow indoors. It was a delicious oyster mushroom, but only amounted to one serving…