Saturday, 3 May 2014

My Garage-Sale Wish-List

I'm going to try and hit garage-sales this year with the intention of buying items that will expand the garden into the future. As I've said elsewhere, next year I want to go vertical, so one of the things I will be looking for is some sort of suitable shelving system that I can place against the glass partition on my balcony. But that's not all I'm going to be looking for.

Here is my Garage-Sale Wish-List

1 - An open ended, adjustable shelving system - possibly even something like an old computer desk might work, with keeping some shade-plants below. What I'd really like to do with it is set up multiple containers with different kinds of lettuce and salad greens, all layered and providing for a summer's worth of salad eating. If I could get a nice, open backed system like the one shown on the left, I'll bet I could even rig up a system to have a vine growing up chicken-wire behind the shelves and attached to my glass partition, and still be easily able to reach through the shelves to tend to the vine and harvest its fruit. That would really maximize that part of the balcony.

2 - An umbrella from a patio set to attach to the balcony railing - My deck gets hot! Not only is this lousy for the plants, it sucks for me too because I like sitting out on the balcony. An umbrella lashed to the railing will help both my plants and myself. If I want to successfully grow lettuce throughout the summer, without being forced to eat perpetually wilted leaves, I suspect that the umbrella will be a must.

3 - A nicer chair - All I've got to sit on out there is one of those cheap folding chairs for $15.99. It's not bad to sit in, but it doesn't look nice. I really like sitting out on the balcony and watching my plants grow, plus, in a round about way, I'm trying to create a unique living space for our small apartment. A nice wicker or wooden chair would add to the ambiance of the balcony much better than a cheap lawn chair.

4 - A hummingbird feeder - It's a small item, I know, but hummingbirds are cool and they help to pollinate your plants for you.

5 - An outdoor thermometer - I wonder how hot it actually gets out there. I swear, sometimes it is ten degrees hotter than it is on the ground. I'd also like to see the difference that having an umbrella out there makes. I'll bet it is quite significant! 

6 - A kitchen scale - If I can find one of these, I can start figuring out how much value I am creating by growing my own food. I'd like to weigh my harvests and compare it to grocery store prices, to figure out the dollar value of the food I have grown out there. I am also tracking my expenses, so hopefully, I will be able to show the cost vs. reward with numbers, and also, I will be able to track how successful or not my garden becomes over the years. Also, with a scale and tracking system, I should be able to better figure out how to "maximum produce" after a few seasons. What I mean is, if I grow carrots in one container, but they don't really produce very much plus have a low dollar value in the store, then I might replace it with something that grows better or costs more to buy. Right now I am in to each one of my large containers for around $20 each, including the cost of the bin plus the soil, and then the seeds or seedlings. I'd like to know if I'm producing only $10 or $15 of monetary value from one crop, while producing $30 or $40 from another container with a different crop. If I track this aspect of the garden vs. its limited space, I can, over time, customize my garden for maximum production and value.  
7 - Window boxes with good hanging attachments - I'd like to hang multiple boxes off the balcony railing, but I find the cost of decent hangers to be prohibitive. The one set of hangers that I bought for the box already there cost me over $40 + tax! Some of the store-made plastic boxes come with railing attachments, but they aren't adjustable, so you get home and hmmmm... that doesn't fit! The adjustable ones really are the best to get - they are sturdy, and looking at them, very bloody simply built, being they are just bits of steel with a couple bolts & wing-nuts. I can envision having another six boxes hanging off of the railing, and significantly expanding the space I have to grow in - as well as providing greater privacy - but that would be around $300 after tax just for hangers alone! That's more than what I've spent this year so far in total! I'd sure like to find a better, cheaper solution to having boxes on the railing. 

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