When I finished planting up the pots on our deck we had upwards of forty ranging in size from six inches to a couple feet across. For awhile all was green, growing and great. And then on July 2nd it all came to an abrupt halt.
I was on the phone and Darcy was heading off to the recycling depot when he opened our apartment door and discovered a letter on the carpet. He read the contents, came over to where I was sitting at my desk talking to my mother, set the letter down in front of me and, well, fled.
I don’t blame him.
The letter was from our strata stating that neighbours had witnessed some overflow from the pots on our deck and noted some staining on the side of the building that they suspected was coming from our pots. The head of the strata were giving us 48 hours notice before coming to inspect our deck. If the problem continued we would be fined $200 for every week that the overflow/staining continued.
I went numb. I hung up the phone, went down to our storage locker in the basement and pulled out our hand trolley. When Darcy returned the elevator doors opened to our floor and there I was on the other side with the first load of pots loaded up and ready to go.
So you’re just going to get rid of them all? Darcy asked.
Every last one, I replied.
The tone of my voice and the look on my face did not encourage discussion. In silence we emptied the deck and loaded up the pickup. It took two trips. I told Darcy to leave them outside the gate at our store for people to take. Knowing I was not in my right mind, he loaded them onto pallets and forklifted them to a corner of the lumber yard where they ended up spending the summer offering up snacks of kale, beans and tomatoes to all who worked there.
When the strata arrived two days later the deck was barren. They were aghast.
“All those beautiful plants! You didn’t need to take them all off. We just needed to find out what was going on,” they said.
Yes, it is possible I may have slightly overreacted. The thing is there is no overhang, so when it rains it is impossible to control the moisture hence overflow. It was a problem I should have taken into consideration from the start.
Later, after they had cleaned off the siding, we were told that the substance was sticky and more like an adhesive used in construction and they weren’t even sure it had anything to do with our pots. I was pretty sure the source was a few of my larger pots that I had added sheep manure to. That would explain why it was such a dark brown. It was a lesson in what not to put in balcony pots. They were not convinced. It was kind of funny (not in the beginning, but much later) that I was arguing that it was my fault, while they were arguing that it wasn’t. Either way, it was done. The container garden experiment was over. The pots were gone.
That was my loss.
The gain came in September when I visited the community gardens. I had considered getting a plot there last spring, but the idea of only getting a measly 4 X 8 box to garden had seemed too small to bother with. I wasn’t so sure anymore. The pots at the store had worked okay, but they were always in the way and a pain for everyone to work around. The situation had been less than ideal. Even a 4 X 8 box would be better than nothing.
When I arrived at the community gardens I was impressed by how many vegetables the growers had managed to get out of each box. I eyed a few empty boxes with hope and wondered how long the waiting list would be. When I got home I phoned, and to my delight I was told that I could definitely have a box for 2016.
“There’s no real limit,” the organizer informed me. “You could even have two if you wanted.”
Just like that my garden for 2016 had magically been handed to me and doubled in size. I mulled over the words “there’s no real limit” all the way to her office to pay for my plot. When I arrived I summoned my courage and asked, “Could I have four?”
She was quiet for a beat or two, before admitting there were a couple other gardeners who had four beds each, so she supposed that I could have that many if I really wanted to.
I really wanted to.
And then, possibly noting the greedy glint in my eye, she firmly added, “But that’s it. No more than four.”
I couldn’t say thank you enough.
That was my gain.
I am now busy planning out my square foot garden and looking forward to meeting all my fellow gardeners.
Never a door shuts, but a window opens.