Initial results from the balcony garden innovations

Still no camera, but I’m getting closer to making a selection. My friend Rachel in Chicago (whose tutorial on reverse-painting garments with bleach is a lifesaver for those of us who’ve ruined a shirt with bleach spots) is also a kickass photographer. She pointed me to Snapsort which is a delightfully user-friendly camera comparison site.

After spending the morning drinking coffee, reviewing lists like Best Entry-Level DLSRs, and playing around with my own selection criteria, I’m close to picking the Panasonic Lumix LX5.

I know that there are people (Rachel?) who might think I’m crazy for paying this much for a digicam when I could almost get a DLSR for the same amount. The top DSLR for the same price is the Nikon D3000, and it doesn’t have any video capability, image stabilization, or live image view. We’ll see. I like to sleep on these decisions…

Snapsort is super awesome though. Bookmark it. Before you forget.

Here are some grainy photos of what the balcony garden is doing, courtesy of my little macbook’s photobooth. The neighbors must wonder what I’m doing out on my balcony all the time…if it isn’t holding a laptop up to a tomato plant, it’s taking a bunch of self-portraits while wearing a sweater.

In this next photo some whisps of hair snuck into the shot:

The peas are heartily and happily growing. The strawberries are multiplying and thinking about ripening. The African basil is the saddest – I may try repotting it in different soil and see if that helps. I picked four black milk crates out of a curbside junk pile this afternoon, because the higher the plants are the more sun they’re able to catch throughout the day.

The real winner has been the potatoes. Here’s a reminder of where the potato box started:

Growing potatoes in a box

And here’s where it is today. In one month the plants have rocketed out of the box. I’ve added several bucketfuls of dirt already and soon I’ll need more wood to increase the height of the box.

While the potato box has been (so far) a successful experiment, I’ve unfortunately not been as enthused with the incredibly-promising pallet-turned-planter. When the pallet is stood on end against a wall it’s tricky to water. Do I just water through the top and let it work its way down? Watering from the front causes too much erosion. The message boards on the tutorial site suggest automated watering, but there’s no water spigot near my balcony so I have to cart it in by hand.

Since the soil isn’t very deep it dries out quickly and I worry that the plant roots don’t have enough room. Perhaps it was my mistake to try and use the method for primarily vegetables. Decorative flowers and succulents, as shown in the tutorial, are probably a better fit.



  1. shopregeneration · June 8, 2011

    Somehow got caught up reading your blog after clicking on that fab green sweater on the sidebar of the Cambridge book/knit group! Now I want to go back to Tulum!!!!
    Anyway, let me put in my 2 cents: LUMIX ALL THE WAY!!! I have one and it gets way more use than my hulking Nikon DSL. I even choose it over the nikon sometimes at home (when the weight isn’t an issue), because it does so well in low light conditions. I’m a total cheapskate, and feel like the lumix was worth every penny. -Kelly

  2. tami · June 7, 2011

    your garden is kicking my garden’s ass. of course, we never get any sun here, so maybe that has something to do with it.

  3. Lan · June 7, 2011

    i have a Nikon D3000, which i do like, but it is annoying to tote around. i am currently just using the kit lens which is unsatisfactory but the lenses that i want cost more than the body itself! my cousin has the Nikon coolpix p7000 which i played with and i think that is what i want next… it’s got dslr capabilities but so much more lightweight…

    i am jealous of your garden, it’s coming along so well!

    • foxflat · June 7, 2011

      Thanks Lan! That’s really helpful to hear…it confirms some of my suspicions that as good as a DSLR would be, I might not use it that much because of the size, weight, and lens-fussing. I’ll check out the Coolpix! You take great pictures so I trust your taste 🙂

  4. Ron Olisar · June 7, 2011

    Hi Katie – The Lumix cameras are good, we’ve been pleased with them. If you are considering the LX5, you may want to consider the new Lumix GF2, which is a similar body size, but has a much larger imager (same 17mm x 13mm imager as in their larger DLSRs, for better light sensitivity) and supports interchangable lenses from their DLSR line (without the DLSR body weight). – Ron

    • foxflat · June 7, 2011

      It’s funny you mention that because I juuuust saw an ad for one last night in my new Readymade magazine!! It looks super snazzy Ron. Read is traveling with people who have very nice cameras, so I think he is in full support of us upgrading

  5. becca · June 4, 2011

    Katie – My DSLR is the Nikon D3000… Did you ever play with it?

    • becca · June 4, 2011

      also the Lumix looks AWESOME. if i had to do it again, i might go with it… due in large part to the size/low profile body – WAY easier to take everywhere.

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