Balcony planning

For some reason I found it really hard to get to grips with a plan for the balcony. Perhaps because it’s a space that at the moment we really don’t use (since it overlooks the road, although it also overlooks the river, and which I’m aware has no nearby water source.*

I’ve already done a survey, a sector/zone analysis, and some research on north-facing plants** but I’m still not feeling hugely inspired. However… planting season is coming up, and I’d like to put something out there.

As a result, I’ve constructed an interim plan, with nothing permanent and no huge time, money, or effort investment at this point. It’s a fairly small space, long and narrow. The plan looks like this:

  • A couple of pots (at least 9″ deep) of peas at each end, against the fence dividing our balcony from next door on each side. I’m not sure how well these will do, as it may be a bit too shady, but I have loads of pea seeds so may as well give it a go.
  • A collection of pots/troughs/containers along the railing, with a mix of salad greens (rocket and lettuce), nasturtiums, marigolds, alpine strawberries, violets, plumbago, and pansies (the pansies are already there). Perhaps also some poppies as I have some seeds from last year.
  • A big pot of mint (transplants from the back garden).
  • Chuck in a few seed bombs — I have some from EAT 2011 and some from a Christmas present exchange.

I’m considering mini kiwis for next year, but I’ll see how this year goes first. I don’t want anything too tall or too vigorous to grow along the railing as it would get in the way of the view of the river from the sofa.

This is my task list, then:

  • Move all the big pots up to the balcony.
  • Fill all the containers with compost.
  • Throw in my existing seeds (rocket, lettuce, nasturtiums, marigolds, poppies, seed bombs).
  • Order some violets (plants here; apparently it’s the wrong time of year for seeds), plumbago (blue or white), and alpine strawberries (plants or seeds).
  • Transplant some mint into a big pot, possibly amidst some of the seed mix.

I’ll update once everything’s planted…

* There’s a drainpipe at one side, which I could put a diverter into for a small water-butt, but I think I’d need to talk to the neighbours on that side about it, and we never really see them.
** It turns out that I already wrote a version of this up last summer, which goes to show what’s happened to my memory of late.

Taking action on International Women’s Day

Yesterday I took myself off to meet up with Reclaim It! for a mystery direct action on International Women’s Day. It’s a while since I’ve written legal numbers on my arm and I was a little nervous given that I didn’t have Leon with me… but my excessive caution proved unnecessary. We arrived at the Women’s Library to find a few women already peacefully in occupation, the staff seemingly unfazed, and members of the public still visiting the fabulous Long March to Equalityexhibition on its last day.

The Women’s Library is about to be moved out of its purpose-built home to the LSE Reading Rooms, something supporters see as more of an abduction than a rescue. The current building is amazing and easily accessible to the public (it’s not clear what will happen to public access when it moves to LSE, but the library certainly won’t exist in its independent form any more) and it’s shocking that it’s just going to be moved out of there.

The occupation was protesting both the library’s closure, and opposing the cuts, which have a disproportionate effect on women. It was a great atmosphere — cakes and a samba band! — and although I had to head home yesterday afternoon, they’re still there now and you can go down to join them at 25 Old Castle St, London E1 7NT — various workshops and events, and a kids space, are running today. It’s also a fabulous final opportunity to see the exhibition (which I thoroughly enjoyed) the day after it was due to be shut down.