Bedroom Gardener: part one

As much as the weather last week has tried to persuade us otherwise, we are approaching the end of the summer season and consequently things are starting to slow down in my greenhouse – sorry, bedroom.

The tomatoes, once the seven-foot kings of my bay window, have been cut back to encourage them to direct their energies to ripening the last few remaining fruits. As determined as I was, back in April, that I would be positively replete with tomato-based foodstuffs by now, the glut I anticipated never quite happened. The Black Russian variety produced about six enormous, deep maroon tinged specimens, which were delicious, and the Rosada plant was the most prolific, producing four beautiful vines of cherry tomatoes. Tigerella, though very pretty (the tomatoes live up to their name, with orange and red stripes) was disappointingly lax in terms of productivity: I had about ten fruits off it over the course of the summer, with a few left to ripen. The Ferlines, described to me as “exceptionally useful for soups and stews” are continuing to swell and redden in these last few days of sunshine – I shall report back on their progress next time.

Chilli plants, I was informed by my mother, were a sensible choice for the bedroom gardener – compact, productive, and aesthetically pleasing. She was right, of course. Perhaps the brief sojourn my fledgling chillis had to her greenhouse whilst I was at Glastonbury can be credited with their success: green wisdom and a sunny patio proved a winning combination and I now have about six chillis on each of my four plants. This may not sound much, but they are powerful little things – one small, green Apache chilli was enough to spice up a large pot of curry the other night.

My orchids remain dormant, stubbornly refusing to flower, though – joy – I have noticed a new leaf on the twin-stem one, which bodes well. The cacti are happy as ever, and the dragon tree is growing at an almost alarming rate since I potted it up. I am planning to begin a hunt for some winter flowering house plants soon – I spotted something with beautiful red berries outside a shop in Morningside a while ago, which I intend to investigate further. I had hoped to put together some sort of herb window box as well but, given Edinburgh’s tendency towards extreme windiness, I’m starting to doubt the wisdom of that. Still, as the weather starts to turn, I’m almost grateful for my lack of a real garden – cold evenings spent weeding are no fun. Evenings in my armchair next to the tomato gang, on the other hand…

Originally published in The Student, 4 October 2011