Our Balcony Garden

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We decided to try our hand at growing green things this year. Ideally we’d love to have a whole garden and grow things in the ground, but our apartment living has relegated our experiment to our balcony and pots. This is our second round of growth. The first round of basil, mint, and cilantro was wiped out my some kind of aphid infestation.

All of our plants have come from seeds. We have used a miniature plastic greenhouse to start growing the seeds which has worked great, although it might have led to the demise of our cilantro by making them grow too quickly and getting top-heavy. When the seedlings reached the miniature greenhouse lid, we planted them in real pots and left them outside.

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This second round of plants consists of basil (in the two small rectangular planters), purple tomatillos (in the large rectangular planters), and tomatoes (in the large pots). Hopefully the basil will grow big and strong and we can make some yummy pesto and the purple tomatillos sounded like they would make an excellent and visually stimulating salsa. The tomatos were given to us as seeds of two different types already planted in small pots. Of course we now have no idea which type is which because the cat knocked the pots, soil and seeds off the table before they could make it to the balcony. We were still hopeful and pushed the soil back into the pots and put them outside. Despite their rough beginnings they have grown big and strong!

Oh yeah… and our little aloe plant is as happy as can be, even if we do forget to water it!

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The Mall at Punta Carretas

We have now been to this mall twice. Once to try and find phones and this time to try and find fresh herbs. It is approximately a two mile walk from our house. The supermarket near our house has some fresh herbs, but doesn’t have cilantro, parsley or dill. We wanted to get some cilantro to include in our next project, making empanadas!

Entrance to the Punta Carettas mall.

The mall is very similar to malls in the U.S. There are lots of stores, lots of little places to eat. They have a food court that includes the token chinese food, mexican food, McDonalds and Burger King. We couldn’t really understand why the lines were so long at the McDonalds and Burger King when people could get fresh made chivitos, pasta, or pizza for the same price or cheaper. I bet it has something to do with the super-size coke. Most other places include drinks that are small (i.e. less than a can of soda), whereas McDonalds has the same 20 oz beverage as their small size. We enjoyed the chivitos and fresh pasta!

The mall is huge. It has three separate floors and skylights in the ceiling. There seem to be a lot of people wandering the mall on the weekends, possibly taking advantage of the air conditioning. In the summer this can be a big deal, as most people and other small stores don’t have air conditioning.

Inside the Punta Carettas mall looking down from the third floor.

The mall has a movie theater. Matinee price is about $6US and regular price is about $8. It looked like all the movies were in spanish so that might be a good adventure for the future.

There are many lots of little stands selling a variety of goods including: phones, hair bands, scarves, mate paraphernalia, jewelry, and trinkets. Most of the stores are fairly small and packed with merchandise. Many things are expensive. For example, a large paperback book can cost more than $20US. Again, the more expensive things are those that are imported.

There is a very large supermarket in the mall which has a wonderful produce section where we found our cilantro and dill. In most independent stores, including the supermarket at the mall, people are required to deposit their bags into a locker before going into the store. Stores have lockers with keys set up at the entrances just for this purpose. People are allowed to take purses with them into the store, but not backpacks or shopping bags. A security guard usually observes. I guess this is one of the measures put into place to deter petty theft.