Thursday, November 27, 2008

the basil society

The First thing i ever grew on the balcony was basil. Regular sweet and tasty, my ever present and essential Italian cooking friend. It loved the sunny space and usually managed to avoid flowering and wilting away (with a little pinching help) until well into winter. Twas the envy of my friends.

Then i discovered my adventurous gene and plain old basil got some new friends. We have lemon basil, Thai basil, a wierd ruffley basil, random basil with some dots on it, but i can't seem to work out what kind of basil it is,

purple basil!

It is a basil carnivale on my balcony, unless the spider mites get it all first.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Lunch today, tuna salad with homegrown mixed lettuce, herbs, baby carrots (from finally thinning them) market bought yellow and red baby romas and of course tuna.


would've taken a photo
but i ate it alllllllllllllllllll up!

Monday, November 24, 2008

new additions to the tomato part and some funky flowery thingos ooohhh and cooking, don't forget the cooking

Here are some recent additions to my balcony paradise over the last couple of weeks

two green zebras with my basil seedlings. (yes this time i gave them a decent(ish) sized pot each)

a San Marzano for those perfect Margherita Pizzas

an indoors tumbler tomato

and some lovely red and yellow flowers!

With additions means that something is leaving, or soon to be leaving the garden.

well ok the only plant to have left was a pot of coriander that ended up roots and all in my housemate's prize winning soup.

But some of the first produce left the garden today - bound for the night's stirfry.

Some snow peas, Thai basil (unless i picked the wrong one, i get them mixed up on occasions) and a bunch of coriander. Yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmm I love this home gardening thing!

and the stirfry wasn't half bad either.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mr Floppy

Mr Floppy

got the choppy

now he looks like this

RIP Mr Floppy - may the small cactus you leave behind be as fruitful and full of phallic jokes as you allowed us)

In memorium of Mr Floppy - the first ever plant in the balcony garden (well technically it only ever made it to the balcony for a day or two before settling on the window sill)

I'll never doubt the electric toothbrush theory again

The balcony garden suffers from so many woes -

1. the inept gardener (myself) that it is left with
2. overcrowding from the start
3. an inability to balance out the days of too much love (seasol overkill, too much watering in an inebriated state) with the days of no love (i'm not home, or uni work takes hold and i am more interested in the western front advance of a memoir writing German soldier than i am in tending to the greenery)
4. a ridiculous extreme of weather patterns thanks to global warming, and a lovely and sunny (if not too sunny in summer) position
5. no effective bug control method, rather a mish mash of techniques, which forms a mouse, cat, dog, elephant Dr Seussian scenario of escalation.

Still it is there, and boy is it green. My latest problem project were the larger heirloom and non-heirloom tomatoes. They were bushy and green and growing and flowering prolifically but suffering one doozy of a case of blossom drop. Their smaller cherry cousins were fruiting adequately and i thought the windy position was enough to ensure pollination.

And someone, actually a few someones, suggested i try my hand a manual pollination via an electric toothbrush. To this point a friend and i giggled - jokes about hand jobs and plants ensued, and we both pondered just who thought of putting this vibrating bathroom implement to work in the outdoors arena. Jokes aside - i tried it. And viola - blossom drop curbed in its tracks.

The cherry are fruiting even more

the random K-mart tomoato trusses are filling

the yellow tomato which was the main culprit was beginning to show signs of fruiting

the Tommy Toes continue to grow

and the black russian, which i had almost lost all hope of ever tasting a home grown benefit of, has begun to fruit!

viva la electric revolution

now what other ingenious ideas do i need to try out ... and will it work on the strawberries which have all of a sudden decided they do not like me

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Teeny Tiny Confession

I feel compelled to ask for absolution, the guilt is piling high, higher than any stake in the pots on the balcony can handle and i think letting it out in print will be the only thing to right the wrong that unfolded the other evening.

In drought addled Melbourne we have water restrictions, a necessary evil to keep water use at an almost acceptable level (though i do feel more could be done - i mean our upstairs neighbours have the world's longest showers which really are using most of Melbourne's water supply daily!!!) However i must admit, i was an inadvertant culprit one night. We do the usual tricks in our place, saving the warm up water, the veggie washing water and all those glasses of water that pile up when i am working tend to end up on the plants if i feel they are all too stale for my precious tastes.

Now one night, in the not so distant past i went out for a bite to eat with friends (Yummy food, frum Ghurka's on Lygon, highly recommended) and managed to imbibe a fair amount of wine at the same time. One would probably be inclined to call me pretty amusingly intoxicated. Euphoric a friend and i ventured home - to find the daytime sun had seriously dried out the balcony paradise. In my drunken delirium i proceeded to dump all the household water i could find on the plants (no true thought as to how bad overwatering could also be) I blame that last glass of red but for some reason i accidently supplemented this watering can frenzy with some evian from the tap. What's worse was with my impaired judgement a major overwatering was a given, and inebriated friend and i almost ended up jumping puddles in the balcony.


Most people complain about a drunk dial, or a drunken fling, and once i had a friend who drunkenly stole a cactus but i've never heard a tale about a drunken watering binge

At least i didn't water them with the pinot noir!

But what was worse than accidently drunkenly breaking water restriction ... 5 minutes later the storm clouds swarmed in and dumped a fair amount of rain on the balcony (cooool lightening too). Overwater from my glove and overwater from above.

So there it it - my confession! I feel no less guilty, but hopefully next time i have a tipple i won't reach for the wateringcan.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Several Weeks on in real time - a few days in blogland

Ok so i realised those last few pics of the balcony oasis were a little out of date (if i recall rightly they were circa the AFL grand final).

To keep my mind off the Election (yay Obama!!!!) i decided to update the photo gallery.

Behold the balcony as it now exists.

Yummy overcrowded Carrots.
Tomatoes (random K-marts and Tommy Toes are fruiting!!!, Basil, Marigolds)
The Green Zebras, Tigerellas, Mortgage Lifters and Black Russians, all happily cozied in a single pot had a bit of a fight with some bugs but luckily seem to have come out on top

Equally overcrowded Snowpeas.
Succulent Corner is the only part which seems to be in right sized pots

And look there are little tiny tomatoes on the yellow cherry, tommy toe and random K-mart tomato.

We also purchased a brand new hanging basket to repot the succulent, except that it ended up housing a new tomato plant! oops

And even indoors things are going great guns! Except that the rather large cactus is having a case of Mr Floppy

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The History of the Balcony Garden

There are some things i am good at. I am a fairly adept hand in the kitchen, and given i study 10 to 12 hours a day i think (hope) that is something i am also good at.

Gardening, however, is not something i have a clue about.

But it is a relatively recent addition to my obsessions.

Soooooooo along with my long suffering housemate i have taken to testing out my green thumb on our little patch of tiled wonderland of a balcony in inner(ish) city Melbourne.

Today's post will show you the state it is in until relatively recently - and i hope over the weeks to record just what i get up to in this pseudo garden.

I mostly don't know what i am doing, but am having fun trying!

Above is how it has looked in the past, one giant basil bush (that of course did not last out the winter) and a lemon tree harbouring friendly pot dwelling friends.

It has since undergone a bit of a development, and alongside the lemon tree and new basil (genovese, purple and lemon varieties) we have the addition of tomatoes (several varieties all haphazardly staked andoverplanted in pots that are far too little but then again only the hardy survive in this place), carrots, lettuce, snow peas (refer above comment regarding overcrowding and poor staking) coriander, succulents, parsley, thyme, rosemary and well so so so much more!

see the pictures below for an idea of how it looked a few weeks ago.

Now the lovely greenness is not limited to the balcony. We have a lovely sunny window, so what better than to fill it with random plants.

We have strawberries, basil and random cacti - succulents

So jump on board and lets see if i can't green up my own little back of Melbourne