Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Update from Adelaide

Adelaide, at least in Melbourne, is not known for its forwardness. Life here is more laid back, at least for me who has been drifting between an overindulgence in pay tv and delicious morsels of food. Along with winery touring and a pub visit it hasn't been particularly fast paced.

But don't let that fool you, Adelaide isn't always the stereotype it is purported to be. For starters the weather is supposedly often hotter and drier than Melbourne. Tell that to rain that is bucketing down as I write this post or the ominous clouds congregating above Mum's lemon tree!

Indeed it has been so wet here Mum has had to cover the lime with black plastic just to keep the abundance of moisture out!

The one odd thing in Mum's garden, though, it this little plant. Look closely, know what he is?

A tomato! A cherry tomato, that survived from summer and is thriving, flowering and FRUITING in the middle of winter! Must be something going on here, genetic modification? Mutation? Because it has been quite chilly and wet. Still let's see if it makes it to full fruit. I'll try and update a bit more while I am here, but computer access and internet access is via my Dad's ancient laptop, which has a bit of a fan problem. Indeed it is so loud I keep fearing the thing will explode any second. Stay tuned for more from Adelaide town.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Quickie from out of town

Hi Everyone. Sorry I haven't posted in a while, got swept up in cleaning the house, finishing off marking and packing up my stuff. I have headed back to Adelaide for a few weeks for a bit of R and R. No more thesis for a while, no more Nazi memoirs, no more frerezing cold Melbourne!

Instead I am in Adelaide, which isn't that much warmer than Melbourne but it has family and my parents' puppies and lots more! So I will post about my Mum's garden soon, once I have got the camera out. At present I am sitting by the fire, with two snoring Cavalier King Charles Spaniels on my lap, sipping an Earl Grey and putting a jigsaw together (my parents found it at a market for $2, bargain hunters extraordinaire!)

Enjoy the change of scenery, I know I will! (though I do miss the balcony garden which has been left in the capable hands of Totally Awesome Balcony Sitter The Second)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Dinner Party by the Balcony

Last Friday I had a dinner party. I haven't really posted on it yet because it didn't involve the balcony garden too much. A bit of rosemary in the pie was about it actually!

However, each time I look at the photos I cannot help but drool at the dessert. Double chocolate mousse, which also had chocolate flakes on top, and homemade vanilla bean icecream. Hurricane J also had blue cheese with his but that is another story altogether!

Oh and they also had one of these each on top! (except Miss J due to allergies)

Now for the next Balcony Garden Dinner party, where each dish has to have something from the garden in it!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I am not that Patient

Oh Balcony Garden carrots, why do you take so long to mature? Mum has been harvesting multi coloured roots for weeks now and I swear I planted you first. I know the aphids have been a bit of a pain and it is very chilly for the bits of you poking out of the soil but what is the deal? What do you expect me do while I wait? I could talk to your multi-coloured neighbour the rainbow chard, but even he is not big enough to make a proper meal out of yet.

I could munch on a few snow peas, although they are desperately clinging to their flowers in a final hopeful bid that I wont see them.

I know, I know, you do say to just eat the Bush Bean but methinks you have an unnatural dislike for him. Plus he is taking as long as you to be fully mature.

For now I will just have to learn to be patient. Or else to enjoy eating you when you are small, very small, nay very very very small. It was quite difficult cutting up a 2cm long white carrot for the enjoyment of my dinner party guests last Friday. Apparently you tasted like carrot. How odd! Come on Mr Carrot, have a heart, or, at the very least grow one like the lettuce (or not, that was a very silly analogy). At the very least, just grow up!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Well I posted a couple of days ago about the Jigsaw addiction. I said I was going to start the Geisha girl puzzle given to me by my darling cousin A. I started it Sunday. By Monday it looked like this.

Ooooops!!! And I swear I didn't spend long on it either day! Time for a harder one methinks. Lovely flowers on the puzzle at least.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers Blooms Day June

There really is only one flower in the balcony garden worth mentioning this GBBD, and it is not even out on the balcony. It is inside, in my study to be exact, an offshoot of the original indoor tomato experiment. It is ...

A tomato flower! Yes all of the plants are budding but today, yes today, this one decided to open its yellowness to the world! Now to get to it with the electric toothbrush, pollinate, and wait and hope! So there are a few other blossoms out there, but not many, as it has been a pretty cold start to winter. There are plenty of snow pea blossoms and bush bean blossoms. I am not sure how they survive the mild frosts.

And a few violas and snap dragons also trying desperately to stave off the pain from morning frosts. You can see the burn. The marigolds are going okay, a few lovely bright orange heads, although I had to help them along with the aphid scaring job!

And the lemon tree never seems to stop blooming! Although some are dying off a little without producing fruit.

Another fruit in the garden, the strawberry, has gone white with fright. I know strawberry flowers are usually white but this variety is a lowanna and as seen in previous posts their flowers are a hot pink. I think the cold weather and the move outside has shocked this plant into old age!

The sunflowers are great. These pics are how I view them, the orange one is at my head height, the yellow one, his head is in the clouds! I still haven't seen the flowerhead properly, better get to know my upstairs neighbours!

So there you have it. June in the balcony garden, most blooms relate to possible edibles, and the most important of all is that indoor tomato. Still so excited thinking about it!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Putting the pieces together.

So most of the time I am studying, working, on the balcony in the garden or spending time with friends. In the odd few seconds between these things I do jigsaw puzzles. I love them, but they can't just be any jigsaw puzzle. None of those polar bear in a snow storm thingos where there are no edge pieces and they've added ten extra bits to the box. These need to be a pretty picture, and something that is just hard enough to be a challenge but easy enough for me not to get fed up or frustrated. When I want frustration I write my thesis, end of story. Usually they have flowers or gardens, and often churches or houses. I know it is wierd, and possibly old fashioned but it is a great hobby for keeping the mind active. (As if it isn't active enough already!!!!)

Jigsaws bought in the shop are not cheap. A good twenty to thirty dollars for a decent 1000 piece one. This is something which clearly doesn't fit into my student budget (although I seem to justify the obscene costs of the balcony garden far more easily). However a good place to look for a bargain puzzle is op shops. You have to be careful with these, original wrapping is a must otherwise you'll find yourself 50 pieces short and wondering why the skyline has holes. Remarkably enough it is fairly easy to find puzzles still in their original wrapping! I guess not everyone shares this interest. Borrowing them off friends and relatives is a good way too, although the missing pieces saga can often occur here also. The best one I did in ages I borrowed off my cousin, a kind of 'Where's Wally' scene of London complete with a skeleton riding the red double decker bus and Mary Poppins! Love it, might have to do it again and take a piccie for you all.

I also have great friends and rellies who know my sad interests well. For my birthday I got many lovely things, cookbooks, plants, earings, and these flowers pictured below which filled my living room for a week with their loveliness.

I also got another new jigsaw, which meant I had to hurriedly finish the one I was currently doing (I had also stopped at the op shop on the way, as it was over the road from the pub, and found myself another awesome puzzle there too in its original wrapping! ooops) So in order to dive into these lovely new ones I had to finish the old one. Which I did. et voila!

So now onto the Geisha, then after that a tropical jungle scene.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Indoor Tomato Experiment

Well I told you all I would post on this soon - so here it is, my crazy adventures into winter tomato growing land. Over the Summer I developed an obsession with growing tomatoes. A mysterious wilt curtailed that slightly early but I soldiered on and this time am growing a few plants inside over winter. I chose Siberian tomatoes which can fruit at a lower temperature. They are not frost resistant so I cannot put them outside but they should be ok for this purpose inside. Anyway at first I was just glad to sprout seedlings.

Then to plant two of them into a single pot by the window.

Then I added another single pot to this window sill and another into my newly reclaimed study! Then I got more adventurous. I planted Big Rainbow tomato seeds and White Tomesol tomato seeds to see if they would work. So far they germinated and have been moved to their own pots (three of each) but given the short amount of full sun (only a couple of hours) they are growing very slowly.

On the main plants some of the leaves are curled and a bit yellow but mostly they look quite good for the fact it is winter! They are almost a metre high! At present this is how the Winter Tomato experiment looks.

I planted some basil seedlings in one of the pots, and some basil seed in the other. Fingers crossed it grows.

Each have little flower buds, though some turned yellow and will drop off.

I am beginning to wish that I started this a little earlier. However with the wilt lurking I was worried it would stop the experiment in its early stages.Wonder if they will produce tomatoes at all, and in time for the spring sowing?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Tough Garden Choices With Broccoli

Don't worry, the post on the indoor tomato experiment is on its way. They are now almost a metre tall! Wonders of only a few hours of direct sunlight. Alas I broke my toe last night and that post needs a fair amount of work. Given this pain I decided to go for another smaller but equally as pressing post - about the Purple Sprouting Broccoli. It is growing so so so well as you can see by the pictures below.

Thing is, I only just realised how long it takes from planting to harvest (almost a year). And the pots/spaces it occupies will be needed in several months. So the dilemma is do I keep tending to it now only to pull it in September, or do I pull it now and put in something like silverbeet or lettuce that will crop before the end of the wintery season? I could just pull some of them and leave one or two, because I plan in staggering the tomato planting over the season so maybe just maybe one of the purple sprouting broccolis will sprout? Am I wrong in thinking they take so long?

Decisions, decisions. Thoughts anyone?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A spot of dinner

A late dinner for a long weekend led to snipping bits from the garden in order to scrape together something divine.

It was 8pm, not good for a school night to just be getting home and contemplating food but as Monday was a public holiday (Queen's birthday) the lateness was not too bad, except that we were both realllllllllly hungry. But what on earth could I cook? It had to be gluten free for starters. I hadn't been to the markets in ages and the cupboards and fridge were quite bare save for random purchases. Luckily the freezer was, as usual, stocked with chicken, and there was some rice in the pantry - risotto it was. But a plain chicken risotto, even with salad, would be kind of bland.

So I bit the bullet, and broke off the tiny head of broccoli.

It was delicious in the risotto and you can really taste the difference. Next up was to add some silverbeet, a few leaves from these little guys who have grown a bit more since I moved them to s slightly sunnier spot on the balcony.

Again more yumminess. And to top it all off I added one finely chopped snow pea to the salad.

I found it sweet and crunchy and divine. Hurricane J never managed to find the snow pea in the midst of the salad so alas a second opinion is not available. But overall it was a lovely, quickly put together meal. Just another reason why I love my balcony garden - it can help with the feeding of the masses, or just of the two, at the last minute.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The second sunflower - it's a whopper

Way way way back at the start of the year when I visited my parents in Adelaide and saw that they had a sunflower I was bitten by the bug to grow one of my own. Given that they had a full garden bed to work with and I had only small pots at best (as if I was going to devote one of the larger pots to this experiment) I decided smaller, dwarfish style Sunflowers would be my best bet. I have posted on the sunflowers before and the main flower in that post was the first to flower and had several heads. It is still going, although I pruned the dead heads today, leaving these two lovely orange/yellow flowers.

Now as for the other one, he was a slow bloomer. Instead he wanted to grow up, and up, and, well, up! It was only the other day when he finally flowered that I realised the bloom itself was much more yellow than his companion. These photographs aren't the best, but at over 2 metres tall (the sunflower, not me, I barely make it to five foot 2) this bloom really isn't the easiest to photograph. I stood on a chair on the balcony which was slippery after a nice Winter shower, not the best time to be precariously perched, especially given how accident prone I am!

Thing is, he is over a metre taller than his companion too! To get an idea of his size I have taken various photographs of the balcony and cannot decide which one shows its insanity best so here they all are. Yes those are the penthouse apartments on the floor above me you can see in one of the pictures - he is THAT big!

I have no idea how he got this big. It was an adequately sized pot, a self watering one too and I did give him a lot of water from my shower warm up water (the sunflowers were always thirsty). I guess I did use top level potting mix, the way I do for the veggies and perhaps I fertilised it once, I forget. But whatever the case thise guy is HUGE! And he has several more heads to open. Pity I need a stepladder to film them correctly!

Friday, June 5, 2009

New Best Friends

I posted a little while back on the pitfalls of proper trellising. Most of my snow peas have outgrown their trellises. This intrepid one has wandered over to the lettuce to make friends. As of this morning he is sending one tendril one way over and beyond the lettuce and sending another back to the mothership!

Meanwhile the lettuce, not wanting to get confused with the snowpea, decided to signpost his uniqueness. Apparently the lettuce is lettuce, who woulda thunk it (It was also my lunch today!)