Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Belated Blog Birthday

My Blog turned three, and I didn't even notice! ooooooopsss. Sorry blog. That means the balcony garden is more than three years old! And boy has it changed over time - from this in its first year:

to this!

It has grown up and out and over and through. Well happy belated birthday blog!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Garlic Breath

Gosh do I love garlic, though it doesn't really like me. It has to be cooked, and cooked well, or I get a little case of the ouchy insides. But never mind that because I love garlic and eat it on a regular basis (leading to rampant garlic breath ... maybe that's why I'm still single ... or it could be the workaholism, alcoholism, and utter nutjobism ... nah totally the garlic!)

It goes in garlic soup, in stir fries, chilli, goodness I even just cook it up and add it to a salad. It is healthy (as viewed in most cultures) and has some medicinal benefits (again seen by most, but not all cultures)

Mike over at Urban Organic Gardener had a great, detailed post on growing garlic - though note for us Aussies, planting time isn't until Autumn, early Winter. Most people follow the rule of planting garlic on the shortest day of the year, and pulling it out on the longest day of the year. It's probably the best rule of thumb, but as usual I throw rules out the window. I planted this year's crops back in April and May and a last lot in June. Most of the tops are dying off now (or have already died off) which means it is ready for harvest.

And harvest I did - well 3 of the pots at least. The spoils were pictured at the beginning of this post. There are about 3 more pots last to harvest. They're small cloves, but boy do they pack a punch. Tasty, bitey yet slightly sweet?!?!? I've been using them where I can and gave a few away to friends. The haul is small, pots don't allow for much soil, so I fertilised these guys often. Maybe I need to plant elephant garlic to get a decent sized clove?!

Garlic takes ages, but it is well worth the wait in my view. And I plant them in slightly shallower pots (probably hurts the size factor) but it means I can layer then around the garden around the bigger pots for variety and a play with height.

Do you grow garlic? Do you have any tips to share? What's your cure for garlic breath?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Springtime for Mister Balcony Garden

Yes it has been a while, a very long while. Spurts of writing here and there but when you have cranked out 100 000 words on man's darker side you tend not to want to write much at all. Slowly I managed to start reading again (non-work books) and teaching took me away from Nazis, but still I couldn't muster the word-power to get back on this blog. But hopefully the winds of change are in town, and the inept balcony gardener can write once more. But just because I haven't written doesn't mean I haven't been gardening! Just take a look at the pic above, and you will see the balcony garden is going very well indeed. No camera cord yet (blame laziness and forgetfulness) so the pics in today's post are brought to you by my trusty little Motorola. Not bad either, if you ask me.

Above is most of the balcony at the end weeks of Spring. It is green, full of spiders and snails and vegetables and fruits are on their way. The flowers of spring have mostly died off, but I plan on adding a few pockets of annual colour here and there, mostly to attract some more bees. The abutilons are attracting birds (much to my delighted surprise) and the lemon and lime blossom works a treat on the bees but you can never have too much wildlife. Speaking of wildlife my neighbour's cat has discovered how to climb the fence, so he is an occasional visitor when I'm lucky.

But what about my pretties? The apples ... they're fruiting amazingly (I almost shed a tear thinning these)

Both the golden delicious and the granny smith have a few fruit left on them. I'm intrigued to see how well they grow.

Tomatoes are also thriving, some planted earlier than others. I'm trying a few varieties to see if they can outrun the early death. No hardcore boring hybrids this year with germ resistance. Instead I planted what I wanted, whether it is a softie and falls down dead at the hint of blight, or is a trusty old workhorse. I chose for flavour, variety, and what was in the shop at the time!!! Two green zebras, a lemon drop, a red tumbler and a black russian round out this year's contenders. I also planted a mortgage lifter in my friend's garden in the hope that it'll grow and she can supply the tomato crack. Here's a pic of the flowering and fruiting red tumbler.

There are also pumpkins (I'll do a whole post of them later) in a pot with corn and beans. Ok when I say pot, I mean mega pot, and yes, I'll post on it all very soon. I actually have two mega pots! There are also figs (just a pic of a bit of Mr Fig Twig below, but there are little fruits growing), nectarines (no pics), lemons (might be more than one this year!!!) and more. Garlic, mint (2 kinds, well 1 in a hanging basket and 1 that's been ravaged by the snails) lettuce, basil and so much more.

Right now we are getting a Spring shower, and the temperature has dropped. It makes me want to go sit in the Garden with a cuppa tea (or a long island version) and take in the Springy goodness. Instead it is back to first year essays! Until next time (and trust me, it won't be so long between posts.)