Friday, September 28, 2012

My place smells like lemons and limes

Out on the balcony the lime and lemon blossoms are making it smell like a perfume factory. After pruning the lime tree, the living room gets to smell just as good.

Yes that is a lime on that branch, but better to leave it on than put it in the fruit bowl. At least for now.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Up with the old and in with the new


The saying is usually out with the old and in with the new. I definitely got the last part right this week in the balcony garden, but the first bit was a little different. Instead of removing plants, I potted some up into bigger surroundings, leaving their pots vacant for newcomers. Oh and I guess I threw out the dead plants from megapot and a few others but who's being pedantic anyway?

Out - Winter greens such as broccoli, kale, snowpeas.

Up - Lime tree and Mr Fig twig into the biggest possible pots
        Hibiscus into the Lime tree's pot
In - Lots of Basil
      Mini White Cucumbers x 2
      Jerusalem Artichokes x 2
      Mixed Lettuce
      Corn x 2 lots of 5
      Purple Bush Beans with the Corn x 2 or 3 per pot
and ...

MORE TOMATOES!!! So many tomatoes. I might be dooming myself to failure, but fingers crossed    the varieties take off. Including the earlier planting discussed in this post, the varieties thus far are:

Red: Mortgage Lifter x 4
        Cherry Red x 2 (plus one more seedling but I might give that away)
        Red Tumblers x 3
        Oxheart (plus again I have a spare seedling which I might give away)

Green: Green Zebra x 2
           (seedling procured but yet to be planted) Aunt Ruby's German Green x 2
Yellow:  Golden Cherry Tomatoes x 3 (two in a large pot with the two red cherries and one on its own)
             Yellow tumbler (I wanted more of these but alas their hardly ever in the shop)
             Wapsipinicon Peach Tomato

Black: Black Krim x 2
           I had a black russian planted but it was very sickly so it got pulled early.

I have my eye on this dwarf heirloom mix from diggers, which would bring the tally, once all planted up to over 20 plants. That's a lot of tomato plants to die off if things go wrong, which they tend to do in this precarious little environment. Fingers crossed we have success this year.  

There is one megapot of tomatoes yet to be planted. The peach tomato, aunt ruby's german green and most of the heirloom mix are earmarked for it. Also, possibly, my lovely other half's mother may have a couple more seedlings for me which we will squeeze in somewhere.

Apart from putting cucumbers into the garlic pots once the garlic is harvested there isn't much more planting to do for the next few months. Time to sit back and  nurture this rather massive and diverse crop.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hanging Snow Peas

 Yep that's a hanging pot, and yup that's some snow peas. HUH????!!!?? Downwards headed snow peas? Snow peas are meant to climb up a trellis, or pole, or whatever you put in the ground to help support their upward sprawl. But not downwards. I usually make a trellis out of poles and old stockings which works a treat to help them climb. However, this year I tried something new, and much to my surprise it really worked well.

You see a few months ago I realised one of the hanging baskets was empty, and I wasn't sure what to put in it. In summer it holbs tumbler tomatoes and in the past it has been ardorned with flowers or other such things in the winter months. Last year I  just took it down and left a blank space. This year I wanted to experiment, so I threw in some leftover dwarf snow pea seeds. I expected they'd not like the small space, may trellis themselves up the hanging bits, or might just self combust in an act of blatant mutiny. At least they sprouted, so phase one clearly worked.

However, I gave them a slim to none chance of forming a downward habit and draping over the side. Thus heading north, or carking it. But, after a slow start, they did plunge southwards, pulling themselves up and over the edge and heading downward.

I thought gravity might cause the stems to break but no, they were sturdy and bore a lot of snow peas!

I'll definitely try this again next Winter. I have quite a few hanging pots in the garden so I'd like to see if they work equally well. I guess sometimes experiments do pay off. Have you ever gone against the rules in your gardening and succeeded?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Where did Mr Currant Go?

There was a blank space for a nanosecond on the balcony garden. Blink and you missed it. It is now filled with newly emerging corn shoots and some beans. But what was there before? It had been there several years, prosperous at first then slowly dwindling away, disliking its potbound abode.

It was Mr Currant, and overwinter he looks like this:

In spring he began to grow back, with little leaves visible in the blurry picture below.

But by then it was too late,  I'd made up my mind that he was a goner. There just wasn't room for him in this little balcony and he needed to be a free range currant, to roam free in the larger expanse of a real garden. Or the bin.

But I couldn't bin him. We'd been through years together, through many delicious small harvests around Christmas time. He knows I always wanted a white currant and he is ok with that. So what happened to Mr Currant you ask ...

He now lives with my dear friends and their 2 year old son in Bacchus Marsh. He seems to have survived the transplant so hopefully he gives them some years of harvesty enjoyment. Bye bye Mr Currant.

Monday, September 17, 2012

To all the smokers out there

To all the smokers out there please see the picture below for two uses for an ashtray. Both are far more wonderful than using these receptacles to assist your dirty habit. On the left we have an ashtray acting as a repository for stray violas. On the right we have an ashtray acting as a shallow well. Add the contents of the one on the right to the one on the left for best results.

* To any of my smoker friends out there (who are the reason I have an ashtray on the balcony in the first place) I wish no offence and love you all dearly, but really, surely, this might just be a healthier option ...

Harvest Monday of Champions

I guess I've been a bit busy sewing to remember to post Harvest Mondays. But it doesn't mean we've not  had harvests despite the chilly start to spring.

There has been a few small serves of snow peas, swiss chard, kale and broccoli (the last one isn't pictured, because my other half hates it so it is always seperate and mostly forgotten when the camera is about.) I'm using some more of the kale and chard tonight in a stir fry to use up some amazing pulled pork and to celebrate 10 months with my lovely other half.

I also harvested the last of the current crop of megapot carrots, though the bugs got more of these than me.

I am about to remove the broccoli and snow peas to make way for more tomatoes, so the harvests might be quite lena for a few weeks. That said there is some lettuce coming along and if the snails don't eat it all we will have basil soon. Here are the tomatoes just itching to get in the ground:

Want to see more substantial harvests? Head on over to Daphne's Dandelions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Hot Poppies

I never really thought much of poppies. I love going to Hot Poppy for breakfast (they do a mean French Toast) and it's not like I have a life devoid of poppies. Sure there is the version linked with war remembrance that features heavily in the Australian landscape at various times of the year, and there is the more nefarious version featured in various documentaries about Afghanistan and its neighbours. It is just not a plant I seek out to grow. That all changed with a random Rockery Seed Mix that I threw in megapot. It already brought the beauties of Balsam and Allysum. But it also has not yielded some lovely California Poppies of various colours. The ubiquitous orange:

and also some lovely, creamy yellow flowers:

and some soft, dusty pink.

 The flowers don't last long, and if picked and put in a posy they end up a hot mess in a couple of days. However, overall they've added a hot burst of spring colour to the balcony garden and cost next to nothing. They're a winner in my books.

And finally - check out the foreground blurred bit in the above image - Mr Fig Twig is finding his leaves again! Yippeee

Friday, September 7, 2012

Nectarine Blossomfest 2012

The nectarine tree is always the first to blossom on the balcony. I guess you could argue that the lemon and the lime both really take that honour as they had blossoms well before the nectarine, but given they don't seem to ever stop blossoming I thought I'd take them out of the competition.

The first hint of flowers came a few week's back and I posted about it in GBBD. I'm still surprised this guy stands up to the conditions, I mean he lives so close to the airconditioning unit! Then again it blows out, not sideways, so he is actually pretty sheltered.

More and more blossoms joined the bloomfest, and even leaves began to poke through.

Now only two things remain, and both of them waiting games:

1. Will any of the blossoms turn to fruit?
2/ Will curly leaf strike again (highly likely)

Culry leaf is a major problem in Melbourne with certain stonefruit. It can be somewhat combatted with spraying but the timing has to be right and half the time curly leaf hits anyway. It weakens the tree a bit, and there may be less fruit, but I find it rights itself most of the time. Last year the plant got curly leaf early in the season, then shed those leaves and grew new, non-visibly infected ones. It went on to produce 3 lovely nectarines (one was a surprise) and seemed relatively happy and healthy.

The tree has way more blossom than last year, but that doesn't always translate into more fruit. So many factors are at play here, weather, pollinators, and luck. Fingers crossed I get a few goodies.

What's blossoming in your garden?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Kermit's Other Flowers

Miss Piggy joined the blog follower recently so all say hi to Miss Piggy!!! Thought it only fitting to focus a post upon Kermit's other roses,  well flowers, well indoor plants of sorts. Kermit, the resident indoor pot plant collector was pictured in a recent post with his current floral friend, the ranunculus. But this wasn't his first foray into pot hoarding. He got his first go in indoor por maintenance with a succulent:

He also has a fling with the daphne, but that was short lived and remains unphotographed. He even doted on this random other indoor plant that my Mum grew for me. (in this pic it is behind him, but you get the idea.)

Kermit also isn't the first non-plant dweller in the balcony garden. Remember the lego?? (you can see it in the title picture of this blog.)  Well there are some new adornments in the garden, gifted to me by a lovely cousin. Behold the dragonflies, one with the lemon tree, the other at the base of an apply tree.

Looks like I need to do some weeding! Adds a bit of fun to the balcony garden don't you think.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

2012 Tomato Plantings (thus far)

It may only be August (well ok September by a whole 10 hours, but these seedlings went in a week ago so I'm still claiming August) but it is tomato time again on the balcony. This time of year is still pretty cold and wet and wintery so most Melbourne gardens can't plants such frost tender crops yet but the balcony garden has its own little microclimate and it is awesome. It means tomatoes are best planted as early as possible, to get the most out of them before the myserious wilt hits. Last year I didn't plant many because of the disaster the year before (see aforementioned wilt) but this year I returned with cautious optimism to a slightly larger planting of love apples.

In the first corner we have a red tumbler, first 'mato in and already growing strong.

In the green pot we have two mortgage lifters (my favourite) and a slightly sickly looking black russian. I couldn't get a decent photo of these and the perspective is really out on the first one - but they do have quite a bit of room in here. I've grown corn in this pot before, and zucchinis and other large plants so the 'matoes will have plenty of space.

In here we have four cherry tomatoes, two golden, two red.

And this lone ranger is another golden cherry. He isn't in the best spot in the garden, tucked away behind the mint but really he is just a leftover seedling so if he thrives it is simply a bonus.

Mega pot will also be housing some tomatoes, namely another black russian and two green zebras plus another one or two depending on my whims. Just have to wait to find seedlings. The balcony garden may be ahead of the rest of Melbourne but the nurseries are catering to the masses and don't have a large selection in stock yet. I just lucked upon these seedlings in Van Loon's nuresry in Ocean Grove while visitng the lovely other half's mother, but most Melbourne nurseries aren't stocked with as many yet.

I can smell the BLTs already - or maybe that's just the roast veg and quinoa salad I'm making for lunch!

Oh and here is the  new birdseye chilli. He just wanted to say he was planted last weekend too!  Whatever ... you're just a chilli!