Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Ok, I lie a little, it really is just one ripe tomato, and it is long gone now but it is, indicative of things to come! I wanted to post this for harvest monday but TFA has been keeping me busy. I snuck a spare 5 minutes between readings to post this picture of the FIRST ripe tomato on the balcony garden for 2012. It was eaten on Sat, 24th November.

Not the earliest tomato we've had, but it was certainly delicious. There is another cherry tomato ripening on the same tumbler hanging pot bush, and I am hopeful that some of the larger varieties follow suit soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tomatoes, Friends, Help

First of all I send my heart out to Missy Piggy who lost her tomatoes to attack by caterpillars blossom end rot. Time for a caterpillar armageddon methinks, as well as some crushed eggshells in the dirt to help the blossom end rot. Finger crossed you get more (or at the plants gone??? there's still time to replant.)

Another friend has been growing Siberian tomatoes here in Melbourne. Now, I know a fair bit about tomatoes, how to grow them, how to eat them, and how to fix a few problems. But I was perplexed by my friend's tomato problem and thought you could help. What's up with this one?:

It has been growing well so far in a raised bed, but n ow has these crinkly bits. Usually rolled up leaves happen at certain times of the day, and it is simply a moisture loss thing, but I've never seen this before. is it even a problem and if so what is it? Tomato-knowitalls to the rescue!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Harvest Monday

Today we harvested ...

IF ONLY! That deliciousness isn't quite ready yet. I doubt I'll see any of the tomatoes ripen before I head off for my Teach for Australia 6 week Intensive, but a girl can only dream. We have cherry ones too:

But we have been easting other yummy things, like some small bits of celery and a tonne of lettuce. Microgreens in every salad and garlic in the cooked things (I'm allergic to raw garlic.)

There should be some amazing havest monday posts in my future because we have 28 tomatoes, 3 golden zucchini, 3 white cucumbers, 2 laden apple trees, a white eggplant, a black capsicum and many, many pots of celery, lettuce, herbs and more. Not bad for a little balcony garden.

Thanks to my lovely other half for the great photos.

If you want to see other people's Monday harvests head on over the Daphne's Dandelions.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Space and how you use it

Following up on queries about just how big my garden is and how I fit so much in there, here are some pics, and some points to help shed some light. This is my balcony from each end:

So you can see it is quite long, not so wide, and shaded in 1/3rd of it by some slats. It is about using whatever space I can to plant the things that I want, and throwing out all sage gardening advice about planting spacings. Here are some more pointers:
  • I once saw this amazing lady on Gardening Australia who has a 'proper in the ground' garden, i.e. a plot with ample space, and she used every square centimetre. Traditional plant spacings went out the window as beans heaped upon more beans and lettuces sidled right up to herbs. And you know what - despite the fears of gardening gurus - her garden was magnificent. Things grew and fruited and flowered and all was well. So, in honour of her, I say to hell with the garden advice, do what you like and plant as closely as you darn well feel like it (just remember which plants are good and bad neighbours.) I mean, what's the worst that can happen? They might die? Well I hate to break it to you but plant death is just a part of gardening. But so is experimenting and finding out what varieties work at what spacings and in what part of the balcony. And really, if they don't work out, then don't plant so much  next season. Don't believe me? See the lettuce below - they should have a good 25-30 cms between them according to normal logic - but that's only a 40cm long pot and that's at least 6 plants in there. Sure they didn't grow massive, but they have lasted several weeks worth of meals, and when they're done, I can grow two more crops in their place before the summer is out (new soil, new or cleaned pot of course.)

  • Or you could grow corn and beans in a medium sized pot. Two of the three sisters in action right here:

  • Better yet, grow 6 types of tomatoes, basil, lettuce and celery in the same pot, I dare ya! (to get an idea of size, this is two large polystyrene containers placed together. We call in megapot here in the balcony garden.

  • It is all about having a mixture, of plant types (vegetable, fruit, tree, flower, native, succulent, etc) of plant heights and planting spaces. Big pots, little pots, vertical pots, hanging pots, fit them in however you can.
  • Don't scrimp on potting mix, if you want lovely flowers and ample veg in small spaces you have to have or make the best. It isn't cheap, and on a student budget I find it tough, but it is something I wont budge on.
  • Vermiculite is also your really, really good friend.
  • Grow things that you like to eat and look at. If you don't like tomatoes, or are allergic to strawberries then don't waste space on them. Can't stand lobelias, then don't plant them. And don't get stressed about free range planting and letting the garden wander where it wants. Worried that those tomatoes could grow to be over 2 metres high and simply wont fit the trellis - awesome! Let's see where they do once they outgrow the trellis. Let the garden amaze and inspire you and lead you to where it wants/can go.
  • Always check the amount of weight your balcony can carry - we don't want it crumbling under the weight of soil and pots and taking you down with it. Plastic pots are a balcony gardeners best friend.

So really just have fun with it and keep experimenting. You'll fill your space and just when you think you can't fit any more plants in you will find more places and ways of getting them in there.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Harvest Monday

Harvest central time on the balcony garden - it is lettuce, lettuce, lettuce leading the way. I can't tell you how many salads we've been enjoying made from this little pot of lettuce. It never seems to end. My favourite was a smoked salmon salad.

We also added some microgreens from this collection as well as a few stray basil leaves from the snail ravaged plants. I figured we may as well enjoy them before the snails finish them off!

Garlic too is beginning to be harvested. The first lot of heads were small, probably not quite ready, but their space was needed and they were wilting so out they came.

And here is a little hint of future harvests ...

With 28 tomato plants in the balcony garden this year, surely we will get at least one delicious little love apple!?!

More harvest posts can be found over at Daphne's Dandelions where she hosts Harvest Monday weekly.