Sunday, November 22, 2009
Let's start off to the left...
So far so green... My herbs have been picking up for which I'm grateful. I am thrilled my basil is thriving! Its my favourite herb and I've been twiddling my thumbs waiting for it to grow. Needless to say its had a lot of use in the past few weeks. I have some purple 0pal basil seedlings coming up and I hope they do well. The only disappointment with my herbs was the death of my thyme.. I've sown some seeds and I'm hoping they come up soon... Its my most used herb and I'm missing it.
My solitary remaining zucchini is outwardly healthy. So healthy its taken up the entire pot which I wouldn't begrudge it bar the fact I'm getting no zucchinis from it! Oh there are plenty of babies/female buds which is admittedly a step further than my last attempt, which is great.. but I'm at a loss of how to fertilise them. Now you're all going to rush to comment about the process and I know what I'm supposed to do, but the fact is the female flowers never open. I am now experimenting with tearing them open when I have a male flower and trying to pollinate them that way. I feel like I'm violating them! I'm not expecting good results... but why do they die before the flowers open? I'm missing some mineral or something aren't I? Anyway.. here are all my non-pollinated baby zukes in all their glory.
They're a round variety of zucchini btw, if you're wondering at their odd shape, and even not-matured, quite beautiful imho.
Speaking of fertilising... I had no problem with my fruiting... Strawberries!
I picked my second (yes... I've had a whole 2!) ripe stawberry this morning. I am happy to report there are many more coming =) They are alpine strawberries and most are quite ugly, odd-shaped looking things but my mum swears they were the best tasting variety they had in Poland and so far I'm convinced. They are tiny though.
Now bypassing cacti and umbrella trees, in the middle of the balcony we have my happy purple/green, white striped plant (for which I have no name) that is absolutely thriving; my undecided echinacea which has finally looks like it will keep growing and another happy little vegemite, my glowing aloe vera. All good here.. lets move on.
Now we come to the sad end of my little oasis. A withered, moldy end... I had managed to turn the tomatoes around with the miracle spray Daphne recommended but sadly we had a couple of miserable flood enducing rainy days (or weeks might I add) that helped the mold come back with avengence. I have been pruning all the withered and moldy branches until now theres not much left. The prince has vanished leaving me with the toads of the tomato world. But I do have tomatoes.
For the moment. All the up-coming buds have withered to dried out skeletons of what they were supposed to be so I think we are coming to the end of my first brave little tomato plants. But they are sending me off with an abudant harvest on their way out. I picked 46 tomatoes this morning!
And here is my favourite of the lot of them.
And why was I snapping away at some odd inanimate little balls while there was a gorgeous, colourful (and blissfully noisy =)) parrot playing topsy-turvey peekaboo? Well I just had to take a snap of her too.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Saturday, October 10, 2009
It is very naughty of me, I should have informed, and thanked, you all sooner for the wonderful advice which has saved my garden!
I am happy to report I am aphid free! Thanks Alexa =) The spider mites meanwhile, have not faced extinction but their numbers have dwindled enough that I can cope. And Daphne, that is some magic potion you gave me the recipe to! There are still bits of mold here and there but nowhere and I mean NOWHERE near what it was before! My tomatoes actually look healthy again! You can't believe how excited I was when things started turning around, I never imagined your compost spray could have worked such miracles. Thank you so very much.
In other news, my zucchini has opened its first flower! What a proud mama I am. Of course there's just the lone male flower at this point but my is he handsome.
And though I didn't take any pictures, both my bean plants have, well, beans! They're getting quite big now, the beans that is... the plants are so small I am in awe that they have fruited at all! so I'll be looking forward to tasting them soon. Funnily enough the seedling I haven't re-potted that is still sitting on my kitchen window is the healthier of the two... it may have to do with the other plant being hidden behind the jungle that are my tomatoes.
See, don't they look healthy?!
While we're on the subject, my beloved kitchen bean plant who I've dubbed Mr. Bean (yes, I do occasionally talk to my plants. Don't pretend you don't coz I KNOW you do too!) was severly injured in a horrendous collision with an opening window. It left us all traumatized.. possibily My Husband the worst so, having to deal with a hysterical wife sobbing and demanding how he could possibly have not seen poor Mr. Bean! Oh the horror! His fragile little stem snapped in half... *shakes her head* The stem, while snapped, had not come apart so there he is to this day propped up against the window pane in the hope that he will survive. So far so good, it seems as if everything vital is still connected but if he is moved at all, Mr. Bean keels over, beans and all, drooping sadly over his stem.
Fortunately, his is the only sad story I have to report, all else is well.
The strawberries in particular have recovered nicely after their aphid infestation. They look much healthier and I am much happier. I have also continued with my spring planting, sowing seeds for carrots, beetroot, spinach, eggplant and capsicum around the place. Surprisingly there are still odd bits of leaves mottled suspiciouly red. A reminder of the dust storm.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Those faeries and their magic dust!
I usually have a beautiful view to the heart of the Sydney CBD, centrepoint tower and Aussie Football Stadium. Not this morning.
That was my view at 6am. The pictures look deceptively calm but the wind is still tearing it up. I was so sure I would find my plants in shreds. Rattling does not begin to describe the constant beating the windows are receiving but blessedly my plants are safe.
I have never seen anything like this dust storm, made all the more freaky because its red! There are better pictures than mine, here. Visibility has improved over the last few hours and the colour has lifted, leaving a white fog like dust blowing over the city. What an eerie morning.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I honestly don't know where to begin. Suffice it to say, I'm a little overwhelmed by my tiny garden.
The tomatoes have mold, my strawberries have aphids (probably not only my strawberries) and my mint has red spider mites. Ugh. Obviously not overnight problems but I guess this is where my ineptitude comes into it. Ok that might be unkind, let's call it my "inexperience".
The aphids were freeloaders from a chilli plant I bought and the mites from the spinach. Probably not that huge a problem unless you're adverse to killing things and don't have natural predators on a balcony up high. The chilli and the spinach are both long gone but their "friends" remain. I've tried sprinkling with garlic and chilli (silly me, I think its a delicacy), the mint is growing amongst the chives (obviously not a deterant) and I've sprayed with soapy/oily water. The mites are semi under control, spraying jets of water seems to have slowed down their production; the aphids on the other hand, have to go, talk about population explosion.
I'm not offering solutions mind you. lol. I'm undecided if I should buy spray or continue to try to do it naturally. I should have been more ruthless at the start. Whilst other gardeners seem to find pleasure squishing bugs, I stupidly have a problem with killing anything.
And my tomatoes. Sigh. The snow peas got mold (I assume this is where it all began) and I pulled them. Probably too late. The tomatoes have showed signs for a few weeks and rightly or not, I have no idea, I've been pruning branches that show any mold. I thought maybe I could keep it at bay. The tomatoes have been the biggest joy of my gardening adventure so you can understand how much I dreaded the thought of losing them.
Again, I'm not presenting any solutions. There are so many green tomatoes on the branches and I don't want to let my plants go but I did have the thought that maybe I'm putting the other plants on the balcony at risk.. maybe its already too late? Maybe even if I pull these tomatoes the mold will still be lurking? This is where the experience would kick in, if I had any =P Regardless, I thought maybe its time to start some seedlings in case. I opened the bag of compost my dad gave me and...
Yeah... Possibly some of these are tomatoes? lol.
Not sure if its good, bad or irrelevant! but I did plant out my seedlings the other day, add some compost and scatter some seeds (mainly chamomile and herbs). I couldn't remember exactly where I'd sown what and suddenly so many new shoots have appeared I was a bit confused. I couldn't remember sowing so many chamomile seeds but they're so tiny that I could very well have lost track. Now I'm starting to wonder if it was all in the compost? The seedlings are so small they all look alike (which could mean they are all chamomile after all!) but there is one in my zucchini pot that is definately a volunteer. That is not chamomile.
Also I shouldn't have done it but I chucked the scraps/dirt off the balcony tidy up into my umbrella tree pot... I really hope this is basil since the seeds I _planted_ haven't sprouted ;)
There we have it, bugs, mold and seedlings galore... and I still don't know where to start.
Saturday, September 5, 2009
The requirement of the award is that you reveal 7 things about yourself so I thought if I do this, I'm going to do it properly and reveal 7 things that are special to me. Passions that make me who I am.
1. Birds. I just love birds =) The most wonderful gift I have ever and shall ever receive was for my 4th birthday, a beautiful blue budgie I named Bifi. He showed me the hidden world of birds, one that is open to anyone who commits their time and love to these most wonderful of creatures. Anyone that knows birds can tell you of their larger than life personalities, their loyalty, their affection, their curiosity and intelligence. I am so grateful that I was given the opportunity to open my heart and share my life with Bifi and my other birds since. They are my greatest love.
2. That would have to be... Dessert ;)
I have the biggest sweet tooth, embarrasingly so and what started off with a love of _eating_ sweets manifested into a love of _baking_ sweets. I'm the person you invite to a BBQ knowing that dessert is covered. I love creating all types of desserts, so much so that it's rare for me to make something twice. If I do, then you know its gotta be good! The last few years have seen me become absolutely passionate about baking.. its my joy. And one that I love sharing.
3. Dragons and Fantasy books.
I do have a faerie in my garden but dragons are my real passion. Maybe part of it is that they remind me of birds.. these winged, wise and ancient beasts. They represent to me knowledge and wisdom; strength and power, not for ruling over others but for standing up for whats right and knowing in yourself. Oh and to be able to fly, its like swimming in the sky.. can you imagine anything so free. And Fantasy books. Ok, this is on the back of dragons- how else would I have gotten to know so many? I am a voracious reader, I always have been, and there is nothing like a good fantasy book. I have so many beautiful memories that have been inspired by fantasy books, they have had a phenomenal influence on my life and I can't imagine who I would be if I didn't read.
4. I love to draw. Its not something I get much time to do, other things seem to take priority nowadays but when I pull the old sketch book out, its like time stands still. Who needs meditation when you can put pencil to paper. When I draw I get into a zone, and its like I'm in another world entirely. One filled with dragons most usually ;) A most blissful place to be.
5. An interest of mine is True Crime. It's something that surprises most people, I guess I don't fit the stereotype, whatever that may be. I even considered going into forensics but thinking about it, its an interest I wouldn't want to consume my life. I love the forensic biology and anthropology aspects the best. I know its a topic that freaks some people out but the way I look at is the true is the truth, no point sticking your head in the sand if thats whats out there in the world. Everything can be learned from. Its an interest that has contributed to my knowledge on safety and it has also made me a more compassionate person. I see it from the perspective that the victims have a right to tell their story, whether through words or bones. Let them have the last word.
6. I consider myself a relatively spiritual person and one aspect of me this leads to is the topic of mediums. I gobble up everthing I can on mediums and the supernatural. Please don't get me wrong, I'm not fanatic and I don't go around trying to convert people, I just consider myself open to certain possibilities that are, well for want of better words, unexplained. I don't automatically believe people's claims either but I do think there is more to this life than we know.
7. This passion is a little bit different but still integral to who I am. The whole reason I got to thinking about growing my own food, eating organic produce and looking after what my family and I eat is due to the Weston A. Price foundation. I read a wonderful, eye-opening and inspirational book by Sally Fallon called "Nourishing Traditions". She details what foods "nourish" your body and why, traditional foods that were better known to our grandparents and explains how corruptive the modern diet really is. Its not a diet book, far from it, and for some its a radical approach which opposes much of what we've been told is good for us. Sally explains it much better than I ever could. When I read it, everything just clicked. Its like what I've always known, and much I didnt. Finally there were explanations that made sense. If there was ever a life-changing book, this is it for me.
And there you have it, hope I haven't bored you too much. 7 things that make me, well, me! Gardening is a new hobby for me, one that I'm very happy to add now to my list that make up my passions. Hope I've given you a little insight into who it is that writes this blog.
Now for passing the award on. There are just so many blogs I love to read its hard to choose just 7. I don't know if the following people will be interested but they are those who inspire me most, their blogs having some aspect that I relate to.
Daphne's Dandelions has a most wonderful gardening blog. Her tomatoes are my envy and my inspiration, as are her monday harvest posts in which other can also share their weekly harvests. Someday I'll work my way up to a harvest worth posting there too ;)
Annie's Kitchen Garden, now there is inspiration at its finest. Not only is Annie just adorable but her Granny has the most productive garden I have ever seen. And the canning and pickling! Her blog is my dream. I can't imagine how much work she puts in.
Garden amateur has a lovely backyard garden in Sydney. His posts are always informative and its so nice to see what's going on in his garden because a. its always beautiful and b. he's a local =)
Totally inept balcony gardener is also a balcony gardener, and not very inept at all might I add. She grows veggies, fruits and flowers and is constantly inspiring me on what can be done.
Grannysgarden is the most homely blog and Granny is just so welcoming. I love her garden, her love of her home and life. She makes it a joy to visit.
The London Vegetable Gardener looks like his balcony space is even smaller than mine and you should see what he grows. His experiments into what can be grown in such a small space really could and should revolutionise what balcony gardens could be. Imagine if everyone grew just a little something.
Garden Geek is a blog I have just recently discovered. His small balcony garden in Lahore is roughly the size of my own and one that he has filled with the most beautiful flowers! Truly an inspiration.
The Meme award guidelines:
1. Link back to the person who gave you the award
2. Reveal the 7 things about yourself
3. Tag 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and link to them
4. Let each blogger know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.
5. Let the tagger know when your post is up.
This is one of my zucchinis (I've planted two) which is about 3 weeks old now with.. buds already?
My plantings from a week ago are doing well. The tomato plant in particular is looking much happier. Its even sporting flowers now! I think it was just crying to be put outside.
The broccoli and cauliflowers are slowly being pulled as they are harvested.. but in keeping with progression (making way for the zuke) I have finally pulled the broccolini! The stems are in different stages of drying out so before I attempt the get any seeds I thought they might need more time to dry. I don't know how accurate this technique is, any experienced gardener would probably laugh, but I thought I'd hang up the stems like you would drying a bouquet of flowers. I'll keep you posted if I get anything out of all this fuss =P
So with weather already annoucing spring in full swing I'm slowly catching up. My cactus prepared a little better than I, its wearing its spring crown already.
Friday, August 28, 2009
The snow peas on the top tier are now gone, as is all the lettuce (I can actually see dirt!). Half my beetroot and carrots were still miniscule so I transplanted the lot. I can imagine how big of a no-no that is, but I'm keeping an eye on them to see if I can get a little bit more growth.
In their place I've planted that leggy tomato seedling I had growing inside. I wasn't planning on sacrificing space for another tomato plant outside but it was so desparate looking I felt sorry for it. I've also planted one of my bean seedlings. He's shot up so fast, I think he will be happy outside.
A capsicum seedling.
One of the shadier containers on the right now has pak choi and silverbeet. I'm a little unsure about how things are going to grow in the 3 containers with shade but I'm willing to give it a try.
I'm now just waiting on harvesting the rest of the broccoli and cauliflower so I can take over their containers. The broccoli is still doing reasonably but I haven't had much luck with the cauliflower. The heads are becoming loose before they get to a reasonable size. I'm guessing it might have to do with the warmer weather we've been having. It's not very successful but I'll harvest what I can.
I'm also waiting on the broccolini. Maybe it wasn't so smart to try experimenting with seed collecting... however, my seedlings don't need to be planted as yet so I guess I can afford the space for the moment. They look terrible.. so mangy! but the pods are swelling. I'm including the photo only because I commented I would. Its really not inspirational. Half the stems have fallen over but still seem to be doing ok. The flowers dropped off a while ago. This is what they look like.
Still with me? =P
So hopefully I can plant out the rest of my seedlings in the next few weeks. I'm also planning on interplanting herbs and flowers in the containers instead of having them separate. Lettuce too, though I'll keep it to a reasonable amount this time ;) Keep the warm weather coming!
I'll close on the "bountiful" harvest collected during all this gardening. If you squint, and mistake the size of my cherry for a roma tomato, then it could pass for a decent harvest... almost ;)
Thursday, August 20, 2009
The stalks started growing pods! It dawned on me to check if anything was inside... Ah ha! I have a very real chance that these are broccolini seeds. Shape. Check. Size. Check. Consistency. Check. Colour. Not so much, but I'm hoping that will change once they dry.
I've progressed. Now I have to work out how to dry them. Do I leave the pods on the plant? Do I dry the pods? Do I dry the individual seeds? I have no idea so I'm going to experiement with all of the above. I still have seeds for planting should I fail. Any advice or experience would be most definately welcome =)
I did have more feathered visitors today. I feed lorikeets at my kitchen window and this morning a couple were enjoying a relaxed visit amongst the greenery on my balcony. I opened the door to say hello and one flew onto my head, not a usual occurence but I didn't mind. He then invited himself inside on the tv and flew onto my arm when I presented it. Needless to say, he was rewarded for his persistance ;)
They say things come in lots of three, so my story wouldn't be complete without another visitor for this morning. Sigh. I am a newbie gardener, that I have made clear and I am not used to dealing with certain.. visitors. We scared each other at our unexpected introduction and were not pleased by the meeting. Might I present.. the Thing.
Yes its just a caterpillar. But he was THIS big! Ok, he wasn't _that_ big but he was at least 5 cm which is pretty big if you put it into perspective of how small a garden I have. He was uninvited and I don't know how I missed him for that long. Some weeks ago I was finding this guy's brothers and sisters, mainly amongst my tomatoes. They were absolutely tiny and as all things small, quite cute. My kindness did not extent far though, they could not win me over with their cuteness completely and I got rid of every one that I found. I guess I missed one. Please don't say it. I may have missed more.
What's so funny?
Friday, August 14, 2009
I did drag my tired self out to the garden today. I've pruned, groomed and watered and the balcony is look quite spiff. I even hacked at the overgrown lettuce- in slow preparation for pulling them out in the near future. May as well encourage some more baby leaves before they go.
Told you I had a lot of rocket!
Some of the lettuce are beginning to go to seed. Below is the first to seed if you can think back to an earlier post. Its flowering now and quite pretty.
I spent some time pollinating my tomatoes this morning for which I use my hubby's electric shaver. He's slowly come to terms with its dual use and now knows where to find it if its not where its supposed to be (oops! my bad). I think he gets a kick out of it now and tells everyone I've been 'sexorising' the plants (his word, not mine). I'm not even sure if the tomatoes need the help but its been working so far so I figure why stop a good thing.
Here's some baby pearly pinks from this morning. You will notice I have lost a couple of buds (pollinated ones too :/). This has happened a couple of times, I think it may be a lack of consistent watering (I try but during the week it can be difficult) and turning the tiered pot they get disturbed. I'm aware of it now so I try and take extra care.
And here is one of my stars- my first and biggest of the tomatoes. They have been getting lighter and its hard to tell from the photo but the colour now is almost white. I'm hoping they'll turn red real soon ;) I can't get enough of looking at these beauties.
Speaking of beauties, my cactus is flowering. It opens flowers from random points and has been doing so for weeks. I absolutely love the colour.
Remember my concern for my broccoli and cauliflower to hurry up? Well they listened. All my broccoli now have heads (Yay!) and the side shoots on the harvested plant are beginning to grow.
I don't often venture to the back of my tiered pot (due to the risk of disturbing my tomatoes) but I did turn it a little today. I probably squealled a little too loudly (God only knows what the neighbours opposite me think sometimes) when I discovered my first 'visible' cauliflower! I know we went through this last week... but this one is actually big enough so I don't have to dig through leaves to find it. Who knew the (slightly more neglected) plant at the back was doing so well. So this week my tally is four out of six plants with cauliflower heads (yes, even the miniscule ones count ;)).
Two of my cauliflowers are also sporting appendages. Is this baby cauliflower? I don't see what else is could be. I certainly never planted anything near it and its growing from either the bottom of the stem or right next to the roots. It looks like cauliflower.
My beetroot has been growing a lot more leaves recently and for some reason they're all dark. The previous leaves have all been varying shades of green. I hope this recent spate of leaves means the roots are growing well. Or growing at all!
Friday, August 7, 2009
I decided to compromise and have started some seeds indoors.
I've planned out what I want to grow and have sown what I'll need. Last time, my first go at such things, I overcompensated thinking that nothing would germinate. This time with more know how and time up my sleeves I haven't planted any extra. If nothing germinates I've got plenty of time to sow more.
Speaking of seeds, I thought I'd try my hand at those flowering broccolini plants! A lot of petals have fallen leaving bare stalk with... seeds? I had a brief read about what to do and taking into account these seeds looking quite dry already I proceeded.
It wasn't as hard as I thought and quite fun. It reminds me of gathering grasses with seeds for my birds over the years and always puts me in mind of hunter/gathers (I'd definately belong to the latter ;)) I thought I even had a good result with the broccolini as you can see below... until I compared them with the seeds I had bought (top right on the right photo). They're organic seeds so I know they haven't been coloured by any chemicals and their shape is very regular. Am I collecting the right thing? I would assume so... Maybe I have to leave them on the stalks longer before collecting any more?
Really enjoying the warmer weather are my tomato seedlings. I started these about a week after my outdoor tomato plants and while they... lived... they never flourished. They did better once I put them outside (about a month and a half ago) and in the last two weeks have really grown. They about doubled in size! I have 2 pots of 2 and 1 pot of 3. The 3 are tommy toe and the other 2 pots got mixed up a long time ago, although I reckon I can tell by their colouring.
I started them in my enthusiasm and not actually imagining that the ones I planted outdoors would thrive in winter. Boy was I wrong. I've asked a few people if they'd like to adopt any and everyones said yes but not at the moment. Since they've grown I really think they'd appreciate being repotted or put into a garden so I'll see what I can do about giving them away shortly. Not only have they grown, but have started buds =)
I also have a tomato seedling inside, he was my first and strongest to germinate indoors. Just to prove how grossly I misjudged, I thought this might be the one if any to flower over the winter. He's a lot bigger than the other seedlings and has also grown well in the last couple of weeks. No buds though. At this point I'm unsure what to do with him. I had planned on keeping him inside but since my outdoor tomatoes are doing so well, his life's purpose may be better served with someone else.
Sunday, August 2, 2009
Amidst all the cut back rocket I did discover one of my mesclun mix sprouting buds. Might try for a lesson in seed collecting.
Also back amongst the follage are my beetroot and whats that poking up? Finally deciding to make an appearance, my first beetroot... root... weee! As you can see there is a little bit of a bulb on the one next to it but the rest have nothing. Even with *ahem* little bit of clearing I can't see anything. I'll have to wait for the others to catch up a bit.. no point harvesting one baby beet is there?
So here is today's harvest. You're gonna have to turn your head a little, sorry. I've uploaded it a couple of times from its landscape! location. No idea how to rotate here yet =(
I'm thrilled about harvesting my first broccoli, I can't believe that came out of my garden!
The other thing of note is today's garden visitor. A bee! He was very handsome buzzing around my tomato flowers, legs laden with pollen. By the time I focused the camera on him he decided he had enough and left. I don't know why I should feel so excited to see a bee in my garden, I've seen wasps, but that's not quite the same. I think the bee represents the ultimate sign of approval and proof of life. My little garden is now offically... offical!