Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I woke to...

Wind. And... a world similar to my own, but coloured red.

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

The Good and The Bad

My gardening ineptitude didn't seem to bother my plants which have grown, flourished even, flowered and fruited. Until now. I've had my share of the good... now I'm into the bad.

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

Meme Award

Wendy over at Greenish Thumb has been kind enough to pass a Meme Award on to me =) She is an inspirational gardener who shares her passion for food and gardening through her wonderful blog so thank you Wendy, for your friendship and warmth, and for the award.

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.

Spring Planting - part 2

RL commitments have been prioritising my time of late but I did get a chance to catch up somewhat on the balcony yesterday. I've planted out some more seedlings, namely zucchini, spinach, basil, thyme and camomile. The zucchinis are a nice size but otherwise all the seedlings were quite small. I'm hoping they'll take.

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.