A BALCONY GARDEN UPDATE

I AM NOT GOING TO BUY ANY MORE PLANTS.

I AM NOT GOING TO BUY ANY MORE PLANTS.

The above sentence is like a mantra which I say over and over again to myself, but ‘plant’ me, in the local Hardware/Plant Nursery warehouse (Bunnings) and its like I’m a small child in a lolly shop dashing back and forth trying to decide which lollies to buy with my ‘pocket money’.

I can easily spend an hour walking around the seedling shelves and only my constant sciatic pain prevents me from walking around all afternoon.

My Garden started to take over my lounge in my previous apartment located in the north-east suburbs, but was much easier to water.

Watering my balcony potted garden may be a tedious chore most of the year, but I can’t stop buying more plants, (especially during Summer when the caterpillars eat half of them and I need replacement plants to fill the gaps fairly regularly).

I think I have an addiction……but, at least its healthier than smoking or alcohol 😀

Maybe my new mantra should be……I’M NOT GOING TO THE PLANT NURSERY WAREHOUSE (at all).

Wooden floors in my previous apartment meant if was so easy to grow indoors too. No pale carpet to cart water over as in my current apartment.

Part of the reason I buy leafy greens to grow in my small garden is that buying the usual big bunch at the market is way too much for a single person like myself and sometimes the last half of a bunch gets thrown out as it deteriorates, (or yellows).  I don’t have room for a compost bin on my balcony and hate wasting fresh food.  Much easier and more economical to grow it and only cut the outer leaves as I need them each night.

THIS IMAGE WAS MADE OF THE SPINACH I GREW IN MY PREVIOUS APARTMENT.

Same with Parsley, Mint, Summer lettuces or Rocket.  Note: the aim in Summer is to have enough ‘green stuff’ growing on my balcony to pick for my salad bowl each night (as in the first crop at my previous apartment on the right).

The only time it is worth buying large bunches is when I make Spinach Soup in Winter (note to self: I must take a photo of my Spinach Soup for future blogging).

Yesterday’s plant seedling purchases.

Yesterday I caught a taxi to the local large Shopping Centre for a number of urgent errands and then decided to walk back the couple of hundred metres to the plant nursery to buy some more Spinach seedlings.

Seriously.

I was ONLY going to buy Spinach (but ended up with 2 bags of shopping and a large carry bag of seedlings & small bag of Blood & Bone fertiliser, so had to call a taxi to get home 🙂 ).

My 4 baby spinach plants are still growing well and will continue to flourish throughout the winter.  But cutting off a few of their tiny outer leaves, together with a Tuscan Kale leaf finely chopped and a handful of Parsley, is really only enough to add to a Herb Omelette.

Not enough to cook as a vegetable serving for dinner.

So………what did I buy in addition to Spinach.

I ended up buying another Kale – Kale Tuscano Nero (Brassica oleracea sp.) – slightly different variety to my previous Kale variety.  Then a Pak Choi – Purple (Brassica rapa) which I’d never bought or eaten before, a punnet of ordinary Spinach (Spinach oleracea) seedlings for my large vegetable trough, another punnet of 8 sweet-scented Alyssum ‘Sugar Crystals’ (Lubularia maritima) seedlings AND………a pot of colour I couldn’t resist for gloomy winter days……..NEMESIA (Nemesia fruiticans).

‘Punnets’ are a common and economical way to buy 6-8 tiny seedlings in Australian Plant Nurseries.

…..and for those not familiar with the term, here’s what Wikipedia had to say.

  • A punnet is a small box for the gathering and sale of fruit and vegetables, typically small berries. The word is largely confined to Commonwealth countries and is of uncertain origin, but is thought to be a diminutive of “pun”, a British dialect word for pound, from the days in which such containers were used as a unit of measurement.
  • Punnets were originally a round woodchip basket but typically are now rectangular and made of plastic; increasingly moulded pulp and corrugated cardboard are being used as they are perceived to be more sustainable materials. Decorative punnets are often made of felt and seen in flower and craft arrangements.

I had a spare large pot of soil remaining from where I’d pulled out the remnants of some Broccolini that the Cabbage Moth Caterpillars had demolished.

I’ve never heard of Nemesia, but hopefully it will continue to flower in my balcony’s micro climate and make for some variety in the winter colour, despite the plant label saying Spring to Summer flowering.

After all, if my other Spring flowering plants bloom in all Seasons on my west-facing balcony, it’s not in the realm of impossibility that Nemesia might 🙂

I usually like cool flower colours like Blue, Blue, Blue (did I say blue?), and occasionally mauve, purple, or white, but I did buy yellow Marigolds as a pest deterrent (which didn’t work in recent months, I might add).  I’m not a big fan of hot colours in my limited space.

I love white Alyssum too.

There are other colours in the plant nursery besides white.  The variety I bought yesterday has a larger sized flower than the variety I planted last Spring/Summer.  The flowers of my old Alyssum plants got eaten, but now the weather has a distinct winter chill, all my old Alyssum plants are flowering again and starting to cascade over the edges of their pots.  The Harlequin Bugs have definitely ‘gone north’ for their winter holiday as there is not a half-eaten flower or bare leaf in sight!

But, I still wanted some more (Alyssum).

The larger flowering variety of Alyssum I bought yesterday.

The old plants now look glorious in my two pots, but I think you can never have too much sweet-scented Alyssum when you have a balcony garden.

This is just one pot of Alyssum that is now about 20 times its original size.

My Rosemary is continuing to flower and my pink daisy has lots of tiny buds again (after being heavily pruned to remove the brown sun-burnt leaves a month or two ago).

All in all, a very satisfactory shopping trip indeed.

NOW……I AM NOT GOING TO BUY ANY MORE PLANTS….THERE’S, LITERALLY, NO MORE VACANT SPACE IN ANY OF THE LARGE POTS.

Maybe they should have adult evening classes for Plant-Buying Addicts (just as they have AA – Alcoholics Anonymous) 😀

Not that buying plants is a problem when you’ve got acreage in your back yard, but buying too many seedlings when you’ve only got a small west-facing balcony is sheer ‘gluttony’.

Now….IF…..I had….more room……I’d plant some Butternut Pumpkins (called Squash in the U.S. I think) and have long creeping vines trailing in and around the other pots.

I DO like my Sweet Butternut Pumpkin soup in Winter!

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13 thoughts on “A BALCONY GARDEN UPDATE

    1. I’ve discovered that this west-facing balcony puts the whole seasonal approach to gardening out of whack, David. Things I never thought I could grow have been easy with so much sun and this micro-climate within the four walls, or glass enclosed space.
      It’s the pest control that has been a problem for me as I don’t like sprays and pesticides, natural or not. The first summer wasn’t so bad, but this past one, when I experimented with a wider variety of vegetables has been overwhelmed with pests. I suspect that I’m too inexperienced to get the balance right and don’t have enough room to practice much in the way of companion planting. I have to keep the pots light enough to move around or turn regularly to face the sunlight as it comes over the building and sinks down towards the west.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Experience only comes with practise and it sounds as if you ain’t doing badly on that score. As for pest…. not sure anyone has any real solutions. Some one on one of my blogs told me that one of the best solutions is to boil a glove or two of garlic in water. then use the liquid as a spray on the veg (not tried it yet) 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I AM NOT GOING TO BUY ANY MORE PLANTS.

    I feel at home with people that have the same addiction. My addiction, however, is with seeds. I am not going to buy any more seeds (my mantra). Firstly, most get confiscated; secondly, what to do with all those strange and wonderful plants? My latest success is having been able to germinate Ravenala madagascariensis (Traveler’s Palm), so darling–a black seed covered in blue waxy stuff and endowed with a niffy tuft of hair for dramatic flair (also a member of RA or Rhyming Anonymous). See what I mean about addiction?

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    1. Actually I’m a bit worried about my Blueberry bush. It’s leaves are going yellow, so not sure if it’s overwatering or under watering. I tend not to water when rain is forecast, except for the smallest pots which dry out with the strong winds.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Our balcony faces north, and doesn’t get enough sun to grow most things. Last year I tried to grow lettuce, but after all the work and water, didn’t get much of a crop. I would love fresh tomatoes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When you say north, do you mean it doesn’t get much light, Candice. I lived in a south-facing apartment and got no direct sunlight 3 years ago, but plenty of light, so found I could grow many more things than I thought possible, including tomatoes. Not a big crop from the one small heirloom tomato I planted as an experiment.

      if you’ve got lots of light you should be able to grow most leafy vegetables and herbs. i had a massive crop from my 3 tomato plants last summer in this current west-facing balcony, but then, all of a sudden they wilted and virtually died. I think it was the pests more than my lack of care.

      My balcony is so hot in summer, it’s almost like a sauna and I suspect I need some sort of shade cloth for the hottest part of the afternoon.

      There’s only so much one can do while living in a rental property with restrictions on what you can put on your balcony. Actually this place is a joke in that you’re not allowed to put washing on a folding clotheshorse on your balcony, but I put mine right next to the open sliding door visible by anyone who walks down my road, so what’s the difference in 2 feet. Visible in my lounge and not allowed to be visible on my balcony 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Our condo has rules, but none that pertain to plants. We don’t have sunlight, except a bit early in the morning. I’ve had some success with shade loving flowers, but nothing that requires direct sunlight. I also have a few houseplants that don’t need much light.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Sounds like you have similar light as I had in my first balcony garden when I lived near the Botanic Gardens on the south side of the city for 15 years. I had about 3-4 hours sun in Summer and 1-2 hours in Winter (as the sun was lower in the sky). I bought herbs (and sometimes flowers) every Spring and they often died at the end of Summer. Because it was ground floor and the path from the street went past my lounge and bedroom to the back lane, the public could walk through and one year, all my plants were stolen off the waist high brick balcony fence. All mainly ceramic pots too. Since then I’ve just bought plastic pots.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It will be particularly interesting to see how long the Nemesia flowers last into the Winter, Eliza. It will be very rainy and wintery in the coming week so that will be a good test to see if the flowers drop off. The spinach is starting to grow already.

      Liked by 2 people

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