THE BEGINNING OF THE END

After much thought, I decided to harvest/pull out about 1/3 of my Balcony Garden last Saturday.   The sight of the damaged (or dead) leaves was a wee bit depressing.

I decided the Dead, Damaged or Dying are not worth the nightly chore of carting heavy water cans of water from the kitchen tap each evening at dusk (when one has permanent bad lower back and hip pain).

I’ll leave the chore of washing the 2nd lot of dust off the balcony tiles a bit longer.   Seems like the rain is carrying much dust permanently, (and perhaps taxic chemicals?) in recent days.   I certainly have to wash the cut Herbs multiple times before using.

This year’s crop of Blueberries has amounted to about 2 dozen small, fairly tasteless, berries over a two month period, instead of last years small delicious handful every day (for 3 weeks or so).   All those hundreds of blueberry flowers a few months ago amounted to nothing (above).

The leaves, after I cut off the worst damaged, still look pretty burnt and brown (below) and despite pouring water over the leaves, most leaves still have dust on them (below)

The bush is looking as sad as I feel.

On Saturday I didn’t get around to taking out the 3 Heirloom tomatoes which have deteriorated so much. While they withstood the 44C (112F) day some week ago, the Dust Storm (and subsequent heavy rain leaving a second covering of red dust) has really had an adverse effect (as I mentioned in a previous post).

Wouldn’t you know it – on Sunday, some of the 22 tiny green Truss Tomatoes, which have been green for weeks,  started to change colour and ripen.   This is the second time I’ve thought about taking the plants out, left them one more day, and the fruit changed colour.

Methinks nature is doing this to tease me.

So I’ll leave that one in a bit longer, despite the fact it looks more like an ‘anorexic‘ bush with a few dead or dying branches and leaves, instead of the bright lush green bush at the start of Spring (below).

THE TOMATOES LIGHT UP WITH A RICH GOLD HUE IN THE GOLDEN HOURS OF THE DAY AROUND DUSK.

Tomato #3 – ‘Genuwine’- has 2-3 new flowers on it and a few new leaves.   Rather pale and insipid compared to the rich greens denoting the start of Spring.   The rest of that bush is almost dead.

Within 24 hours, all the herbs I cut down to 1-2″ (about 4 cm) stubble burst into tiny new shoots.

I regularly prune or give my herbs a ‘haircut’, so cutting off 90-99% of the foliage and branches is actually no big deal.

I cut the dead flowers and spindly branches off the grey-leafed Curry Plant and it’s looking much better (below).  All the branch tips have new shoots.

The only herb not sprouting is the dead Sage seedling which I only bought about 3-4 weeks ago.   It was thickly coated in red dust and despite lots of watering by me in an attempt to wash the dust off, failed to recover.    I’ll leave the dead stubble in the long trough as that plastic trough has a Rocket plant either end which has already started sending out new leaves.

In fact, the Rocket seedlings which I harvested will be ready for another harvest in about 5-7 days at the rate they’re growing (below).

The Rocket leaves 24 hours after being cut down to stubble are already starting to sprout .

The Perennial Basil, of which I cut about 99% off, is starting to sprout too.

Basically, many of the Herb leaves suffocated.   

My Rosemary doesn’t look as good as usual either, but I’ll leave that in the pot in the hope Autumn and Winter rains and some Osmocote slow-release fertilizer pellets revive it.   It usually grows well in the Australian hot summer, but the severe dust storm was a whole new ‘ball-game’ for it to contend with.

My Balcony Garden gets a lot of dust from the construction site on the other side of the road in the last few months, but this Dust Storm was a major calamitous event for it.   I often find sawdust covering the plants and balcony floor, so I’ll be well & truly glad when the apartment building is finished – if that EVER happens LOL 😀

I am just fed up with the noise of nail guns, electric saws, loud radio music and sometimes………loud swearing drifting across to my apartment and waking me up in the morning.   I have been known to swear occasionally, but all $%#@ day like the construction workers?   I guess the workers don’t realize how much the sound carries from the cliff face down to the apartment block below.

NOT LARGE, BUT THIS YEAR’S BEETROOT ARE GROWING IN THE SMALL SPACE.

I pulled all the Beetroot out and cooked the golfball-sized beets and they were delicious – more earthy in flavour (compared to the supermarket variety).

Remember my gorgeous crop of leaves which I’ve been cutting raw for salads as well as cooked as a dinner vegetable or omelette ingredient?

Beetroot leaves are packed with high amounts of vitamins and nutrients, including iron, protein, calcium, magnesium, zinc and fibre. They also are extremely low in calories, fat and cholesterol.   No wonder they are ranked among the top 10 healthiest foods on some websites.   I usually cut the leaves when they’re relatively small.   This year is the first time I have left them for long enough to harvest beets to cook.

Kale (of which I have none at the moment) is another dense nutrient-packed green leafy vegetable.   I usually have at least one plant growing all year round.

I’ll wait until the end of the hot summer to plant another seedling though.

I took out the French Bean plant as well.   It has never really cropped much since the leaf damage.  I think I can see black dots or insects on the underside of the leaves too.

Perhaps I now have a pest on them.

 

 

I’ve snipped off the dead and dying leaves from the 2 Flat-leaf Parsley plants in the bright blue trough and left it on the ground and now that it’s away from that hot fence railing, they seem to be OK.   I wondered if it was the burning hot railing that damaged it, not the storms and severe 44C day a few weeks ago.

It wasn’t until I was washing the dust off the fence rail that I realized the metal was as hot as a stove hotplate on high.

Don’t know how the Sparrows (and Wrens) can tolerate standing on the metal on superhot days.

Then the pests moved in with their voracious appetites the other week and took hold of some of the other herbs (Sorrel) below.

I found mint leaves stuck together with the faint outline of caterpillars under a web of cocoon threads.

The Sorrel leaves had round bite marks but I can find no caterpillars, so that might be Harlequin Bug infestation like I had last year.

So…….’off with its head’ as the saying goes.  The sorrel (and 2 Mint plants) pruned down to 1-2″ stubble.   I usually cut the Sorrel down to stubble once every month or so anyway.  

This ensures a lovely new crop of fresh young leaves within a week (example below).

So, in general, don’t be afraid to prune your herbs back hard if the leaves start to get a little bitter, or the plant grows unruly on your limited balcony or courtyard space.

Most will regenerate and offer up new young leaves for your kitchen.

Regretfully, this is the beginning of the end of this Summer’s crops.   Premature I may be in pulling some out, but I don’t see any sense in wasting my precious energy watering crops that are so sickly.

Never mind, there’s always next year  🙂

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

In the meantime, I’m nurturing the 3 Herb seedlings my friends brought me a couple of weeks ago.   It’s far too hot on my balcony for the Coriander anyway.  So they stay indoors for the time being.

2019/2020 Summer has left a devastating impact on the Australian environment.   Now, will the politicians stand up, take notice and do something about Climate Change.

THAT IS THE QUESTION ON EVERYONE’S TONGUE THESE DAYS!

Australian Government, stand up, and act (otherwise you’ll be out the door in the next election).

This will be the last post on my Balcony Garden for a while unless I have something exciting to share.

Every time I say that, something pops up to photograph, so it’s a good sentence to use when I want Opportunity to Knock on My Door.