A RIPE TOMATO!

As you all know I’ve been bemoaning about the slow ripening of my first trial of Heirloom Tomatoes varieties 2019/2020.

Well, low and behold…………after the heavy rain all day on Wednesday of the past week……..I woke up on Thursday morning to an astonishing change in the largest green tomato on Tomato plant #3 – Genuwine (the cross between Costoluto Genovese and Brandy Wine tomatoes).

If I hadn’t seen it ripen so suddenly, I never would have believed it.   Its been a warmer shade of green than the others in the bunch for 2-3 weeks (or more).

Since I have no trouble with my Avian friends pecking at my tomatoes, I’ll leave it on the bush to fully ripen.

I usually pay the extra $$ for vine-ripened tomatoes in the shops as I prefer their deeper, richer flavour to most commercially grown Tomatoes, although, at this time of year, nearly all tomatoes we get in our markets and supermarkets are flavoursome in Australia.

There’s another slightly more golden-green small tomato on the lower right of the photo above.  Here’s hoping it turns red in the coming days.

My brother had bought me a couple of great books for growing food in a small space to add to my small gardening book collection, but it was actually my Organic Gardener magazine where I read that you should never grow tomatoes in the soil/location you used the previous season/year.   I didn’t know this.  Well, I’d already planted the seedlings and didn’t want to disturb them, so I just hoped for the best.

I might like to point out that the two green tubs, with Tomatoes #1 & #3 were the old tomato pots and the terracotta-coloured pot (which had baby spinach in it last year), have quite obvious differences in the Tomato and Sweet Basil plant growth.

I don’t know whether you can see the more robust growth in the Sweet Basil at the base of Tomato #2 if you have only a small laptop computer.   I hope Tomato #2 – Tomato ‘sauce-maker’ doesn’t grow any higher as I only bought a packet of bamboo stakes (not the taller wood picket-fence-like heavy stakes).

Living in a small studio-style apartment and having only the balcony outdoors, I don’t like to accumulate large items or anything that I can’t re-purpose.

By the way, the Rosemary (Rosemarinus officinalis) on the left-hand side of the tomatoes is nowhere near as lush and bright green as usual.   Its leaves have a definite dry, pale tinge to them.

My Mint bush on the right-hand side of the tomatoes is one of 3 pots of Mint I have and nearly died when I had a few days in the hospital last year but has sprung back with pruning off the yellowing leaves and the usual regular daily watering I give my container garden.

I noticed some leaves stuck together in my new Mint plant yesterday and snipped them off when I saw a caterpillar sandwiched in between.  Seems that was what had nibbled a few leaves recently.

I have no idea what kind of caterpillar it was as it was brown (not green like the Cabbage Moth Caterpillars that have such voracious appetites).

My baby Spinach seedlings I planted 10 days ago are doing well (below).

It really is a unique life I lead – I literally sit at my desk in the late morning while answering my emails (with half an eye on the watch for bird traffic) and then, sit in blissful silence and solitude watching the garden grow for a couple of hours.

It’s extraordinary.

It’s amazing.

……and I can highly recommend it to chronic pain/illness sufferers (like myself).

Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. … Research done in hospitals, offices, and schools has found that even a simple plant in a room can have a significant impact on stress and anxiety.

HERE, THE LILY CATCHES THE LATE AFTERNOON LIGHT.   THIS IMAGE WAS MADE SOME WEEKS AGO AND SINCE THEN, ONE FLOWER HAS DIED, BUT I STILL HAVE 7 LEFT.  THIS PEACE LILY WHICH I BOUGHT TO CLEAR THE TOXINS IN THE AIR, IS STILL GROWING AT THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY RATE I’VE EVER SEEN ANY INDOOR PLANT GROW.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK(end)

I used this quote a few weeks ago, but after I picked some herbs from my Balcony Garden for a breakfast omelette this morning, it seemed appropriate to repeat the quote……..

 I like to encourage people interested in gardening or planting to begin with a simple herb garden. Even if you live in a small apartment, you can have some herb pots.

Anna Getty

Herbs will grow on a windowsill as long as you have some light and remember to cater to their thirst requirements and have well-drained soil.

97% of herbs don’t like wet feet and do like at least 5 hours of sunlight (or even just good light).   But I have grown herbs in only about 2-3 hours of sunlight, then TLC and a small dose of good luck steps in.

There are some herbs that like dry conditions like some of the Mediterranean Herbs and there are some that grow in the semi-shade.

Trial & Error is a good Teacher (I know this as I have regular daily lessons, especially in the Error department)  😀

 

FIRST BIG HARVEST THIS SPRING

It was very windy and quite cold when I got up this morning but decided to step outdoors to check on the Balcony Garden and make my first really large harvest for the season.   I do cut herbs regularly, but it was about time I cut some more leafy vegetables (including the lettuces).

So out came the baby veggie ‘shoot’ clippers (about 2 1/2 – 3 inches long) which I use to cut my pea and bean shoots I sprout, and a big plastic bowl to gather in the harvest.

(Gosh, it sounds like I’m a real farmer LOL).   I have pretty vivid imagination 😀

I’d been meaning to cut the lettuces for over a week as they weren’t doing as well under the hot, gale-force winds that plagued Melbourne (and the whole eastern seaboard of Australia) for so many days in this last month.

I hope they taste OK.

In fact, my harvest has been pretty ‘ordinary’ compared to Spring last year.  Even the lettuces last Spring fared pretty well and they made such good photos that I couldn’t bear to harvest them (below).

SPING 2018

By the way, I can see the Purple Coral Pea over the road is in flower at the moment.  The images (below) are from when I lived on the north-east side of Melbourne, not here in the western suburbs where I live now.

Purple Coral Pea (Hardenbergia violacea syn. H. monophylla) is a species of flowering plant in the pea family Fabaceae, native to Australia from Queensland to Tasmania. It is known in Australia by the common names false sarsaparilla, purple coral pea, happy wanderer, native lilac and waraburra. Wikipedia

I might add, the flowers really are this bright purple at the height of flowering, especially in the blue hour – late afternoon.

Last Spring (2018), the Harlequin Bugs and Cabbage Moth Caterpillars ate nearly every leaf in the Garden except for the lettuces which I’d already harvested.

My trial of growing Capsicums was a failure in the sense that I got about 6-7 ripe red Capsicums at the end of a 13-week wait and only one was ripe at any one time.   I think the Possums might have jumped down off the apartment roof and broken 2 of the main branches also.

ROASTED RED CAPSICUM SALAD – one of my favourites in mid-summer

I need at least 6 large red Capsicums to make my favourite roasted Capsicum salad.

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Even the pest control hatch/net I bought last year didn’t keep the birds off the seedlings. One tiny Superb Fairy-wren crept under a loose corner and squeaked pitifully until I went outdoors and lifted the netted hatch up to release it.

So today, first up were the French beans and I gathered enough for one meal.   They were still relatively small compared to the supermarket ‘offerings’, but I could see many more 1 – 2″  sized babies and they will be ready to harvest in another 2-3 days at the rate they are growing.   The Plant Nursery label DID say they’d come ‘thick & fast’ as soon as they were large enough for the first harvest.

French Beans were a trial on this west-facing hot balcony this year.  Actually, I’m always trialling different vegetables these days, but French beans seedlings will be on the Plant Nursery shopping list for 2020.   If Melbourne is going to exposed to these severe gusty winds permanently, I’ll have to trial quite a few more vegetable varieties I think.

Then some English Curly Parsley and lots of Mint to make some Tabbouleh this afternoon.   I had bought a big bunch of Italian Flat-leaf parsley from the supermarket this week as I still haven’t got around to buying another potted plant for the Balcony Garden to replace the one that went to seed.  I was going to go earlier this week but other issues took up some time.

(I make my Tabbouleh with Quinoa, not Bulgar Wheat, by the way).

I’ve had Chick Peas soaking overnight to make a batch of Humus this afternoon.

I clipped a few Beetroot leaves to add to my salad bowl, which together with 3 different lettuces and lots of herbs splashed with home-made French oil & lemon dressing will do for lunch tomorrow.

I had a heaped tablespoon of finely chopped Sweet Basil from my garden with light olive oil on my Buckwheat Pasta a couple of days ago.

Divinely Delicious (is all I can say).

The Sweet Basil, planted at the base of my 3 Heirloom Tomato plants as Companion Plants, has grown a wee bit more than the last Balcony Garden update, but nothing like my usual Summer harvest.

My brother tells me “it’s the weather, its The Weather – so don’t get too disappointed with the slow growth rate of your crops”.

I think he may be right.

There weren’t enough ripe Truss Tomatoes (Heirloom Tomato #1) to harvest so had to rely on supermarket produce yet again.

The whole idea of my Balcony Garden is to be a new hobby (now I can’t do much in the way of Nature Walks), handy to cut a few herbs for dinner each night (as opposed to buying a whole bunch which means I waste half of it being just one person in this household) AND well………….. just for the fun of it 😀

I must admit Bird Watching does come into play as a reason for a Balcony Garden too  🙂