SILENT SUNDAY

(Methinks I’ve got to ‘get a Life’ and stop watching the Balcony Garden grow).

 

THE WIND

The breath of life is in the sunlight and the hand of life is in the wind.
Kahlil Gibran

I love watching the wind rustling the leaves in the treetops, but the last couple of weeks, the gusts have been downright ferocious (as I mentioned in a previous post) and left many of my new Spring seedlings completely bent over like little old ladies planting rice paddies with a permanent stoop.

After another 2 day absence from home this past week, most plants have been revived with a good watering which encourages them to stand up straight again the next morning.   My Tuscan Kale had to be tied up between 3 bamboo stakes as it was just too tired to stand up on its own after yesterday’s wild wind.

Some other tiny seedlings like the Asian lettuce varieties are beyond recovery and will need to be replaced next time I go to the local Bunnings Plant Nursery.

My 3 tomato varieties are looking very ‘ordinary‘ and nothing like the lush thick foliage I had on my Tomato ‘Patio’ in the Spring/Summer of 2017.   I know they’re a different variety, but somehow, I really thought they’d have more foliage.

Perhaps they’re meant to have light foliage?  I’ve never grown these varieties before.

TOMATO #1 (left) Tomato Truss Sweet & TOMATO #2 (right) Tomato Sauce Maker

The Sweet Basil planted to be ‘companions’ have barely grown at all! (as you can see in the base of the Tomato plants above.

What is wrong with those Basil plants I wonder?  Not enough sun?  Too much wind?

I found 3 tiny tomatoes last week with 3 more miniature gems on the ‘Sweet Truss’ Tomato yesterday.

Tomato Plant #2 – Tomato Sauce Maker – has plenty of flowers, but no fruit yet (below).

Tomato Plant #3 – Tomato Genuwine – has only a hint of flowers (below).

The Beetroot plants have picked up in the last 2 days and are growing very well indeed.   I could use the leaves in salads already, but since I’m growing them this year for Beets, I’ll allow the leaves to stay in case they’re needed to keep the plant growing.

The Japanese Maple in front of my balcony has flowers!

I’ve never seen Maple flowers before and certainly not in the last 3 years since I moved to this western suburb.

………and the Superb Fairy-wrens have been absent, except for the bright blue feathered male below.

Even he was reluctant to show his face yesterday, as though he is embarrassed about leaving his ‘lady-loves’ stuck at home nest-sitting and bored out of their avian minds.

 

 

BEETROOT (Beta vulgaris)

In all my images and posts on my Balcony Garden this Spring, I think I forgot to mention Beetroot.   I love the tiny leaves in salads and the larger leaves as a steamed vegetable.   These larger leaves are an acquired taste though.   They’re stronger in taste than spinach.

A bit like Sorrel, but perhaps not as bitter.   Perhaps Kale is a better comparison?

In general, the leaves attached to the Beets in the supermarket are pretty stale and I throw them in the bin, but fresh, green and not too large, like those I bought a couple of weeks ago, are delicious.

Organic Beetroot from the Collingwood Children’s Farm farmer’s market near inner Melbourne

This Spring, for the first time, rather impulsively, I bought a punnet of seedlings and planted them in my large veggie trough as an experiment.   I don’t really have the room or deep enough pots for root vegetables, although I’m always open to a challenge – Trial and Error is my gardening philosophy (and some might say……my second name).

My book Small Space Big Harvest mentions root vegetables though (ISBN 978-1-74033-338-2).   By the way, I just love this book my brother gave me for Christmas 2 years ago.

It’s packed full of great advice, creative ideas, but more importantly, very good photos.  Many of the images are close-ups and much better than most gardening books.

I like to see examples in gardening and cookery books.

 

You’ll never ever know (if you never have a go).

13th OCTOBER, 2019 – MY EXPERIMENTAL BEETROOT SEEDLINGS ARE FINALLY STARTING TO GROW

Beetroot, as we call them in Australia (the U.S. calls them Beets), are an excellent root crop (and apparently will store for months).  Growing up in my family meant beetroot was on the menu daily in the summer and we never stored them fresh in a root cellar or dark pantry, as we ate seasonally from my Mother’s large vegetable garden (with the summer excess bottled and/or made into sauces or chutneys).   I don’t remember seeing bottled beetroot in the enormous dark cupboard above our fridge.  Perhaps we only ate it in summer.

 

In more recent times, I’ve started roasting them.  I even tried juicing them in my Nutri Bullet.   (my juice extractor died about 15-20 years ago and I never replaced it as it was such a chore to wash all the attachments).   I’m seriously thinking about buying another juicer, but in the small galley kitchen I have in this studio apartment, not sure where I’d put it.

Packed with essential nutrients, beetroots are a great source of fiber, folate (vitaminB9), manganese, potassium, iron, and vitamin C. Beetroots and beetroot juice have been associated with numerous health benefits, including improved blood flow, lower blood pressure, and increased exercise performance.

Beetroot is best grown quickly and responds well to fertiliser.  Beetroots require well drained, friable soil in a well mulched, sunny spot according to the plant nursery label.   The label also says to harvest when the roots are no bigger than a tennis ball.

IF mine grow, and I had my doubts for the first 3 weeks or so, I’ll probably be harvesting the beets when they’re much smaller.

 

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Weather means more when you have a garden.  There’s nothing like listening to a shower and thinking how it is soaking in around your green beans.

Marcelene Cox

I HAVE BEEN WATCHING & WAITING, WATCHING & WAITING AND FINALLY, MY FRENCH BEANS ARE BEGINNING TO GROW – I’ve never grown beans before.

ZUCCHINI ‘BLACK JACK’ (Cucurbita spp.)

At the risk of boring some of you, I had to take some more photos of my Zucchini ‘babies’.

Trying to part the large leaves with one hand and hold the camera up close was quite a challenge yesterday.

MY LARGEST ZUCCHINI AT ABOUT 4″ long X 5.8″ thick.

I’ve changed the ‘picture style’ setting on my DSLR back to Standard, which is why the close-ups taken with my DSLR and Sigma 17-50mm f2.8 lens are rather pale (but more like their natural colour).

The images made with my Sony a6000 ‘mirrorless’ camera,, (while seated at my desk chair) at the end of this post, are made with the camera on Vivid picture style and are much brighter.

Of course the sun and light at the time of shooting also influences the overall image.

HARLEQUIN BUGS ON LAST YEAR’S CAPSICUM PLANT.

I now have SIX zucchini babies and this morning when I turned on my computer and sat down I noticed a couple of Harlequin bugs sitting on the flower/fruit (one close to the centre of the image below).  The zucchini on the right seems to have quite a curve in its growth pattern (below).  Perhaps it couldn’t get through the tangle of leaves and stems?  Since I’ve never grown zucchini before I can only guess.

Harlequin bugs are the pest that decimated my crops of nearly every single leaf last Summer. They even outshone the Cabbage Moth Caterpillars with their voracious appetites.  So far, they haven’t sucked the sap out of any Zucchini leaves, but as I type this post, I’m anxiously watching one Harlequin bug sitting on one of my smallest zucchinis.

Hmmmmmm!

Am I supposed to cut off some of these large leaves?  Or is the curved zucchini merely growing crookedly because the plants are growing in such a small pot and it’s ‘stunted’?  I’m also wondering if the zucchini will grow to a decent size at all?

If you’re a vegetable gardener, please let me know in the comments section.  Otherwise I’ll ask Mr Google later in the day when the household chores are done.

……..and here are the shots made a few days ago with the Sony a6000 on ‘vivid’ picture style (below).

As most of the longtime followers know I’m an amateur photographer first and a gardener second. but you have to admit there’s something really intriguing/fascinating when you look at  vegetable plant details up this close.  It’s almost like there’s a whole miniature world to visit and admire.

Actually Spring onions are one of the best vegetables to observe.  Mine usually grow about 2-3 inches every day.  I’ve just pulled the last one out to make room for another herb seedling friends gave me.

I went for a short walk (15 minutes for normal people, 2 hours for me) down to the nearest pond on Saturday, so when I’ve got time to review the afternoon’s photos and put together a post,  I have some bird images to share.

I have to admit that the pain in my right hip was so severe (despite an extra dose of painkillers), I vowed to never go for a nature walk again after I got home.  Sometimes I think nature walks will be permanently off the agenda now that my total hip replacement surgery has had to be cancelled and I’m limping around like a little old lady.  Other times, I think …..just one more tiny walk and I’ll happily retire from nature photography (and I push the pain limits), but I suspect I’m doing more damage to my hip by walking.  It’s a ‘wear and tear’ injury osteoarthritis, so the Orthopaedic surgeon said, not an ‘old age’ degenerative problem.

THE LOWER STEP (not far from my back gate) WHERE I CAN SEE OVER to FROGS HOLLOW NATURE RESERVE – about 100 feet away.
STANDING ON THE STEEP SAND PATH LOOKING BACK TOWARDS THE 2 STEPS AND THE PATH LEADING UP TO MY ‘BACK GATE’.  Did I tell you it’s very, very, very steep…..the path and my road.

I sat on the lower step down where the path leading to/past Frogs Hollow Nature Reserve starts, for a while after my short walk.  At that minute, 3 Superb Fairy-wrens came to the dried out remains of  an old withered wild Fennel(?) bush and kept me entertained for another 30-40 minutes.  Just goes to show, you don’t have to go far to catch a glimpse of the local bird life in my area.

These wrens were so preoccupied with eating the dried up seeds they didn’t notice me sitting on the step about 7-8 feet away.

It’s all a matter of opening your eyes and truly seeing the small details around you when you live in an urban area.

I think I will grow Zucchini as a permanent part of my balcony garden.  The flowers are so interesting the way they open and close .  Some are gnarled and knotted (the females with the fruit).  Others, (the males), are picture postcard perfect with their golden petals splayed out in a beautiful umbrella shape.