If you’ve been following my nature blog and reading about my balcony garden exploits in the past, you’ll be pleased to hear…..
I saw a BLUE berry yesterday…….
Then I turned over leaves where I knew bundles of green berries had been hiding…….
Ate all the 6-7 berries straight off the bush……and then went to get the cotton bird netting to cover it. Only comment I can say is that I hope the rest ripen through the netting.
…..and I hope, what I suspect is……the plant is pot-bound and that doesn’t affect the future ripening. If the bush grows much larger, I’ll have to give it to my brother to plant in the ground up at his farm.
I suppose I should cut off a piece, but since it was a small roll of netting, I’ve just bundled the excess up with a rubber band and left it on the ground.
Yesterday was very windy (just as the other 360+ days of the year are around my outer western suburban apartment 🙂 ).
But my Shot of the Day shows there’s never time for a ‘make-up and hair session‘ before the day’s bird photography session. So with feathers flying this way and that, here was the shot. Can’t remember if it was through the glass window I’d washed the day before, OR simply, right angle, right time of day with no reflections or marks on the glass.
Probably the latter.
I’d spent most of the afternoon in my balcony garden the day before and soon discovered all the larger pots are now too heavy for me to move around. I suspected many were pot-bound and in one rather ground-breaking, (and somewhat sad), moment, made the decision to dismantle and ditch all large potted plants (including the 3 now-empty) pots meant for this summer’s tomato crop.
Not sure that the next size pots I have are deep enough for a tomato plant (as shown in last summer’s tomato crop below). You all know how excited I was in anticipation of another bumper tomato crop.
When I cut off all the tall Rosemary branches into small pieces and tipped out the plant/soil, I was shocked to discover just how pot-bound it was.
I couldn’t see any shred of soil left, only a basket weave of tightly woven roots in the shape of an elongated square. I should have photographed it as, you gardeners out there would never have believed your eyes.
I’ve never seen such a pot-bound plant……even on my favourite TV gardening show Gardening Australiawhere presenters have shown how to re-pot a plant that is pot bound.
If you’ve followed my balcony gardening efforts through recent years, you will appreciate what a hard decision this was. But the recent heart scare and short stay in hospital re-inforced my thought process. I have to be more sensible in lifting weight with (inherited) Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy.
Anyway, back to the garden…….
When that gorgeous Nemesia (above) is finished that large pot will be emptied. Well, its supposed to be an annual, but with my micro-climate, it may bloom for some time yet.
I’ll keep the white Alyssum and Kale pots until the flowers/vegetable are finished and then empty those, although I hope to get some decent potting soil out of the lower half of those pots, being more recently planted and much more shallow-rooted.
I’ve already eaten all the baby leafed Spinach which I’d kept going for many many months, only plucking off the outer leaves each time I harvested a handful of leafy greens for lunch.
And, I’ve got a brilliant idea for those 6 large square pots. They will be washed, dried and turned upside down to place the smaller pots on. That will make 6 small pots easier to water and much easier to check for pests without having to bend over.
There’s always something good to come out of something less than desirable in my life.
There are always options.
You just have to be creative and imagine other possibilities when faced with less favourable decisions which have to be made.
Yesterday I had the thrill of the year when both a male Superb Fairy-wren in full breeding plumage and a female flew down to the garden at the same time. I was so excited I couldn’t hold the heavy camera & 150-500mm lens still enough. But apart from that bad camera shake, the clean windows didn’t offer any clear shot anyway. But I’m still going to share the shots so you can get some idea of the adult blue feathered male and the plainer female together.
female Superb Fairy-wren
Since I’ve scattered birdseed in between many of the herb and spinach plants yesterday, hopefully I’ll get another photo opportunity when the sliding door is open on a warmer day.
Funnily enough, I’d been planning on going out and still had my jacket on.
I decided not to go out, but finish the article I was typing earlier and an hour and a half later, when the sun was lower in the sky, I got lucky and a tiny male Fairy-wren chick landed on the Sorrel pot which was further up the balcony space, closer to my desk.
If you look carefully in the second image below, or zoom in, you can see a faint pale blue tinge to the feathers. This tiny wren was definitely a baby boy.
How strange that many of the birds visited this particular pot during the day, as I had no bird seed scattered around it and Sorrel (Rumex sanguineus) leaves, like the Mizuma ‘Red’ (Brassica rapa var nipposinica) up near the lettuces, are a bit peppery, or have a sharp tangy acidic flavour.
Anyway, I’ve put some bird seed around the Sorrel plant and moved it to a position where I hope there is no glass reflection this morning. The House Sparrows have found it, now for the Fairy-wrens.
I’ve had several Superb Fairy-wrens and House Sparrows visiting already this morning, and at one stage, 5-6 birds at once. For a change, I just sat at my desk watching all the birds visit every herb, flower and vegetable pot in turn and didn’t attempt any more photos. Anyway, I think a trip to the archives is necessary as we’ve had enough balcony bird shots in recent weeks.
Today, the winds are even more gusty and storms forecast, but doesn’t it always rain when you’ve washed the outside of the windows 😀
Maybe that’s a tip I should share with other apartment dwellers trying to have a small Balcony Garden.
Wash your windows and balcony door – once a week at least.
PS I forgot to mention…….the Harlequin Bugs are back in town.
This shot, made yesterday, was good enough in focus to crop by 75%. Best insect photo I’ve made in quite some time.
I thought it was Spring and time to plant my Summer herbs and lettuces 😯
But seriously, in my constant attempts to keep myself amused indoors this past Winter, I decided to do a little experiment. I’d try an indoor garden to keep the Harlequin Bugs and Cabbage Moth Caterpillars at bay 😉 …….well, for the next month or two anyway. I found another 2 Harlequin Bugs on my Rosemary bush on Saturday – that makes 3 little insects that over-wintered in my Herb Garden.
I actually bought my seedlings last Wednesday and despite being short of potting soil, planted my indoor garden on Saturday. With the wall heater set on fairly low, it should be warm enough indoors for the next 4-6 weeks for a growth spurt.
I bought my old blue painted TV trolley, (used as a potting bench outdoors normally), indoors after a good clean of winter cobwebs. I removed the centre shelf to allow ready access for the light on the lower shelf. I’ll rotate & turn all 4 planters so they get an even share of light.
Of course when the heat of Summer casts its spell over my west-facing balcony, my indoor garden will probably have to be moved outdoors.
I pull the block-out blinds down from about 2.30pm when the sun moves over my apartment building in summer and turns the lovely cool space into a sauna, (or hothouse). The air conditioner will probably be too cold to raise summer crops also, as I have it set on 16C (60F). I feel the heat terribly in Melbourne’s hot Summers and of course, being very fair, get badly sunburnt in about 10 minutes outdoors in the hot sun, despite repeated applications of Sunscreen when taking photos in the Botanic Gardens back in 2011,2012 & 2013.
…..and I do need to get a clear hard floor mat to catch any accidental watering spills too. I put a folded tough green garbage bag on the carpet, but that looked too unsightly.
Anyone want to place any bets on the success, (or not), of my indoor garden?
NOTE: By the way, if you see any misspelt words/plant names, it’s that damn WordPress Spellcheck that keeps overwriting my typing, not actual typos.
The new Mint bush had 10 new leaves in 24 hours after I planted it. It’s an invasive plant so best to keep it separate from other plantings.
LETTUCE MULTILEAF (Lactucca sativa)
PERENNIAL BASIL (Mentha x rotundifolia)
LETTUCE MULTILEAF (Lactucca sativa)
SORREL RUMEX (Rumex sanguineus)
PAK CHOY (Brassica rapa) which grows extremely well planted so close together.
New (for me) MIZUNA ‘RED’ (Brassica rapa var nipposinica)
THE HOUSE SPARROWS APPROVED
THIS YOUNG FEMALE WAS RATHER NAIVE IF SHE THOUGHT I COULDN’T SEE HER BEHIND THE CAPSICUM PLANT
A MALE CALLED OUT TO HIS MATES TO COME AND ENJOY THE DIGGING SESSION
THE COUPLE OF SPARROWS STANDING ON THE BALCONY FENCE BEHIND THE ROSEMARY AND PARSLEY WEREN’T QUITE SURE
I SENT A TELEPATHIC MESSAGE FOR THE SPARROW TO STOP HIDING AND POSE FOR A PHOTO
HE KEPT DIGGING. HE KNEW THERE WAS BIRDSEED SOMEWHERE IN THIS POT.
AS IF HE SUDDENLY HEARD MY WORDS, HE POPPED UP HIS HEAD AND SAID “ARE YOU TALKING TO ME?”
FIRST SIGHT OF THE MORNING – MORE SOIL FLICKED OUT OF THE POTS IN THEIR MAD HASTE DIGGING FOR SEED.