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Balcony Garden Mystery July 8, 2012

I came home after a busy weekend ( babysitting, 6th birthday partying) and found my green house – normally flush against the side brick wall (seen in the back ground)  pulled out and displaced quite some difference.

Interesting – considering I live on the 9th floor.  And the apartment had been locked.

I pondered this for a while as I cleaned up the seedlings and repaired the damage and repositioned the greenhouse.  I also added some other plants and plantings to weight it down.

And it dawned on me.  It is winter in Australia.  There are flocks of cockatoos around and about lurking looking for a fresh green feed.  I initially planted a big pot of chives and shallots and left it in the open on the table on the balcony and the birds ate each and every shoot down to the soil and beyond until the huge pot was barren.

Cockatoos are strong.  Feels right.  Also was heartening to see they couldn’t get IN even though they displaced things.

I have made it harder for them now.

 

FAQ’s June 15, 2012

  • Stagger your planting.   Do not plant all your tomatoes today.  You aren’t going to need hundreds in a few weeks – are you?  So assess what you might need and the family might use, and plant some this week and a week later a similar amount – and so on.  Thinking about what vegetables you eat and cook with weekly might be a good starting point!!
  • Fresh vegetables from your garden can contain up to 45% more nutrients than the “fresh” stuff fromy our supermarket.
  • If you have a yard and can plant a kitchen garden – asparagus, tomatoes, fennel, parsley and rocket are easy to grow as are sage, silverbeet, spinach, potato, pumpkin, basil, rosemary, dill, corn, zucchini, cucumber and radish.
  • Companion plant: this is planting certain things next to each other, and it is usually a natural pest control: basil is a companion for tomatoes and beans; rosemary also near beans and swiss chard; chives near carrots.  Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion Planting Chart might help.
  • Use organic pesticide.  I have brewed my own, often.  A simple one is to steep 2 or 3 cloves of garlic in hot water for several hours, strain and spray on leaves.    The safest commercial deterent I have found is Yates Nature’s Way Dipel.  With this it is an organic bacteria.  You can spray, pick, wash and eat vegetables immediately.

If you don’t have a garden and just a balcony, like me, plant in pots in a sunny spot.

  • containers should be at least40cm deep
  • broccoli, celery, leeks beetroot and strawberries are pottable although I would give pumpkins a miss!
  • 23cm soil for herbs and leafy vegetables
  • 30cm for most vegetables
  • at least 40cm for potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers
  • Potatoes grow well in a bag with drainage holes ona  balcony as long as they get sun.
  • Mint and parsley are good indoor plants as they will grow in the shade.
 

Project grow My Own

I aim to:

  • become self sustaining for fresh vegetables from now on
  • utilise “recyclables” (things I would otherwise turf out) instead of purchasing more.  I have instituted a “one in, one out” policy on my life, and within our lives.  As a starting point and a yardstick to where I choose to go from hereonin.  This means all those cracked cups and teapots and cruddy pans, don’t get turfed; they are repurposed instead to growing our fresh fruit and vegetables, moving forward.
  • plan carefully; this included allocating space, calendarising a planting schedule ( so crops ripen sequentially thereby eliminating the need to deal with hundreds of one vege or fruit.)
  • companion plant
  • use the best compost possible
  • use a natural fertiliser
  • do a little towards this goal every single day
  • document every step of the way
 

Companion Planting Guide

Companion Planting Guide

[open this frame in new window for printing]

Plant Companions Function Foes
Apple Nasturtium Climbs
tree and repels codling moth.
Asparagus Tomatoes,
Parsley, Basil
Balm Tomatoes Improves
growth and flavour – attracts bees
Basil
Tomatoes helps
repel flies and mosquitoes
Rue
Beans Potatoes
Carrots, Cucumber, cauliflower, summer savoury, most other vegetables
and herbs.
Onions
Garlic Gladiolus
Beetroot Onions,
Lettuce, Cabbage, Silver beet, Kohlrabi
Birch
dead
leaves encourage compost fermentation.
Borage
Tomatoes,
squash and strawberries
Deters
tomato worm, improves growth and flavour and in the strawberry patch will
increase the yield.
Brassica’s
(Cabbage, Cauliflower, Broccoli
Aromatic
plants, sage, dill, camomile,beets, peppermint, rosemary, Beans, Celery,
Onions, Potatoes, dwarf zinnias.
Dill
attracts a wasp to control cabbage moth. Zinnias attract lady bugs to
protect plants.
strawberries,
Tomatoes
Broad
beans
Potatoes,
Peas, Beans
Caraway
helps
breakdown heavy soils.
Carrots Lettuce,
Peas, Leeks, Chives, Onions, Cucumbers, Beans, tomatoes, wormwood, sage,
rosemary
Dill
in flower and being stored with apples
Catnip
repels
fleas, ants and rodents.
Cauliflower Celery
Celery
& Celeriac
Chives,
Leeks, Tomatoes, Dwarf Beans, Brassica’s
Celery
& Celeriac
Chives,
Leeks, Tomatoes, Dwarf Beans
Chamomile
Cabbages
and onions
deters
flies and mosquitoes and gives strength to any plant growing nearby.
Chives
Carrots grown
beneath apple trees will help to prevent apple scab; beneath roses will
keep away aphids and blackspot. Deters aphids on lettuce and peas. Spray
will deter downy and powdery mildew on gooseberries and cucumbers.
Peas,
beans
Citrus Bracken
Fern grape vines
Repels
stink beetles
Comfrey Avocados
and most fruit trees
Garden
edging, compost activator, medicinal, foliage spray, nutrient miner, essential
to all gardens.
Cucumbers Beans,
corn, peas, radish, sunflowers
Potatoes,
aromatic herbs
Dill Brassica’s Dill
attracts predator wasp for cabbage moth.
Elderberry
a
general insecticide, the leaves encourage compost fermentation, the flowers
and berries make lovely wine!
Fennel. (not
F. vulgare or F.officionale) repels flies, fleas and ants
Most
plants dislike it
French
Marigold
Tomatoes
most vegetables.
root
secretions kill nematodes in the soil. Will repel white fly amongst tomatoes.
Fruit
trees
nettles,
garlic, chives, tansy, southernwood and horseradish
Garlic. Roses,
raspberry
helps
keep aphids away from roses and raspberries, repels cabbage butterfly
Peas
and beans
Geranium Strong
aroma – deters insects and encourages bees
Grapes Hyssop,
tansy and sage
Hyssop
Cabbage,
grapes
attracts
cabbage white moth keeping Brassica’s free from infestation.
Radishes
Leek Onion,
celery, carrot
Lettuce tall
flowers, carrots, radish, onion family
Flowers
offer light shade for lettuce
Marigolds Tomatoes,
most vegetables
Kills
couch, nematodes and eel worm
Melon Radish
Mint
Cabbage,
tomatoes
Deters
white cabbage moth, deters ants and fleas (especially spearmint), will
deter clothes moths.
Nasturtium
Radishes,
cabbages, zucchini cucurbits, fruit trees
secrete
a mustard oil, which many insects find attractive and will seek out, particularly
the cabbage white moth. The flowers repel aphids and the cucumber beetle.
The climbing variety grown up apple trees will repel codling moth.
Nettle Beneficial
anywhere, increases aroma and pungency of other herbs
Onion
and garlic
Beets,
summer savoury, tomatoes, lettuce, strawberries, camomile
Parsley Tomato,
asparagus, roses
Deters
rose beetle, improves tomato and asparagus.
Peas Carrots,
turnips, corn, beans, radishes, cucumbers, most vegetables and herbs
Onions,
garlic gladiolas, potatoes
Potato Beans,
cabbage, marigold, horseradish (plant at corners of patch) eggplant, sweet
alyssum.
Alyssum
attracts beneficial wasps and acts as a living ground cover
Pumpkin,
squash, cucumber, sunflower, tomato, raspberry
Pumpkin Corn Potato
Pyrethrum
will
repel bugs if grown around the vegetable garden.
Radish Peas,
nasturtium, lettuce, cucumbers, spinach
Radish
attracts leaf minor away from spinach
Raspberry Most
vegetables
Blackberries,
tomatoes, potato
Rosemary
Cabbage,
beans, carrots, sage
Deters
cabbage moth, bean beetles and carrot fly
Roses Garlic,
chives, parsley, mignonette lettuce.
Rue
(Rutus, not Peganum)
keeps
cats and dogs off garden beds if planted round the borders.
Sage
Rosemary,
cabbage and carrots
Deters
cabbage moth and carrot fly
Cucumbers
Spinach Strawberries
Squash Nasturtium
Corn
Strawberries Bush
bean, spinach, borage, lettuce
Cabbage
Sunflower Cucumbers Potato
Sweet
Corn
Potatoes,
Peas, Beans, cucumbers, pumpkin, squash
Corn
acts as a trellis for beans and beans attract predators of corn pests.
Tansy
Fruit
trees, roses and raspberries
repels
moths, flies and ants. Plant beneath peach trees to repel harmful flying
insects. Tansy leaves assist compost fermentation.
Thyme Here
and there in the garden
Protects
cabbages, improves growth and flavour of vegetables, general insect repellent.
Tomatoes Asparagus,
Parsley, Chives, onion, Broccoli, Sweet Basil, marigold, carrots, parsley.
Kohlrabi,
potato, fennel, cabbage
Turnip Peas,
nasturtium, lettuce, cucumbers
Wormwood
(Artemesia, not Ambrosia)
although
it can inhibit the growth of plants near it, wormwood does repel moths,
flies and fleas and keeps animals off the garden.
Yarrow Near
aromatic herbs and vegetables
Plant
along borders and paths. Enhances essential oil production and flavour
 

Grow Your Own – Just Thoughts

As I am working to nourish myself, and wandering supermarkets and checking out the costs of herbs, fruit and vegetables, it has become apparent to me that attempting to “grow your own” makes increasing sense.

How many of our children know where fruit and vegetables come from? Even if we are renting, and have limited space or poor soil, there are small things we can do, and indeed should do. There is something satisfying about growing, and nurturing. Feeding ones family satisfies some basic elemental need in one, too.  At least it does in me.

So growing your own will tick both the cost and quality boxes.

 

Planning my Balcony Garden

My choices in food and produce have become increasingly organic and then progressively locally grown – utilising the Farmers’ Market at the local shopping square each Thursday am for my produce as much as possible.  By the way, at Hornsby Markets, Darcy is the one guaranteed organic and the best!!!!

The benefits are conscience; ( carbon footprint, sustainability etc) and also limiting hormones and chemicals being ingested unbeknownst to me.  This is centred around what is best for the body I have as well as what is the best possible choices thinking and looking ahead beyond my own lifespan.

It has always been a goal of mine to set up a balcony garden for fruit and vegetables as the ultimate in minimising my carbon footprint as well as becoming increasingly self sustainable.  This weekend I have set aside and used some of my time to begin planning and costing this out.

 

Balcony Garden – Thoughts June 14, 2012

The balcony on my apartment is generous.  With this in mind I am considering what I might plan, and how I might organise this to best advantage with a move towards cutting my “fresh” vegetable purchase costs while cutting my carbon footprint, and ensuring the ingredients I use daily are the absolute freshest.

It is one thing to think about this and consider this and add it to a list as a goal.  BUT to make it happen takes action.

This weekend I have wandered the shopping center and checked out the gardening supplies section to ascertain what is readily, easily and cheaply available.  I have made copious notes and snapped some quick pictures ( including products, pots, trees, seeds, plant stock, soil, mulching).

My next step is to measure the balcony, observe and note where the sun comes from and when.

I then will decide on on how I will place the pots and baskets – and what will go in each  – and hey presto; begin!!!

So far, I have decided on using 6 large pots as a garden base.  Why big pots?  They don’t dry out so quickly.  And hydration is important to plant – for the plants aline and for the quality of the fruits and vegetables they produce. They also heat up more slowly than small pots.

Pot 1: One fruit salad plant: CITRUS. Around the base of the tree I will plant silver beet.

Citrus Fruit (between 2 and 8 grafts available per tree) – can combine oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes, tangelos, grapefruit and pomelos.  There can be up to two different varieties of oranges and mandarins only. These ripen at different times, one in winter, the other in summer.  The more fruits on a tree, the longer the picking season, even all year round.  Only the most popular fruits are chosen for the Citrus Fruit Salad Tree.  These are a dwarfing variety of tree and can withstand cold temperatures down to minus 8 degrees centigrade.  Being a dwarfing type, the height is kept to a minimum to allow for easy, safe harvesting of the fruit.  Grown in containers-approximately 1.3 metres(4ft) high x 1 metre(3ft) wide.   The size these trees get to is important to better plot and place all pots and baskets appropriately.  These I will be ordering directly from the suppliers.  I will choose tahitian lime, lemon and mandarin.  3 to 4 lemons all year around plus mandarin in autumn and limes in summer.

POT 2: One grapevine : give me one month of fruit; I will also use tiny leaves in salad, and large ones I will stuff.  Around the base of the vine I will plant thornless blackberries and allow them to trail down the sides of the pot

POT 3: Dwarf apple.  Plant strawberries around the base and allow to trail all over and down the sides of the pot.

POT 4: An all-in-one dwarf almond; plant parley ( curly, continential and coriander) around the base.

POT 5: Giant native Atherton raspberry; plant Cape gooseberries and allow them to trail.

POT 6: Dwarf nectarines;  plant bok choy around the base.

This will form the base of my gardening endeavours.

RESEARCH LINKS:

Gardening with Angus

Vertical Gardens I like this system and it is affordable and suits standard drip watering pipe ( easily available and not clumsy and inelegant).  I am seriously considering this for the side wall ( largely for pick , grow greens and herbs.

 

 
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