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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.

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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
 

More on the “Mini” Greenhouse June 12, 2012

This “mini” greenhouse is big enough that I can walk into it and stand upright, turn around and do what I need to do for plant in there – so how is that “mini”? (but in truth it is the PERFECT fit for my balcony)  I am so chuffed – can you tell??

 

 
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