Friday, July 20, 2012

Balcony Garden, the beginning

One good thing about our unit (asides from being 20kms from the CBD that is {yes that was sarcasm}) is that it has a VERY long, north-facing balcony. It's basically too hot for humans to go out there, especially in summer as we don't have an awning.  However, it turns out to be a very good spot for growing "stuff" as "stuff" likes full-on sunshine.

I pondered growing "stuff" on my balcony for ages, but I really never did anything about it as I'm a pretty lazy person.  Why grow stuff when I have episodes of Mad Men + Game of Thrones to watch and blogs to write?


Then I happened about the gardening blog, Saucy Onion, and was given a copy of her book (The Edible Balcony) which was turned out to be my balcony gardening bible.  This coupled with my more frequent visits to local farmers market has really made me want to grow my own food, as much as a apartment-living-city-dweller can.  I felt...inspired to become an urban farmer.


I began by a trip (or three) to Bunnings (where else) and stocked up on pots, organic potting mix, seeds, plant labels and some seaweed plant booster stuff.  I got busy busy and planted some herbs (basil, parsley, coriander, rosemary) and a few vegies (pak choi, carrots, radishes). I was also given some lettuce seedlings from a fellow urban farmer who I work with.

And then I would spend HOURS on the balcony each weekend watching the dirt willing for "stuff" to appear in my grubby little pots.  And in a few weeks it did!!!  It's funny how all the seedlings for all the different types of plants looked the same - like tiny two leafed clovers.


I give the plants a good watering every day in the warmer weather, and every second day when it's not so hot. I have NO idea how much watering is too much...or not enough, but it's great to finally have a reason to go out on the balcony...I LOVE my little garden.


I've had some great success with my little balcony farm and it's quite an addictive hobby.  The radishes were FANTASTIC and I used them in salad. The lettuce was used in a Thai Pork-Mince Salad and the pak choi went into bowls of wonderful wonton noodle soup.  The chives are a great garnish for all of the soups I addicted to cooking in the current chilly weather.  The mint has been going into homemade mint tea (yes, I made my own tea)!

The basil, coriander and parsley were all used in garnishes for salads or soups. The best thing about growing herbs is not having to buy a WHOLE huge bunch of herbs when all the recipe calls for is a few teaspoons - we're certainly wasting less herbage that's for sure.


It's not all been success though.

I managed to kinda grow one shallot - God knows what happened to the other 10 seeds that went into the pot with this lonesome little fella.  The rosemary didn't sprout at all, so I bought a rosemary bush that has since gone belly up. I thought rosemary was EASY to grow...apparently not.  The silly little pots I bought for the herbs really are too small - I'm going to abort mission with them and start again with bigger pots so they have more room to swing their leaves about. And there's been an infestation of aphids on my lovely flowering plant that The Boy and I were given for Christmas.  And fat green caterpillars have been eating my crop! How rude!


Stayed tuned, Miss Piggy has just planted her second crop. Will the aphids make another bid at ruling the balcony garden? Will that damn rosemary EVER just grow?  Can Miss Piggy grow more than one shallot at a time?  Only time will tell.

Miss Piggy xox

22 comments:

  1. My balcony garden is not going so well haha. The rosemary looks dusty (a fungus I think), the basil has pretty much died along with the thyme and my chilli plant is looking VERY sad and droopy. Sigh. Not sure what I am doing wrong!!

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  2. I LOVE it when stuff grows :) I equeally get sad when stuff doesnt grow. I had the same problem with some peas. RIP rosemary. Loving your watering can ;)

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  3. Wow your doing very well! Aphids are easy to kill with soapy water. Put it in a spray gun for easy application. I love gardening.

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  4. Well done! I'm blessed with a shady garden where the only thing that grows is cat grass, so I'm both impressed and envious of your balcony bounty.

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  5. Well done. I can't wait to here about the harvesting, cooking and eating of your balcony garden too!

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  6. One shallot! I hate caterpillars and aphids - they usually kill my crops and motivation...

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  7. Wow that's amazing, I love it! I would love to have a balcony garden!

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  8. Well done! Your radish looks fantastic. Don't despair with your rosemary - as much info as you can find about growing plants, in the end it comes down to trial and error to find the perfect spot, amount of watering etc. for your conditions. There are lots of varieties of rosemary too, perhaps a different variety will do better there?

    We're also growing some herbs and veggies on our balcony, but it's not north facing and we only started in May, so it's not ideal timing. Things are growing, but very slowly. A few of the things I stubbornly planted haven't germinated, e.g. jalapeño chilli, which was really a big gamble since it really needs warm conditions to germinate especially. My rosemary plant is a Gallipoli variety that was available around Anzac Day - it's really doing well and it's sitting in shade for most of the day, which defies what all the literature says to do! Doing the best right now are probably the dwarf snow peas. We tried to buy heirloom seeds where we could, and got a lot from the Diggers Club (diggers.com.au) site.

    I've got the Edible Balcony book too, Indira's got a lovely way of writing and inspiring. There's another good book out there by the Little Veggie Patch Co. Really looking forward to future posts to see how everything progresses.

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  9. Excellent Miss Piggy, when I read the title of your blog post I thought of the Saucy Onion immediately...I should have known that would be your bible! Your balcony looks great, go the urban farmer I say! Have a great weekend.

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  10. I'm so impressed with your commitment! I tried this a few years ago with just a pot of basil. The basil died and the empty pot sat on my balcony for a further two years looking very depressed. Then my mother bought me some self saucing pots and I had pot of basil and thyme in summer which was going gangbusters. As soon as autumn hit, my 1 metre high basil died and I have been in mourning ever since.

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  11. I've wanted to grow stuff on my balcony for ages but I'm not sure how I'll go since all my plants seem to die on me. You've inspired me to give it a shot though - I would love to pluck fresh herbs straight from my balcony!

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  12. I am also a Mad Men addict. I can't wait for the next season. Congrats on all you have done with your gardening. You do make it sound very easy. I thought though that growing rosemary was meant to the easy! Shame about the shallots but your radishes look beyond amazing. Can't wait to see what you produce over summer! xx

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  13. you are doing so well! I need to be more motivated.

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  14. Looove Mad Men. I haven't started Game of Thrones, but it is on my list.
    As for the gardening, hang in there. My pots are hit and miss, but with so much sunshine, I'm sure you'll do a lot better than I have. I find neglect is the best thing for rosemary, maybe too much water for it?
    Good luck though, I hope there becomes a green edible forest out there for you.

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  15. loving your mini garden heeh :D shallots are kind of hard to grow, not sure why though but worth attempting because they're quite expensive these days! good thing chives taste similar and are super easy to grow :)

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  16. Nice work on your balcony garden! I REALLY need to get my gardening act into gear but yours is providing powerful motivation:)

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  17. Nice work - I'm inspired! Although I don't think my courtyard gets enough sun, not to mention I'm the kind that can manage to kill a cactus.

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  18. Hi Miss Piggy,
    so thrilled you've taken the balcony garden plunge. Everything is looking wonderful. You've had so many successes so don't worry too much about the odd failure. Rosemary is an easy grower and actually thrives on neglect. Loves lots of sun and hardly any water and a fertiliser boost only a few times a year. ANd yes bigger pots will allow your plants to develop stronger roots and bigger harvests. Good luck! x Indira (www.saucyonion.blogspot.com)

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  19. Awesome! Even with those few glitches I think you're doing incredibly well. I bet your homemade meals have never tasted so good.

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  20. A balcony garden is definitely something I'd like to pursue. Hopefully it's not a pipe dream!

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