Saturday, 9 May 2009

Some pics of the view from the balcony.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Bean sowing day

I have a vision to create a living bean curtain across the balcony using string or string mesh to support the runner beans. It will also be a good way to create a bit of shade.

I made little newspaper pots that will biodegrade in the soil, and will mean that I can plant out the young beans without disturbing their delicate roots.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

It's a gorgeously breezy sunshiney evening out. Having been away over the bank holiday we came back to find everything in the garden almost twice as big as they were before. I've started dreaming about plants too. The last dream I had suggested that it was time to repot the sunflowers, and I think I agree (see pic above).

Excitingly, the sweetpea has started climbing the willow support I made it last week. It has a tentative little grip, like a tiny baby. I'm amazed at how this happens!

Unfortunately the strong winds today knocked an old bucket onto my newly repotted tomatoes and one of them was sliced clean in two. Sad. Perhaps it will re-shoot from the base.

James and I went to Little Venice at the weekend for the canalside festival. We couldn't resist picking up a few little plants from the guys at Herbal Haven. I've never seen so many brilliant inspiring herbs in one place. Somewhat to my dismay we resisted buying less utilitarian (and edible) plants such as woad, and instead opted for some stunning colours and scents: Purple basil, mustard leaves, curry plant and black peppermint. They look amazing together.

While the balcony has so far been immune to slugs and snails (joy), pigeons and aphids present themselves as our new little enemies. The pigeons come and stand around like park thugs, littering the balcony with gooey poos. I've seen there's a string you can get that 'hums' when it's pulled taut, apparently they hate that. Aphids are having a great time on the apple mint. I'm going to try spraying it with diluted washing up liquid - and failing that, I'll probably be carrying out a range of experiments to get rid of them....sorry aphids!

Growing in small spaces is definitely a challenge, and it seems the more climbing or trailing plants you have the better. I've decided to have a stab at making my own wicker hanging baskets. The ones at the garden centre are too expensive for me, plus they don't really spark my imagination, plus I have all this willow left over from a kids lantern making workshop I ran a couple of summers ago. If it's not dead fresh willow then it needs to be soaked in water for a few hours which makes it bendy again. I'm soaking mine in the bath. I'm imagining a teardrop shape hanging basket, something like a cocoon; with trailing plants. Or perhaps a strawberry shaped hanging basket painted red, and then we can grow strawberries in it.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Tidying up

We adopted this little tortoise fellow from Hackney City Farm. They have a box of all the unwanted clay projects from their kids workshops. We offered a donation, and this guy followed us home. He's sitting in the strawberry plant, protecting it from the gazillion pigeons which poo and nest all over our building.
In other news, I've spent some time tidying things up and painting some old terracotta pots that we managed to pick up from James' parents. I'm also trying to work out how to grow runner beans in the small space that we have (I've got a few ideas). Runner beans are magical, and the speckled black and pink seeds are equally fairytale. These are the seeds that Jack swapped Daisy the cow for. They're incredible. In addition, runner beans were the only green vegetable I ate up until I was 16. That's because I learned to grow them when I was about 9 and there's nothing more satisfying than eating something you just grew from seed to towering vine. So I'm going to get some, and they can climb up the railings and beyond to the land of the giants.

As for tomatoes, we bought two varieties at Beaconsfield farmer's market (4th Saturday of the month. Go, it's lovely). The two varieties we bought were: 'Moneymaker' for some sympathetic magic, and 'Golden Sunrise' for its gorgeous yellow colour. I also picked up a couple of 'Roma Plum' tomato plants from Brick Lane cos they were cheap and we don't have a decent windowsill in the flat to have started them from seed. That's my excuse anyway. They're getting a little bit too big for their pots so this Saturday we're probably going to try and plant them into grow bags or long containers with some supports. How exciting.

Some wild fleurs a-sproutin:

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

A place to begin

This blog begins about three weeks in to our little gardening project. It's been a riot so far, you've really missed out. We've lugged comedy compost and cried over spilt seeds, and debated over whether I stole the cleaner's mop bucket or not, you get the idea.... it's been a rollercoaster. Anyhow, here's what's in the botanical menagerie thus far:

- Tomatoes (All upwards varieties: Roma plum, Moneymaker and Golden sunrise), Mixed salad (includes Mizuna, Pak Choi and Rocket), Swiss chard, Borage, Climbing nasturtiums, Sunflowers, Courgettes, Beetroot, Strawberry, Apple mint, Coriander & Parsley
And then there's a few flowers (some edible and some not), to brighten things up:
-Sweetpea, Patio rose , Poppies, Wild flower mixtures, Pansies, Calendula

I decided to try and grow mainly edible flowers, both for their colour and so I can try out colourful salad petals. I've heard you can even cook sunflowers in some capacity, so I'll no doubt be giving that a go too. In trying to decide what to grow, we've opted for veg that's generally more expensive to buy in the shops, and that doesn't take up too much growing room for the amount you get back (ie. potatoes and carrots are cheap, and would take up a lot of space to grow, so we're opting for beans, salads, baby courgettes, etc - and looking out for anything that will grow upwards).