Thursday, November 4, 2010

Done for the season. Be back in spring.


Hi guys...Yeah, I've been gone for awhile. Sorry about that. I've been really busy...Spent a lot of time at work trying to finish some projects, then my contract expired, so I'm trying to find a new job/freelancing. I've been working on my portfolio, submitting applications, etc., and that all takes a lot of time.

And I'm either training or teaching taekwondo almost every night. And I spend most of my free time with my husband, or my little sister (who just moved out here for school).

I did manage to get the last of my harvest in before it froze. Overall, it wasn't a great year. The weather was pretty crummy—very wet.

The herbs are inside for the winter again.

I might post occasionally between now and spring, but don't worry if you don't hear from me until March :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Double cosmos — Rose Bon Bon


I think this is what they're supposed to look like, but only a couple of the plants ended up with the "bon bon."

Cosmos Double Rose Bon Bon Seeds 50 Seeds
Seed packet illustration.

Most of them look like this.

Not that I'm complaining.

They are gorgeous.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Wine pansy


This is a pansy I grew from seed saved from last year. I know the plant I harvested the seeds from was a vibrant violet color, but I also had white/yellow, yellow/brown, and purple bordering on black pansies. I guess it cross-pollinated with the yellow/brown.

I really like the speckles.

Even though the colors are rather different, this bloom is off the same plant as the one in the first photo. It looks kind of washed out (some of the color reminds me of a blush wine), but I kinda like the little white edges on the petals.

This is a different plant, but the seed came from the same seed-pod. I really like the colors on this one.

Funny color combo on this little guy.

I have to wonder, if I saved the seeds from these, what will the next generation bring? I'll find out next year.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Green beans


I planted green beans on May 26. I don't recall the variety (I'm bad, I know), but they're a very compact, bush plant.

Flowers on July 6

Some pretty sizeable beans by July 11

Harvested the first batch today — July 14

I'll saute them tonight with butter and salt.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Cosmos — blooming


The sun was low. I was killing Japanese beetles and tomato hornworms. The breeze had stopped and all I could think about was the heat radiating off the glass doors and the humidity trying to drown me.

Then I saw the first bloom on my Double Cosmos – Rose Bon Bon.

And there are many more buds waiting to open.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bug Cop patrols the tomatoes


The first tomatoes I've ever grown are so red, ripe and absolutely delicious. They're like little Christmas ornaments hanging on a festive tomato-tree.

But what's this?! Poop on the basil? Ewww! Where'd it come from?

Eeewwwwwww! More on the tomato leaves! And it's fresh!

OMG! THEY"RE EATING MY TOMATO LEAVES! I must become Bug Cop to investigate and find the insectoidial criminal!

The search ensues....

You aren't eating the're just an earwig. Ugly, but harmless.

Hi, Ms. Spider, you're not causing any trouble...looks like you even got something for lunch...good!

You! You, Mr. Hornworm, are causing a lot of trouble. Bad! Bad! Bad! Time to squish...


I hoped it was the end, but I keep checking, and keep finding more hornworms. I'll probably have to search all summer.

To Be Continued...

Sunday, July 4, 2010

GROW — July update


Around June 15 this leaf grew to be over 6" wide. Those are my hands; the leaf easily spans both. My palms are exactly 3" wide.


I'm getting some crazy Jurassic Park-style foliage over here. At one point they were trying to take over the entire planter, but once they got big enough I gently encouraged them to grow out the railing to trail off the balcony. I mean ... I shoved them through the railing and kept poking stray leaves back through each time the wind tried to shove them back.

At the same time, I got my first bloom. It's pretty, but I was expecting a deep red as shown on the seed packet. This flower turned out to be paler and orange-y.

But then these babies bloomed. So, I'm satisfied.

These were Alaska, saved from last year's plants. It's a very nice, compact plant. And a more prolific bloomer, but not as large as Spitfire.

The vines are getting pretty long.

I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the
GROW project. Thanks, to Renee's Garden for the seeds.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Basil Tea


I love love love basil tea. I learned about it when I was looking for ideas to use the flowerheads I pick off the plants. (I don't let them bloom because it makes the leaves bitter.)

Here's the method I use to brew:
1. Harvest blooms or leaves.
2. Muddle with a couple tablespoons of sugar. This releases all the great flavor.
3. Pour cold water over the leaves.
4. Add sweetener to taste. I use different ones depending on my mood. I like raw sugar, honey, agave or stevia.
5. Leave it in the fridge for several hours. At least 8, but 24 is better.

You could use hot water like regular tea. But I think that changes the flavor.

You could also use basil to flavor regular tea-leaf tea.

It's the perfect drink for sipping while sitting on the balcony, watching the sky darken, and feeling the first cool breeze of the evening.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Ichiban eggplant blooms and babies


I am completely, perfectly, and radiantly in love with eggplant blossoms. The way the light shines through and highlights the wrinkles; the contrast between the dark, solid purple stem, delicate and rumpled lavender petal and glowingly yellow stamens. Someone should breed an eggplant for the flowers instead of the fruits.

Not that the fruits aren't nice. And here's a photo of the first one of the year! Ichiban (Japanese) eggplants are long and slender, not bulb/egg-shaped. They're supposed to have a sweeter flavor and do well in containers. Though it looks like I might have to stake them. They're growing kind of crooked.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sprouted onions - flower update


The onions that sprouted in my pantry last March are tall and blooming! The flowers are pretty in a sculptural kind of way. I think it's especially fun since usually you look down at onions growing in the garden, but since these are planted chest-high, you have to look up. I think it would be really cool to plant onions like this all the way across the balcony — they'd make a kind of screen. But then they'd blow over and I wouldn't have room to grow anything useful.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pea pods


Garden peas

Snow peas

This is just about all the harvest I got this year – barely a bowl-full of each type. Sad :(

I'm starting to think peas aren't worth growing. (I think this is about all I got out of them last year, too.) They take up a good chunk of space, are annoying to get to climb up supports (I've seriously never had a stupider plant), and don't produce all that much for the space.

Since I don't have much room, I think there are other things I'd rather grow. And it would be nice to open up a little more space. I know my man would appreciate that.

Although, nothing beats the taste of fresh peas. And, the leaves and stems of the pea plant are edible, and although it's getting pretty late in the season (when the stems get woody and stringy). Like many greens (like spinach) they're perfectly fine to eat raw — toss them in a salad or as a garnish. Or you can cook them.

I harvested just the newest, most tender growth.

Sauteed in a little oil

Finished with salt and pepper.

Even the strings are edible, though the texture is very weird. Some of the stems were too woody and unpalatable, but the leaves were still OK.

And that's my culinary adventure for the week ;)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

GROW — June update


Spitfires in a small planter with a trellis. May 15.

In the big planter - May 20th

May 20

Today. The plants in the near planter haven't grown at all in the last few weeks. The ones in the far planter are doing OK, not fantastic, just OK. I have no idea what the problem is. Probably something with the soil, but I don't know how that would have happened — this dirt both grew herbs last year, and was amended with compost this spring. :(

In the big planter, they are FANTASTIC! The newest leaves are huge — 5" across!

And they're getting big enough to peek through the railing.

Still no flowers though.

"I'm growing Nasturtium "Spitfire" for the GROW project. Thanks, to Renee's Garden for the seeds."

Friday, June 4, 2010

Balcony gardening is contagious


I'm very flattered when people comment that they're impressed or jealous of the gardening I've managed to do on my balcony. But, I know balcony gardening isn't just for people with the time and resources I have to put into this hobby. Heck, almost 3 years ago I started with just a couple pots of scraggly little herbs. Then I became a bit obsessed.

OK. Maybe more than a bit.

Last year, I struggled to find a few photos of balcony gardens in my neighborhood. And I was sad that more people didn't have a garden as a part of their home. This summer, the story is different. Here are a few photos of my neighbors. I found a lot more apartments with plants on the balconies than I found last year. Maybe gardening is contagious?