Thursday, April 22, 2010

Balcony garden update — the Earth Day edition


From the Garden Center.
1 patio-sized Tomato
2 Sweet Red Peppers
2 Sweet Yellow Peppers
1 Anaheim Pepper
1 Garden Salsa Pepper
2 Basil
1 Cilantro

I seem to have lost a couple inches of soil in each planter over the winter. Maybe it leaked out the bottom? So, I also bought a bag of rich, hummus-y potting soil. It's thick, dark stuff. I'd be afraid of it compacting, except I'm mixing it into the used soil which is super light. It actually made an acceptable mix. Not an exactly scientific way to go about it...

Also bought a couple (2x6') wood trellises to put on either side of the sliding glass doors.

We had a couple cold nights, but everything lived with no apparent damage.

The tomato, basil + peppers are set out where they're sure to get lots of light, and be a bit more protected from the wind. I think part of the reason my peppers didn't do well last year was that they were in the railing planters and had to deal with a lot of wind. They grew very thick stems, didn't put out a lot of leaves, and a lot of flowers blew away. At least, I think the flowers blew away, because I'd notice them one day, and they'd be completely gone the next.


more peas

black-seeded simpson lettuce, and stakes for more peas

a mix of lettuce and mesclun

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tracking expenses


Last year I did a bad job of keeping track of how much this garden cost me. I tried. I kept a good record at the beginning. But I didn't keep track when I started buying the potting soil and the window box planters. Why? Because they were damn expensive and I don't want to admit to how much I shelled out.

But, I feel a little better about it now. Why? Because I'm pretty sure this year's garden is going to cost very, very little now I have the containers and soil. I don't need (have room for) more. And the hubby asked me to scale back this year so we can actually fit a couple people out there :)

I have a lot of leftover seeds from last year — and I'll probably have more left for next year, too. Lettuce, peas, carrots... Plus, I saved the seeds my nasturtiums made! (And I got free nasturtium seeds from Renee's Garden!!!) I overwintered most of my herbs — so don't have to buy new plants. I will have to buy basil, peppers, and eggplant seedlings, and maybe a few other vegetables. Maybe, and it's a big maybe, I'll try a tomato. I don't generally like tomatoes, except in salsa. So, I'd just have to resign myself to eating a lot of salsa. Oh, shoot. :)

And I want to build a trellis around the sliding glass doors and vines to grow up it. Those won't be edible unless I do it with the nasturtiums. I wanted clematis, but I'll give the nasturtiums a shot at it this year and see how they do.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cornelian-Cherry Dogwood


Cornelian-Cherry Dogwood — Cornus mas

It took me forever, but I finally remembered this shrub from the plants class I took (over 5 years ago). OK maybe Google helped, but I did know it was a dogwood.

Also —
I added lables to all my recent, and some old, posts. So now I can easily take a look back to see how the garden progressed (and filter out my photos and other random posts). Or filter to just show pretty photos. Over a year in and I'm still trying to figure out how to do this blogging thing. Anyone else make a similar useful "discovery?"

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Balcony garden update


Growing on the balcony now...




Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Monday, April 5, 2010

I learned a new plant!


I'd never seen these before. Had to do a bit of googling, but figured out that it's an iris crocus.

Both these varieties were in the same yard. I stumbled on it when I took a detour on my bike. I think I'll have to go by that house later in the year to see if they grow anything else interesting.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Seed GROW project — Nasturtium "Spitfire"


This year I'm participating in the Seed GROW Project put together by MrBrownThumb. Renee's Garden donated a packet of Climbing Nasturtium "Spitfire" seeds to all participants. I got my packet weeks ago, but today is the official starting date.

I am really excited to get going. I'm going to start them indoors in paper egg cartons like I did for my nasturtiums last year. It will happen this week, I just didn't have time to do it before I left town for the holiday.

I have high expectations for this variety. Last year I grew a bush type of nasturtium, and it didn't really spread out or hang down at all from the edge of the balcony planters. So this year I'm excited to see if these will cascade down. I also want to try training them to grow up a trellis and frame the sliding doors with them. I think it will be really pretty. I have 37 seeds (5gm) to work with.

Renee's Garden also sent a packet of seeds for Double Cosmos "Rose Bon Bon." I haven't grown cosmos before, but they're supposedly good cut flowers. Having flowers I could cut and do nicely in a vase was something I missed planning for last year. I just have to figure out where to put them.

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

Friday, April 2, 2010

Pea shoots + warm weather


Yesterday Mother Nature played a helluvan April Fools Day joke on us in the Midwest — the high was in the mid 80s. Yeah... It wasn't just a warm, pleasant spring day, it was kinda hot. The joke is that that amazing weather only lasted the day. The 10-day forecast has highs all in the mid 50s-mid 60s — good for my cool-weather crops, but I'll admit I'm itching for summer after that little taste. Mother Nature is such a tease!

And it's supposed to thunderstorm today, so I didn't ride my bike to work. But I'm kinda looking forward to the storm. I like thunderstorms — the charged air, strong fresh breeze, clean smell... Even just in this (so far) rainless spring I find myself taking extra deep breaths every time I step outside. It's just been such a relief. I don't know if I'd have been able to stand being cooped up indoors much longer.

Out on the balcony garden the peas certainly liked the warmth. They popped up like little jack-in-the-boxes. Wednesday there was just a hint of green in a couple spots and by this morning they'd put on almost an inch. They sure took their sweet time about it though — I planted them on March 16th. So maybe now they're trying to make up for being lazy before.

The chives put on a lot more growth, too. (Compare to this photo from Monday.)

The lettuce has grown, too. I can see a few secondary leaves now.

And the mint I cut back not quite 2 weeks ago put out a lot of fresh, tasty growth in the last couple days. I can almost taste the summer mojitos in my mouth. Mmmmm.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Siberian Squill on Iowa State campus


The thing about having a very tiny balcony garden is that I have to find other places to revel in spacious beauty. Tall shade-trees, fragrant shrubs, large swaths of flowering bulbs, etc. Iowa State's campus fills that need very nicely. It's one of the most beautiful university campuses in the country. I went a little out of my way yesterday to get my spring bulb fix.

I adore the siberian squill on the hill next to the president's house (The Knoll). Squill is always the first flower up and blooming in the spring.

Up close they're so sweet and delicate. I can't get over the tiny blue line through each petal! Even the anthers are blue!

And they're so dramatic in large masses.

I really like this little clump of blue/white ones. They're a little larger and stuck out from the sea of blue-striped ones.

Also, the weather was nice enough that I slept with the windows open last night. It did get a little chilly (enough to wake me around 5am). But was otherwise awesome. And I rode my bike to work today. Oh, yes. It's spring :D