Sunday, July 27, 2014

Curled Leaves on the Peppers

My peppers have been growing well. Hard to tell in the images but all four plants are loaded with peppers. I've had to prop the Jimmy Nardellos up to prevent them from falling over. I don't know what I'm going to do with the Hot Wax peppers this year.

Something I noticed a while back was that all of the leaves are curling at the edges. I haven't figured out exactly what is causing this. There are no bugs on the plants which is a miracle. I think this is the first time I've grown peppers and not had problems with aphids. There are no spider mites to be seen anywhere on the balcony. It must be a nutrient deficiency but I'm not sure which one or why that would be a problem. There are no other signs of problems. No yellow or dead leaves. No problems with fruit set. Nothing. Perfectly healthy plants with.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The first Charentais melon

It was very windy last night and I lost a big branch from my brandywine tomato plant. And it had a couple of small green tomatoes on it so I wasn't overly happy to see that. But I was looking over the Charentais melon plants and was quite surprised to discover a new melon.

These plants have been growing well. A bit of powdery mildew but it hasn't completely taken over yet. The plants put out lots of male flowers and occasionally a few females. I've hand pollinated at least a half dozen female flowers and this is the first to produce. The flowers are quite small and the males don't appear to produce much pollen.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bolting Fennel

I've tried growing Florence Fennel in the past without much luck. Florence Fennel is suppose to grow large and bulbous just above the soil surface. Light is a big problem for me and without proper sunlight, it grows tall and skinny, with nice tops and no bottom. I figured the only way I'd have any success with fennel would be to get it up above the balcony railing at the edge of the balcony. Lots of sunlight there But as usual, I was a bit lazy this year and before I knew it, the fennel had started to grow long and lanky before I finally got it up into an adequate amount of sunlight.

Once I got it up there, it was happy until I had to do some re-arranging to get more light to some other plants. The fennel, which I had pretty much given up on, got stuck down in a shady corner and I stopped watering it regularly. After a bit of hot weather, it started to bolt. One of the plants is just starting to produce flowers.

I may uproot these and try again although I think it's getting a little late in the season to be starting fennel from seed. On the other hand, growing it into the fall means I won't have the hot weather to deal with. But with tomatoes, peppers and melons demanding all of my sunny spots, I'm not sure I can give any fennel plants the sunlight they desire.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Trellis for the Melons

I was going to construct a bigger trellis for the Charentais melons, but instead decided to just use what I had lying around. The vines were getting long and really needed to get up into the sunlight. The upright poles are over 6 ft so I can still add a few horizontal polls. By the end of next month I should have a wall of vines growing from these two plants. I think each plant has 5 or 6 secondary vines and I'm going to start pinching them back, limiting each plant to two or three vines. I'm starting to see male flowers. No females yet.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Transplanted and growing well

These were all planted well over a week ago... maybe two weeks now. Time has been flying lately. The two plants on the left are Charentais Melons. And one of them doesn't look too good in this image but it has since managed to "stabilize" and start growing. I waited too long to transplant them but I'm glad I did because we had a week of cold windy weather in mid May that would have done them in if I had transplanted them earlier. The tomato on the right is a Brandywine and it's doing great.

I haven't built proper trellises for the melon plants yet but I do need to get on that soon. I was putting it off, waiting to see if they would grow ok.  I also planted a few pepper plants in a sunny spot: Hungarian Hot Wax and Jimmy Nardello's. Had lots of trouble getting the Nardello's to grow. I seeded maybe two dozen and only got three to grow to transplant size. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

New Container for New Tomatoes

Of all the tomato seeds I started earlier in the spring, these are what remain. The strongest of the bunch. Five opalka and two brandywine. They've been spending their nights out on the balcony for a while now and are ready for more growing space. Of these, I'll only grow half. The weather has been good and I could have planted these out last week.

I was planning to plant one of the brandywine tomato plants in this self-watering container I made several years ago from a 68 litre plastic tote but last year it started to leak so it was time for a replacement. I've used this old tote for growing watermelons, tomatoes and pumpkins. The plastic is very brittle after years of sunlight exposure.

The replacement that I built is a similar tote. I reused the inside part from the old container. For this container I used more plastic cable ties to secure the inner part to the outer container. When filled with potting soil, the walls of the tote tend to budge out so these extra ties should prevent some of that. I also cut the edge of the lid and secured it to the inside of the tote to use as a sort of tube for watering. And I installed a float switch so if and when I ever get around to wiring up a controller to refill the water reservoir in this container, it will know when the reservoir is full so it can shut off the pump.

So much more to do before I can plant though. I still need to clean out a few more big containers and I need to build some new ones for some melons I want to plant. And that means building a new trellis also.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Snow Tomorrow

Doesn't matter how good my intentions are: I always start my gardening late. I started tomato and pepper seeds at the start of April and I probably should have started them in the middle of March. I've been burned by starting too early so maybe that's why I hesitate. My tomatoes are up and doing well but the peppers are slow. Especially the Jimmy Nardello's. I seem to remember having problems with those last time I tried them.

The weather has been amazing these past few days. Over 20 C which is unusually warm for this time of year. But tonight we're expecting freezing rain and apparently up to 5 cms of snow tomorrow. Temps will be well below 0 C again for the next couple of nights.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Getting Ready for 2014

It seems like there's snow falling here every other day now. It's been a few years since I've seen this much snow.

I had to take a bit of a break from the balcony in 2013. With a couple of family vacations that summer I didn't feel I had the time to do much gardening on the balcony. I did manage to get a couple of tomato plants going and they did well until early August when I left them for a week without water. A few parsley plants I planted grew well despite the occasional drought. One thing I planted that grew really well were ground cherries. I had a single plant that sprawled out to dominate one end of the balcony, putting out lots of fruit for most of the summer.

This summer I need to fix up some containers. The large tote that I've been using as a self watering container for a few years now; that has been home to crops like pumpkin, watermelon and tomatoes; sprung a leak and no longer holds water. So it's time to replace it with a new one. Not necessarily something bigger but perhaps something a little more durable. Mind you, I got quite a bit of use out of that old plastic tote.

I've also got some ideas to automate the task of watering. I want to be able to take off for a week and not have to think about watering plants. I'm determined to put my engineering skills to use and solve this problem.