Wednesday, September 8, 2021

New Pigeon Netting

Our old netting was removed during some building renos. It had been up for a long time and was ready to be replaced. The install on the new netting seems to be better. It's a nylon mesh fastened to a cable the runs around the outside of the balcony opening. We probably could have went without it. I haven't see pigeons hanging out on the building for quite some time now. Might have something to do with the occasional hawk I see in the sky around the building. I kind of miss the view without the net. But I remember what a pain it was to clean up pigeon mess on the balcony so the net stays.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Sprawling Tomatoes and Cucumbers

This is what happens when you're lazy and don't plan ahead. I kept meaning to put up some kind of trellis to hold these tomato and cucumber plants but I never got around to it. I got a few tomatoes and cukes from them. Nothing close to the harvest I could have had, had the plants been propped up off the floor and into the sunlight. 

With the pigeon netting guy coming this week I figure it's time to get rid of these plants and clean things up a bit. So this is the end of tomato and cucumber plants on the balcony this summer. 

Despite my poor effort I did manage to get a few tiny jars of bread and butter pickles made. These are wide mouth 250 ml (half pint) jars. Their size lets me process them in a hot water bath in just about any pot. Sadly I don't think I put enough sugar in these :(

Friday, August 20, 2021

I think the beans are done

My poor bean plants are being overtaken by spider mites. Nothing I can do about it now. I've picked a couple of bowls of beans off the plants over the past two weeks and I think there might be a handful more but that's it. The leaves are yellowing and falling off the plants. They look tired and defeated. But that's ok. I didn't put much effort into them this year. One less thing to water every day.

These were blue lake pole beans. I found the pods didn't grow as long as the Kentucky wonder pole beans I've grown in the past. They tasted fine though. I left some out on the plants a little too long and those had a less desirable flavor to them. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Beet Pickles

We ate a couple and canned the rest. I just wish I had some larger jars on hand. These little half-pint jars are not big enough for beet pickles.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Beet Harvest

It was time to pull these beets and I was happy with what I got. After trimming and rinsing I was left with 2.5 lbs which I'm ok with considering the container I grew them in has less than three sqft of growing space. Only a couple didn't result in a root worthy of calling a beet. 

I'm not sure exactly what I'll do with them. I was thinking about pickling them and I should be able to get a few half-pint jars from the bunch. But I think instead we'll cook and eat half... less than half, and pickle the rest. And I'll reseed the container to grow more. I'll have to add more compost or just mix in lots of fresh fertilizer. With luck I can have another little harvest like this in October.

My peppers are doing well and that will probably be the next little harvest. But my beans are trying real hard too. I'm finally seeing lots of flowers and a few little beans. I feel sorry that I couldn't give these plants a taller structure to grow on. These blue lake pole beans put up some really tough vines. Most of the cords I tied up to support them untied in the wind a long time ago. No matter. These things aren't going anywhere.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Neglected but not entirely forgotten

It's been a strange summer on the balcony. You would think with everything that's not going on in the world right now I'd have lots of time to play on the balcony. But that's not the case for some reason. I just haven't been all that interested this year. For a while we were hopeful we'd be able to get in a vacation before September so maybe I wasn't fully committed to gardening. But I did manage to get some beets growing and I've got peppers that are doing ok.

When I cleared everything off the balcony last year I had to get rid of all the support structures I had constructed for holding up various plants. It was probably for the best because it was getting really junky out there. But I really missing have those structures. Look at this pathetic black cherry tomato plant. It's an indeterminate variety. It's sprawling pretty bad and I've haven't been pruning it. There are tomatoes but not as many as there should be. I'm just too lazy to got out and buy some sticks. Or anything really. I was looking for some poles last week but they were all sold out.

I'm growing pole beans this year too and they are supported but not flowering for some reason. Timing and weather I guess. I also started cucumbers back in early June and they got off to a terrible start. And I don't have anything to support them. Probably won't bother. Even so, I found this cute little cucumber on one of the vines that was just trailing down onto the floor of the balcony. Some hope I guess. Maybe it's not too late to trellis those vines.

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Almost time to plant

Getting closer to that time. Nighttime temperatures around 4C but we did have a frost advisory last week. The weather hasn't been that great actually. Cloudy. Rainy. Windy. But at least it's been consistent. Still a little early for my leggy seedlings. They need a bit more time. 

Whenever I plant too early I get caught by a frosty night or a windy day. I can never seem to get a head start. So these tomatoes and peppers will wait another week... week and a half. Actually, I might pot the tomatoes into larger containers first then wait two more weeks. I should do that now. I also have cucumbers growing in the window sill. Those I will definitely keep inside until the end of May. 

Just realized that I forgot to start my basil. Getting hard to find window space. Too many succulents. 

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Germination Test

I started a little germination test over the weekend. I've got a small hoard of seeds from years past and I needed to know which, if any, were still usable. When I get new seed I always forget to write the date on the packet. Sometimes it's already there but not always. Most of the seed here was 4+ years old. And most appear to still be ok. So maybe I won't bother buying any new seed this year. I should probably just use what I have while I still can.

The only seeds that aren't germinating (yet) are 12 year old bell peppers and some watermelon seeds which must be around 10 years old. No surprises there. There are other melon seeds here that are still fine. Some greens, radish, onion and beets. And green tomatoes. I really wish I had more space on the balcony.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

A Fresh Start

I had to take a break from the balcony in 2020. For much of that summer we had a maintenance crew dangling from cables off the roof, replacing deteriorating bricks and patching/painting stucco. They were on and off my balcony a dozen times that summer. Mostly chipping out cracks in the concrete and refilling it. So for a big chunk of the year I couldn't have anything on the balcony. But I hadn't really planned on doing anything that summer because we had two family vacations planned that would have kept us away for most of the summer. Those travel plans had to be cancelled for obvious reasons so I was stuck at home all summer without a balcony garden. And I couldn't start one even if I wanted to.

Just a few containers left.

There were some good things to come out of the building renovations. I got the balcony cleared off and it was power washed and painted. Looks new again. It forced me to deal with a growing pile of junk that needed to go. And I had to give up the pigeon netting which wasn't all that bad because it was starting to come down on its own anyways. 

So once again I have to deal with that annual decision: what should I grow? I have some seed from previous years that may still be good. Might have to try something new though. I'm not sure. Depending on how things go with the virus and vaccine roll-out we might try for a vacation again this summer in which case I would have to abandon the garden at its peak. But I'm willing to risk it. I don't want to be stuck at home for another summer without a garden on the balcony.