Balcony Garden

29 Apr

Around the time we got our new dishwasher I decided to tidy up the balcony a bit. Things were looking a bit neglected because I wasn’t really in a gardening mood after my disastrous tomato crop last summer (a grand total of 2 tomatoes! 1 of which I forgot about so it just rotted on the vine). Plus I was inspired by Cat’s talk of all the plants she’s getting for her new garden.

So James and I headed to Poyntons in Essendon and picked up a Meyer lemon tree and also a Tahitian lime tree. Poyntons is the most drop-dead gorgeous nursery I have ever seen. It’s like plant heaven – everything is leafy and green, with paths winding around everywhere. I bow to nobody in my love of Bunnings, but seriously there is no comparison.

We were originally going to get dwarf trees, but the Poyntons guy said that as long as we prune these and have them in large pots they’ll be fine. They were cheaper than the dwarf trees, and this gives us the flexibility to plant them in the ground and get full grown trees if we ever want to.

The tree on the left in the wooden pot is the lemon and the one in the black is the lime. I pruned them back fairly aggressively and gave them some liquid fertilizer. The guy said to fertilize them once every couple of weeks so I set my google calendar to remind me. I’m determined not to fuck this one up! I was also told to pinch off any flowers or fruit in the first year, then pinch off any fruit the second year, and let them fruit the third year. It’s a bit of a long-term thing!

The Newcomers

A couple of days later James and I needed to go to Bunnings to pick up some stuff, so I bought some herbs to replace the ones that had bolted (or died). In this container I have some thyme and some parsley (which I only ever need a tablespoon at a time, so it seems like a waste to buy it at the market).

The thyme is looking a bit sparse because I harvested some a few nights ago when I made roast chicken.

The Old Timers

The birds eye chillis and rosemary have been in my garden for a year now and seem to be doing really well. They’ve survived my benign neglect at least.

The Dark Horses

A couple of years ago I bought a strawberry plant which did really well. It kept sending out shoots so I kept planting those, and the shoots kept turning into other strawberry plants. Last summer most of them died except this one (maybe because the pot is deeper and it had more nutrients to draw on?).

I planted the spinach ages ago and forgot about it – actually I think I may have planted some lettuce in the meantime. I uprooted the lettuce (which had bolted) and just left the soil there while I decided what to plant in that space. Imagine my surprise when the spinach started growing.

This is what the garden used to look like. But I got rid of a lot of my old pots because I think it’s easier (and looks better) when there are a few large pots to take care of. You can see all the little strawberries hanging everywhere. =) Also my weird mint in the foreground (why are you only growing around the edges of the pot??), chives, jalapeno chillies in the top right, thyme next to it, and lettuce in the wooden container top left.

It was such a hassle getting rid of the old crappy dirt and broken pots – I think I threw out 7 or 8 garbage bags of it all. But it was worth it because everything looks so much better now. The only thing left is to sow some coriander seeds on Monday when it’s time to fertilize.

I have high hopes for this garden since the lemon and lime are the only plants that need specialized attention. I’ve been dipping my finger into the soil to make sure it’s not getting too dry, but I don’t want to overwater since supposedly that’s the most common cause of death for container citrus. If everything goes well I want to add lemongrass, kaffir lime and oregano to the line-up later this year.

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