Tag Archives: Balcony

A New Addition to the Balcony Garden

11 Jan

Introducing …. the Yuckies!

James and I went to Bunnings to pick up a new shower head and while we were there we impulse bought a trio of yuccas (incidentally, we had always assumed it was pronounced “yoo-ka” but it’s actually pronounced “yuck-a”).

They were $36.99. The littlest yucca didn’t have an established root system, and I don’t know whether that is bad. They’re supposed to be quite hardy plants, so hopefully they won’t need much maintenance. Yuccas like a lot of sun, so they will hopefully enjoy our west-facing balcony!

Also here is my lemon tree (left) and my lime tree (right):

At one point all the leaves on the lemon tree turned yellow and fell off. But then they regrew themselves without me having to do anything. The guy at the nursery told me to not expect any lemons or limes for another 2-3 years. He also told me to fertilise regularly, but I totally have not been doing that. Cat neglected her lime tree though, and it still (eventually) produced limes.

I also cleared out some coriander that had bolted and dead, and also various clumps of soil and dead leaves that had collected around the base of the containers. Everything is looking a lot greener and less dead now. =)

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.

James and the Venus Fly Trap

14 Dec

I bought a baby venus fly trap thingy earlier this year when Cat and I went to Bunnings. It was on the balcony while I was potting some other stuff I bought, and a GIANT fly landed next to it. The fly was probably the size of the VFT’s head. Anyway, James looked on with anticipation but nothing happened and the fly flew off, so James nudged it with a trowel and told it that it had to do better.

He repotted it with some better soil, and was like “this is enough for you to survive, but if you want to lead a good life you’re going to have to catch some flies.”

Also the VFT died like, a week later. As far as I know, it never caught a single fly.

Roast Chicken on the Weber

6 Nov

Today we roasted our first chicken in the Weber. Very easy and tasty!

As instructed by the Weber cookbook I put a layer of foil under the roasting trivet to diffuse the heat from the grate, and cut some slits in the foil for fat to drain. I preheated the barbecue on high for 10 minutes, then dialed the heat down a couple of notches once I put the chicken in.

The chicken was prepared pretty simply – rubbed down with olive oil and then a generous sprinkling of flaked salt. It was 1.4kg and roasted for 1.5 hours.

James just looked at the photo and was like “that looks like someone throwing up”, and now I can’t unsee it. The chicken totally looks like a dude throwing up in the gutter.

Also he has warts on his back.

It’s like the time I took a photo of a bird butt hanging over the edge of a pole (I can’t remember why I took it – I think I was having lunch with Margs and Kim and the butt was hanging over Kim’s head, and we all thought that was funny that she might get pooped on). But when I later showed the bird butt photo to Cat, she was like “is that a rabbit standing on a chimney?”

Anyway, the barbecue did an admirable job. The chicken was fall-off-the-bone tender and the skin was crispy and salty. Looking at the scorched foil, I’m glad it was there to catch the juice/fat that dripped from the chicken. I’m sure it would have been a bitch to clean. I’ve been checking out the gunk that accumulates in the barbecue’s drip tray – it’s perversely satisfying, much like looking at those Biore nose strips or pressing on a bruise.

Also I am conscious that vomit, warts, bird poo, pore strips and bruises are less-than-appetizing images to associate with the roast chicken, which was lovely and deserves better than that, so moving on …

While the chicken rested I made a quick salad, and James and I each had about 1/4 of the chicken for lunch. I’m pretty sure you could roast 2 chickens side by side in the barbecue, with plenty of room for air to circulate. I just sent an email to Liz to ask for the recipe for a garlic and parsley marinade that she used on some barbecued quails. It was insanely tasty, and if the recipe is unfussy I think it would be a great barbecue staple.


20 Oct

I’m sitting here at my computer feeling quite sorry for myself. My upper back was feeling a bit sore after Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training on the weekend, but Saturday classes are more intense than normal – our warm-up was 120 burpees, crunches and push-ups (toes, not knees). So yeah, hard class. I was feeling tired-but-good, and still managed to go to the gym on Sunday and do BJJ training on Monday, but on Monday night I arched my back in my sleep and twang!

So instead of training on Tuesday morning like I’d planned, I headed to the physio where I was told that the joints between my ribs and spine had locked up. He worked the area a bit and I’ve been popping ibuprofen and applying heat packs as necessary. Fortunately this morning I woke up feeling a bit better, and I have another physio session on Thursday, after which I should be close to 100%.

I can’t train for most of this week (or do any heavy housework – I tried to open a pickle jar yesterday and owowowow!) so I’ve mainly been reading and browsing the net. This has given me ample opportunity to trawl online for stuff that I want to buy.

Kitchenaid apple green Artisan mixer: $632 + $11 shipping. I’ve also wanted one of these for awhile, but I’ve never found it particularly difficult to mix by hand or use the electric beater. Plus there is the lack of benchspace in my kitchen. But recently I’ve been coming across a lot of recipes where the Kitchenaid would come in quite handy. So maybe. One day. In the future. We’ll see.

image from Google image search, I can't remember which website - everyone was using this pic!

Herman Miller Aeron chair: $1300. I spend so much time at my computer that I should probably invest in an ergonomic chair. This one has actually been on the list for awhile, but it keeps getting superseded by fun stuff like cameras and barbecues.

image from Herman Miller

Bourke Street Bakery cookbook: $34. I promised James I wouldn’t order this until I’d tried a couple of the Bourke Street Bakery recipes that are floating around online. I’m going to go with the pork and fennel sausage rolls and also the raspberry chocolate muffins.

Momofuku cookbook: $30. Once again, I’m going to give some recipes a test run before purchasing. I’ve had the ginger scallion noodles recipe bookmarked for months. Cat made me the crack pie recipe (is that in the cookbook?) which was delicious, but I’ve seen the recipe and I know how much butter and sugar went into it!

Ilemi leather clutch purse: $450USD + $25USD shipping (from memory) I love the sumptuous, butter-soft bags from Etsy seller Ilemi but this is in the “after the mortgage is paid off” pile.

image from Ilemi

I also want to try balcony gardening again. I have some herbs and vegetables growing from seed (hopefully! At the moment it’s all still dirt), but I read online that unless you want the seed-growing experience, it’s much better to buy seedlings. I have some parsley, mint, chives, rosemary and strawberries that survived my benign neglect over winter, and maybe I’ll hit Bunnings at some point. I also need a new watering can because my old plastic one got weak from the sun, and then its watering bit (spout?) got smashed by hail. I’ve decided the next watering can will be sturdy and made of metal.

Weber Baby Q

18 Oct

Even though James and I aren’t really big barbecuers, I’ve wanted a Weber Q for ages. But recently I’ve noticed myself using the cast iron griddle a lot more, and with Summer approaching, I want a cooking method that doesn’t involve heating up the whole apartment with the stove, oven or slow cooker. So after our shopping expedition to Mediterranean Wholesalers we jumped back in the car and headed to Barbecues Plus in Ascot Vale.

Originally I was the only one gung-ho about the barbecue. James only bought it because “I don’t like saying no to you”. Aww! Though now that I’m aware I have this superpower, I must be more careful about the things I cavalierly ask for (like a horse). But I think once I start to cook burgers and steak on it, James will be won over. I have a backlog of barbecue recipes that I bookmarked ages ago, because I knew this day would come!

That’s the Weber on my dirt-clumped balcony. For its maiden voyage James grilled some chicken breasts, which I then used to make a chicken, mango and chilli salad with palm sugar dressing.

I’d originally wanted the Q220, which is the medium size, but the Q120 was a lot bigger than I had thought, and 99% of the time it will just be me and James. The actual barbecue was cheap ($349) but the side tables, tools, gas bottle, cart, roasting trivet and hot plate pretty much doubled the price. But I have to say that I’m pretty impressed so far; everything was easy to assemble, and the chicken cooked perfectly – 4 minutes each side with the lid down. I’m looking forward to experimenting more – the Vic Market has started getting asparagus, and I’m having visions of a medium rare Angus rib-eye with grilled asparagus and mushrooms. But that will have to come after the burgers I’m planning for this Wednesday!