24 August 2009

trés bon Rodney, trés bon

I tried to restrain myself, but it just wasn't happening (not from the pun blog titles you may note), water was still making its way over the edge of the balcony and pitter pattering on the galvanised sheet below.

It was time to invest in some drip trays.the elevated agriculture balcony garden

The eagle eyed among you may notice that I appear to have one older and larger tray along with the shiny new ones - this is all that's left of our Christmas tree (It's not dead, just relocated. Honest.) and is now home to the largest of the planters, which is filled to bursting point with lovely lettuce and possibly a little spinach.

The other 3 trays contain the tallest planter (filled with mint. Mojitos Ahoy!), the middle sized planter (some very lazy peppers) and the trimmed back, fruit heavy tomato plant.

The Chives and Greek Basil are also lurking in the gaps and give a rather nice filled out look to the otherwise boring trays.

The major benefit of all this added plastic, other than not having an angry neighbour, is that I have been able to give the lettuce and tomatoes a bit of a soak, which from the growth that's now being seen is a good thing.

It's easy to forget that plants in pots/planters/grow-bags can dry out very quickly, so thirsty varieties do actually need "over watering" when not planted in the ground.

Water, water, exactly where it should be.

18 August 2009

Sea Scouts Support Tomato Plant

Not in the litteral sense, but my 5 years in the Sea Scouts is now benefiting my ever growing tomato plant.

Before you think I've gone mad and am blowing a Bosun's Call at it whilst wearing a Pork Pie hat and neck scarf, perhaps I should explain.

tomatoes on a homemade trellisThe tomato plant which was until this evening drooping under the weight of 30 plum tomatoes now has its very own homemade Bamboo cane and Jute twine trellis which I lashed together using one of the two useful pieces of information that my mind has retained from my days in the Scouts, How to tie knots (the other being that teenage boys left alone with rope can be absolute bastards).

I also took this opportunity to cut back the bushy plant and pinch out some wannabe shoots, which should give all that lovely fruit a chance to ripen.

Now where did I park my Battleship?

11 August 2009

Peeping Tom

Plum tomato peeing through the greeneryDon't worry, I haven't been spying on the neighbours, the Tom in question is of the Plum variety and after weeks of trying has finally turned a bright pillar box red.

Cutting back, pinching new leafs out that try to form between stems and keeping the compost moist seemed to help, but I think the most credit is due to the Sun which decided to make a welcome return over the weekend, topping the thermometer out at 40* ( lovely heat trapped in the brickwork and reflected off the metal flooring).

If the weather stays bright and breezy we can expect a bumper crop of 30 or so more; if not then at least there's that delicious tomato vine smell drifting in through the balcony doors.

Tomato plants, the Chanel no.5 of the Agricultural world.

10 August 2009

Water, Water, Everywhere...

Ahh, nothing quite like a nice relaxing Sunday walk in the Cotswolds, followed by a confrontation with our downstairs neighbour.

"we need to resolve this situation. you get me?"

Well, not quite. I wasn't aware there was a situation. And what did he want me to get him?

"when you water your plants my balcony get wet. I want to sit out and chill wit me girl."

Now I "got" him.

No problem, nothing to resolve, I'll water more carefully.

I get the feeling he wanted some sort of argument, but whats the point? I knew I was in the wrong, Mrs. M had been telling me so for weeks after all.

It would seem that watering plants is a topic that crops up lots in gardening books, blogs and websites. How much? How often? Fizzy or Still?

The general consensus seems to be that most plants could do without the buckets of water that novice gardens such as myself feel the need to chuck all over them and that careful and considerate watering is the way forward.

Wet Balcony from aboveCommon sense really. If lots of water is running out the bottom of the planter/trough/pot/growbag, then it's not benefiting the plant and probably not doing great things for neighbourly relations (check out those water marks).

Over the coming days I plan to experiment with watering less, checking how moist the compost is under the top layer before I even fill the watering can and using a plant spray to mist the leaves and top of the mulch. Maybe using the odd drip tray just in case.

Good job I didn't invest in that irrigation system eh?

8 August 2009

Lettuce Out

lettuce, spinach, chilli and sweet peppers in yellow planter bagsAfter 3 weeks in the glasshouse, the lettuce and spinach was rapidly outgrowing its seed trays.

Of the 10 Dynamite and 10 Delight lettuce seeds planted I ended up with 13 little plants after pricking out which all seem to be pretty healthy if a little spindly.

The spinach on the other hand wasn't quite as keen to sprout with only 2 of the 10 planted seeds pushing their way through the mulchy, moist organic compost mix.

All the plants were transfered over to the 2 remaining yellow planter bags, where they seem to be thickening out and settling in nicely.

With a bit of sun on the balcony plot, Mrs. M and I could be enjoying home grown lettuce in our sandwiches by the middle of the month. Yum.

Caned & Stable

chilli and sweet peppers caned & stable in yellow planter bagsHaving survived in their pots for a week without blowing over in the wind/drizzle, I thought it was time to transfer the peppers into my freshly acquired planter bags (1" gravel topped up with lots of the organic peat free compost).

No sooner had I done this than we had a few proper windy/rainy nights and the peppers were left a little bruised, battered and bent out of shape.

A few lengths of bamboo cane and jute twine sees all 4 plants now caned and stable in the upright position.