16 September 2009

weird fruit

As the temperatures and the amount of daylight available on the balcony allotment drop, the tomatoes continue to bloom.

green and red tomatoes on the vineAccompanying the already bountiful supply of gently ripening tomatoes, these little buds can be seen peeping through the thickening foliage.

tomato plant in flowerI'm lead to believe by the gardening books I've acquired and various online resources that this is not normal, in fact it could be considered down right weird for tomatoes at this time of year.

If they carry on like this I'll be digging fresh fruit out of the Buckinghamshire snow come December.

Tomato ice lolly anyone?

14 September 2009

Spider Sense

Since starting the balcony allotment back in July, I have enviably not had a problem with pests. Which given the wide variety of grubs, mites and bugs that are out to eat any and all delicious foodstuffs the gardener may choose to grow, is quite surprising.

spider on it's web on the balconyOr at least it was until about 3 weeks ago, when we started to get the odd 8 legged squatter in the living room.

Several of my work colleagues, friends and relatives have expressed the view that spiders should be killed at every given opportunity, but I take the attitude that if they're not doing any harm to me then I shall happily return the favour.

This has lead to a catch and release scheme, under which Mrs. M shouts at me, I catch the spider in a glass/envelope trap and deposit it outside. I have since released about 50 spiders, either that or it's the same ones coming back again and again for the spider version of Alton Towers.

This I'm more than happy to put up with in return for the natural, chemical free pest control which my arachnid friends offer.

Anyway, must shoot. The blue and red Lycra beckons!

13 September 2009

I used to have a herb garden...

...but now I have mint garden. My boss said with a chortle, several months and sacks of compost ago. It would appear that mint just takes over.

Unless it lives in the tiny little plastic tubs that it came from the supermarket in. If you keep it in these it shrivels up, then gets all rooty and then produces tiny little leaves which then shrivel up, get even more rooty...

Thoroughly miffed with this and being berated by Mrs. M who is partial to a cup of mint tea; I cajoled the rooty bundles out of their pots and planted them in the aforementioned compost (organic of course) and then completely ignored them.
mint plants in bright yellow planterA couple of weeks on and a gentle breeze through the open balcony door brought a lovely minty scent demanding attention.

The mint has taken over. Which is wonderful in a pot on a balcony, but seeing how deep the roots have set (the planter is 60cm deep and they go right to the bottom), probably not so great in a garden or allotment.

I used to have some rooty bundles...now I have a mint garden.

6 September 2009

hot flowers

It would appear that the Romital Hot Chilli pepper plants are desperate to hand over their bounty despite the cooling autumnal weather and sideways drizzle that we have had in the last few days.

This week on the elevated agriculture balcony we have achieved...drum roll please...flowers!
chilli pepper plants in flowerAs of this morning there are 3 little white flowers on the larger of the 2 chilli plants and lots of little green lumpy bits which appear to be where the flowers come from (pods? flower womb? technical I know).

Following guides from various online resources, I have used a little paintbrush to "pollinate" the flowers, gently brushing the pollen from one flower to the next (feel free to call me Bee Man).

The next step is apparently to keep them well fed, watered and drained.

Fingers crossed for a bumper crop of chillis, otherwise Mrs. M says I have to take the giant bee outfit back to the shops, Aye Carumba!

2 September 2009

The benefits of locally grown produce

It's the Tuesday after the August Bank Holiday, of course we've run out of lettuce and tomatoes. Rats.

Hang on, whats that on the balcony? Two varieties of lettuce and some nice ripe Plum Tomatoes?

Just picking some fresh veg/fruit from the balcony may seem obvious to you dear reader, but until now, nothing had been ready to eat. As a result I was all tied up in the growing rather than the eating.

crops from the balcony in ploughmans sandwichesBoy was I missing out!

Tomatoes that were firm and hadn't been in the deep freeze, lettuce that isn't bruised and battered. Sandwich bliss.

Convenience foods that anyone with a little space/dirt/water should be able to master. And not a Big Mac in sight.

Homebaked bread could well be the next challenge, making my own cheese on the other hand is open to questions. Such as, should I keep dairy cows on the balcony...