Thursday, May 31, 2012

it's overdue. (and this time it's not from the library)

it's officially overdue: an update on my little balcony garden. i've been a tiny bit encouraged (you'll see why just a tiny bit in a minute) this year. Last year I killed everything I tried growing. So far, all of my plants are still alive (that's always a good sign, right?) The only things I've been harvesting so far are some chives (I cut these alllll the time) and occasionally some basil, but since it's still so sparse I don't like to take too much. Oh and also I picked some lettuce once. (like in the pict. below)

this is my first pickings of my 4 lettuce plants. I didn't want to pick to much the first time (I wasn't even sure I was taking the leaves off properly) so these are the biggest leaves from 2 of the plants. The lettuce was very buttery and mild tasting-they didn't have that "dirt" taste you sometimes find on lettuce from the store.

 these are my lettuce plants today. they've grown a lot since I first got them and really filled out that planter. unfortunately they have been attacked by caspids. they're tiny green bugs and they're all over many of the leaves. I've been keeping it somewhat under control by spraying them with a mixture of softsoap and water, but they're not gone yet. (and truth be told I haven't sprayed them in about a week since the nozzle on my spray bottle has been clogged)  

here are my jalepeno plants. they have also grown so much since I first got them. they're really liking this sunny weather we finally have. after almost 2 weeks of overcasty-ness and rain, you can almost see them grow overnight. i'm not sure how many peppers will come from each plant, but we probably won't need a bucketful ;) 

this is my english lavender plant. i think it's probably my favorite. if you look closely you can see it's starting to show some purple on the top. so far, this is my only plant that has been bug free. it's my one consolation i shouldn't just give up on all my plants right now. I actually bought this plan at wal-mart and am very surprised with how well it's been doing. it was just a little scraggler when I got it a month or two ago.

I've figured out that the way for all my plants to get the most sunlight out of each day is to line them up in a row towards the front of the balcony. Unfortunately, it's impossible to take a picture of all my plants when they're like this. Here's the view from one side of the balcony. At the top of the picture is my lavender, followed by chives (hidden by the big basil pot), basil, mint, rosemary, and lettuce.

as you can see, my mint is also growing. unfortunately it had a bad case of 'the attack of the aphids' earlier this month and is slowly, but surely recovering.
For anyone interested, the mixture of soft soap + water in a spray bottle worked like magic on the aphids. like they were gone overnight! 

This picture is from the other side of the balcony and here you can see how my little basil seedlings are sprouting up next to the big basil. I'm guessing the seedlings won't grow into anything harvestable until July or August. 

Here's my little working corner of the balcony. My newly purchased watering can from Ikea (for $1!), some extra soil, and some pots. (oh and p.s. they strand of lights makes it so pretty out there at night!)

I do have something to say about the pots you plant in. I've noticed a recent trend in pots lately- especially the really pretty ones at Marshalls/TJ Maxx/ Home Depot. They have no drainage hole on the bottom! What in the world were they thinking when the made a pot with no drainage hole? Soil will easily become too saturated and drown most plants. I've tried a variety of different materials, glazed terra cotta, tin/aluminum, earthenware, plastic, etc. and I'd have to say from what  I've read and experimented with, the best way to go is always the plain, unglazed terra cotta. The terra cotta material allows the plants to breathe through the root section and also absorbs extra moisture that  you don't want lingering at the bottom of your pots. They may not be the prettiest, but they are the best. (and usually not too expensive!)

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