Monday, May 11, 2009

My Little Apartment Balcony Garden in progress

Now that looks a bit more like home :)

Mother's Day we went picked up as many plants as we could cram into my corolla and my husband's small pickup truck. Don't ask me how I squeezed a potted lime tree into the passenger seat, but I did, just barely, and my right arm has scratches to prove just how tight of a squeeze it was. I still need to go get my mango tree, blueberry bush, blackberry vines and some other odds n ends pots o plants.

May has suddenly burst into summer, hot and bright and sunny. I was worried with the heat that my sister in law had been too busy to take care of the plants I had left behind, but she did a great job watering them. The SWC tomatoes look fantastic, and the 'Big Mama' & 'Carmello' tomatos in the big round planter were full of blossoms and even some little green tomatos! Amazing what 2 weeks of hot sunny weather can do to jumpstart those veggies into growing.

Unfortunatly the big round planter was just too big for our balcony and would cast too much shade, so I left it in my parent's backyard ( and begged them to care for it for me) and setup my SWC here. I'm playing around with placement trying to give the SWC the hottest/brightest part of the ledge without casting so much shade on everything else. I noticed the container basil I planted in between them in the SWC was being totally shaded by the tomato folliage ( see them tucked by the watering tube?) , so after I took this photo I carefully transplanted them into their own windowbox.

One huge concern I have is even tho its a south facing exposure it really only gets the brightest direct sun from around 10 am to about 4 pm, with the edges going into shade sooner. The area that actually gets hit by direct sun is rather small, as you can see in these photos. Great for people who want to just sit out on their balcony, not so great for crazy people like me trying to grow plants. I hope to get around this issue but buying a few railing brackets so I can hang the windbowboxes on those horizontal rails, and then I can keep the swiss chard, lettuce, dill, chives and mint in the partial shade those boxes cast. I wish I had one of the 3 bedroom units directly above the garages at the end of the building, those have a large rooftop access patio about 25 x 25 feet with no overhead shade. I don't know how much those are a month but I may ask out of curiosity, and if we do end up staying here longer then a few months and financially secure we may be able to upgrade to one of those units, I can dream right!

Everything seems to survive my absence OK, but the dang earwigs went to town and just decimated the pak choi and really did a number on the chard and lettuce. Some of the lettuce was starting to bolt from the heat along with some of the bright lights chard, so I just ripped those out and dumped the soil from those planters. I can replant some of those here. The earwigs are hiding in the little gaps between the potting soil and the sides of the containers, along with hiding under the folliage itself. I need to devise some sort of trap to catch them to they are just going to keep destroying my plants. Cabbage loopers are all the remaining lettuce too, boo.

So thats where I am right now. I did win a couple of container friendly tomato plants at sat. master gardening class, a 'Sprite' and a 'Bush Champion', which I may plant into the other SWC I havent use yet, or I may just put each in a 5 gallon bucket ( taller and thinner taking less space) and put a bush zuccini in the SWC- I so miss fresh summer squash!


Sinfonian said...

Sorry to hear your patio isn't the gardenette of eden after all. Maybe you can hang some planters off the railing, like those long window box ones.

Try lettuce in the shade. Maybe it will get enough sun to grow and not bolt on you. Just a thought.

Sorry about those bugs. Don't know what to say about that. Grrr.

Glad you're still active with your classes. All my gardening buddies becoming master gardeners is great! Bravo!

Good luck and work hard to get a pea patch plot somewhere now that you have no space...

ChristyACB said...

Glad to hear you are getting some of your garden going and it looks pretty good too!

As to shade, remember that the sun angle is still not all the way up yet so if you are getting 10 to 4 now, you are likely to get higher angle and more time as the season goes on. Just keep watching.

2 of my raised beds have to play that game. They get only about 2 hours of direct in mid March, but it gets more every day as the sun shifts and goes higher, so it is now perfect for summer crops.

Where there is a will, there's usually some incredibly complex and time consuming way. Right?