Mon 05 July 2010

~3 min read

Filed under gardening

Tags garden plants seeds

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[gallery link=”file”] I’ve tried out a few new things this year with my balcony / gardening to make it easier to take care of the plants.

I installed the Gardena Micro-drip System. It did cost a bunch, and one may find cheaper alternatives (I couldn’t here, so I went for this), but so far so very worth it. I have most of my containers set up, only need to do the last few pots, which means I only have to hook up the garden-hose and turn it on and the plants get watered. I took care in placing the drippers and sprinklers in the right place to not waste water — or at least, as little as possible. I water some parts manually, because that works out better.

It creates a better controlled watering — and less waste of water — than me hauling the big watering can around.

For even better watering I added clay pellets to the bottom of most of my containers. This works because the holes in the containers sit above these pellets. The pellets need some time to suck up the water, so this way they sit in a layer of water for an hour or so until they absorbed it all. After that, they slowly release the water, keeping the plants happy.

The heat wave we had this week didn’t kill off many of my plants, which I consider proof that the system works!

For sowing I bought some of those peat pellets I’ve read about. I though about using them last year, however, considering their price I didn’t buy them back then. This year I bought some to try and I really like them. No messing about with trying to get the poor little seedling out of the tray. The gauze around them degrades over time, although I sometimes remove it if the roots haven’t grown through them yet. I’ve only planted a few seedlings out using these pellets and they all do well, which may or may not mean anything.

The second photo some of my mini lettuces, tiny seedlings. I have seeds for leaf lettuce and for heads of lettuce. The leafy ones I sow in a container (last picture) and for the second batch of heads I decided to try the pellets. More control over the result, I think.

I also like how I can place these little pellets in any tray I have. For the set of lettuces I only needed a small one so I recycled a little plastic tray from the store (I think it contained mushrooms or veggies). The mini greenhouse seemed a bit overkill (hello heat wave) for this purpose.

So far, I feel very pleased with the gardening results. I’ve harvested plenty of lettuce / leafy greens so far and have much more of that on the way. The tomatoes have started to grow by the dozen and I see bean-pods everywhere. I’ve had very tasty strawberries and all my herbs do well. Even the oregano that got a big blow because of the heat has started to grow again (yay!). I also have a few plants for my mother, they also look healthy. I did lose a bunch of tomato seedlings, which makes me a little sad, but seeing how I didn’t have that much place left for them and they didn’t look that strong and healthy, I can live with them becoming compost.



Sat 22 August 2009

~1 min read

Filed under photo

Tags beans dried seeds

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Beans I grew myself.

They hid in the back and dried themselves. I’ll save them for next year and sow them.



Mon 20 July 2009

~2 min read

Filed under gardening

Tags balcony bean plants beans easy grow plants seeds

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I’ve grown a few bean-plants on my balcony (more than a few actually) and have looked for the best way to get them to germinate. In the beginning I tried sticking them in the ground and just keeping the ground wet, and though that did work for some beans, it also failed plenty of times.

Lots of times my beans got eaten by the larvae of the bean-fly (oh how I hate them!). I went looking for a better way and found something that works very well. This will probably work for other seeds too, and will give you a good idea about the germination rate of your seeds (if you have old seeds you sometimes want to check). I’ve had no problem transplanting the resulting sprouts, just keep in mind you will have to transplant them at some point. Not all sprouts like that.

Kids will usually love this too. Use beans though, they sprout fast :)

You will need:
- a ziploc bag (or another type of firm plastic bag)
- some toiletpaper or paper towels
- something to spray water with
- beans! Put beans on paper. Take the toiletpaper and put down several layers. Place a few beans on the paper. Spray thoroughly with water until the paper becomes moist with water, but does not drip.

beans, germination in a ziploc bag. Fold the paper, with the beans in the fold. It helps to not line up the edges so you can check later on. Keep the bag open (very important) and place it in a dark warm place. Most people prefer the top of their fridge, I used a kitchen-cabinet with pipes behind it.

Nothing happens the first day.... After the first day you may or may not see little roots coming from the bean. Check daily if you prefer, or every other day, to make sure the paper stays moist and to check for beans that rot (it sometimes happens, especially with older beans, they smell bad so it’s best to remove the asap).

5 days later... A few days later, however, the beans have sprouted!

Carefully take them out. Take it out of the bag, carefully. Make sure not to break any roots.

Not all will have sprouted.. You’ll see here that not all beans sprouted. Two of them rotted (I felt very sad), but the others shot up! The ones on the right I deemed plant-worthy and planted them outside. I took the risk with the two on the left as well, but left the other two (barely rooting) in the bag for a while.
If the roots have gone through the paper, don’t worry! Just rip the paper and plant it with the bean-sprout. It’ll dissolve quickly enough.

Some beans take longer than others, perfectly normal. However, if after a week to ten days you see no action at all, and the beans have gone mushy, they failed. They’ll smell bad too.



Sun 24 May 2009

~1 min read

Filed under gardening

Tags balcony beans boxes green plants seeds tomato

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[gallery columns=”5”]Today I installed the last bits of my balcony. I got some more small green pots and planted rosemary, a bay tree (more like a bush), two new types of oregano (makes three in total) and I planted the beans and peas. Also planted the courgettes, and put the rest in pots to give away.
My left lower box hasn’t got anything in it yet, and I plan to sow some lettuce, spring onion and beetroot in it. The lower right one has lamb’s lettuce and scallions.
I have some basil seeds left (and mint, coriander, parsley and then some) which I plan to sow by the tomatoes, I hear that works out well.
This morning I harvested my first mini-cucumber and ate it on a cheese-sandwich, tasted excellent. Looking forward to more of that :D



Thu 14 May 2009

~1 min read

Filed under gardening

Tags balcony grow plants seeds

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My seedlings seem to behave well. The courgette especially has started to grow superfast. It scares me a little…




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