geekery, drawing and then some
I've planted all my seedlings outside because the weather permitted it. We've had a lot of sun, very summer-y, for the past month or so. I did however appreciate the amount of rain we got this week and my plants did too.
Every year I seem to end up with a lot more plants than I can place, especially because I also get some plants from TG's father who has an allotment and usually plenty of extra seedlings. I have about eight extra tomato-plants, on top of the ten or so I had already grown myself. I also got some lettuce and greens which comes in handy because my saladboxes seem to have stunted (probably the heat, the saladboxes seem to thrive in typical Dutch weather -- rain and a bit of sun). I'll resow them and see if I get some tasty greens out of them.
I also received some melon-plants. I wonder how to deal with those...
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.
I received my new camera a few days ago and have enjoyed using it. It has some big advantages over my older camera (insane zoom, wide-angle, remembers settings between off-on, easier controls) and the only disadvantage so far seems the weight (something I can manage). On the left you can see a photo of my balcony from today, taken with the new camera. Below it, the one from last week, taken with the old.
The lettuces (in the middle in round grey pot) have done particularly well. More salads for me!
I have never sprouted lentils before, so I don't know if these sprouted faster. I do like how easy I can rinse the seeds, simply hold the bag under the tap and go -- or dip it in a bowl with water. I added the sunflower, broccoli and pea seeds a little later, I hope they'll sprout tomorrow.
The other bag has some quinoa from my pack. Normally I don't expect something like that to sprout, they do however sprout. I like it!
For some time now I wanted to try sprouting seeds in a (hemp) bag and when I found some on Ebay, I ordered them. I soaked some seeds (quinoa, lentils, sunflower and broccoli) and put them in the bags today. They should sprout soon.
I like the idea of sprouting bags. You soak the seeds for a few hours or overnight, and you soak the bag. Then you place the seeds into the wet bag and let that drip for a bit. After a few minutes or so it'll stop and you can hang it wherever you like. I kept mine over the sink, to make sure it doesn't drip all over the floor. Will make more photos in a few days. :)
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! 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.
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.
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).
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.
Yesterday I harvested 241 grams of cherry-tomatoes. This brings the total for this one plant to roughly 450 grams. And this is just one plant. Very pleased with how much it produces. I left a few orange ones on yesterday, but from the looks of it, I could probably harvest those today too.
These cherry-tomatoes taste so much better than the kind I buy in the store.
I will document this tree as much as possible, who knows what it'll do!
The plants in general grow really well. I can harvest roughly one salad per week, very nice :)
My balcony garden seems to do well. The weather goes from sunny to cloudy to sunny again, and I have watered when needed. My seedlings seem to grow very well, I blame this on the southern location of my balcony.
My drawing-rhythm seems disturbed so I use my garden as my creative outlet. Seems to work out well. I keep a gardening journal at MyFolia which helps me track the progress of my plants.
Still very tired and barely have the energy to do the stuff I need to do, not to mention the stuff I want to do (the gardening seems my max now). Going to the doctor again on Tuesday, for recurring eye-issues. I wonder when my body will stabilise... (dear body, it's about time. Really!)
[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