So we are now officially in spring. It has been a good start so far and I can only hope that there will not be any sudden and unwelcome change in the weather because … I cannot wait to remove the covers from the greenhouse shelves and to put away for good all the loose plastic sheets that I have been using to offer protection to some of my plants from the cold weather.
The big snowfall that fell on the first week of March was thankfully a one-off event. There has not been any more snowfall (not even any little flurries) and the weather has been fluctuating between some wet days and some sunny days. For me, this is of course the best kind of weather for gardening because not only do I have some days when I can work on my balcony garden, but I am also able to take advantage of the rainfall to collect some good water for watering the plants.
Even the plants seem to be thriving in this weather … at least those that I have growing on the balcony. Every day, it has been such a pleasure to see the plants growing a little bigger, a little taller, a little greener, sprouting buds and then leaves … and flowers!
And of course, the tummy gets to enjoy a bit more too! 😀
Sharing some shots of my balcony garden as it stands right now … at the start of spring 2017 …
My balcony potager … getting merrier with more pots joining in and also becoming greener than it was three weeks ago.
There are already quite a few greens that I could harvest (and have already harvested) to fill our tummy … which is really nice this early in spring.
The herbs are thriving in the cool late winter and early spring weather. And much to my delight, my small pot of rosemary grown from cuttings last year started to flower in early March.
From top left (clockwise), … the green salad has also grown bigger, both the lovage and the day lilies have re-sprouted to sizable sizes … and the pea shoots are waiting to be harvested.
Most of the strawberry plants have started to fill out their containers and are looking a lot greener than just a few weeks ago, …
… and the raspberry plants have started to sprout beautiful green leaves. I love looking at the leave buds growing and unfurling each day.
On the topic of sprouts … I am pleased to share that, at last, I harvested my first batch of purple broccoli sprouts last week.
It had been a very long wait (as the seeds were sown in spring of last year) … but … the tender and sweet taste of the sprouts certainly made up for it. Both the hubby and I agreed that these sprouts were delicious … far superior than the ones that are sold at the farmers’ market! I am not sure whether it was due to the cold weather effect, but the flower stem is tender and sweet enough to eat raw. Unfortunately, we shall have to wait awhile before we can enjoy a second harvest.
In the meantime, I look forward to be able to taste its white cousin because …
… according to what I have read on the internet, the white broccoli sprouts are supposed to taste even better than the purple ones. If that is true, then the hubby and I shall be in for a little treat! I loikeee … 😀
But the broccoli are not the only ones that are sprouting.
All the kale plants have started to bolt and to sprout flower buds too! This naturally means … that the days of the kale are getting numbered and the only way to try and stop or delay their demise is to cut away the sprouting blooms.
Fortunately, kale blooms are equally yummy to eat. So two days ago, after cutting off the sprouting heads to halt the plants from bolting even further, we had some kale leaves and kale sprouts to go with our fried noodle for dinner! 🙂
And while on the subject of harvest, recently, I also harvested the topinambours (jerusalem artichokes in English) from the second and a much larger pot. Unlike the first batch which has reddish skin, this second batch has a white skin. Taste wise, I personally prefer the white-skinned topinambours to that of the red-skinned ones. But I thought that I would try to grow both variety on our balcony last year.
Given the size of the containers in which they were grown, the harvest for both were really quite pathetic. So despite being an easy plant to grow, I have decided not to grow it again this year so as to grow something else in its place.
This year, in addition to growing more garlic, I also intend to grow more chillies as organically grown chillies are difficult to get at the farmers’ market or even at the supermarkets in Lausanne.
And this particular chilli plant which has been bidding its time inside the living room waiting for the warm weather to return …will continue to be an important member of my chilli plant family. It gave me lots of beautiful hot yellow chillies last year … and after a brief hiatus in winter …
… it has started to flower again in February and finally began producing the coveted chillies a week ago. Yeayyy … 😀
My bok choy (bottom) and Chinese green mustard seedlings (top) are also growing nicely … and these will hopefully come as a delicious addition (if not a timely replacement) for the kale in another month or so. I would normally sow a batch in one pot (left picture) and then re-plant them into a few other pots or even empty available space in other plant pots when the seedlings are big enough to handle the move so that all will get a chance to grow big.
In fact, I find this way of container gardening makes more efficient use of the available space that I have to grow as much food as possible on our balcony. And so for my late winter sowing of radishes, apart from growing some in its own pot I have also scattered some in other pots as well. Just like the bok choy and Chinese green mustard, radish is a good choice for such manner of gardening as they do not take up much space and can be harvested in just a little over a month … depending on the variety of the radish chosen.
So … the blue potatoes have been planted (at the hubby’s request) and several other seeds have also been sown such as tomatoes, chillies, peppers, eggplants, chards, sprouting broccoli, onions, peas, salads, sweet basils, etc …
Some have sprouted quickly enough, while others are taking their own sweet time to germinate so as to teach me the meaning of an important word called … ‘patience’. And some even failed to germinate completely after making me wait for weeks or died on me after having germinated in order to teach me an even more important two-word phrase called … ‘try again’! hehehe … 😀
The work is far from over but I am definitely very pleased that my balcony potager is progressing nicely. And I am even more pleased that despite making my balcony a happening place … I also get to go out and do some serious late winter and early spring foraging! But more of that in another post lah! 🙂