Out and about on the balcony…

After the rain that welcomed our return from our short holiday in the south of France on Tuesday, it has been very sunny and quite warm since Wednesday. Yesterday, the temperature remained in the upper half of the 20 degree Celsius range for the whole day … and I even saw our neighbours in the opposite block taking advantage of the warm May day to have their dinner on the balcony … as we did (however, it has just started to drizzle this morning … see how fickle the weather is these days!).

In fact, I have spent most of my free time on the balcony this week, taking advantage of the sunny days to work on my container garden. Still some way to go … but hopefully I will get most of what I intended to do completed and going nicely … before my trip back to visit the family in June … especially the watering part!

I really have to get that part sorted out before then … so that my plants will not suffer when I am away and watering will not be a chore for the hubby … when he has to hold the fort (or rather the balcony garden) for the two weeks that he will be here on his own before joining me in Singapore. Seriously, I dread to think about the condition I will find my garden in after our trip to Singapore … but … that thought is not going to stop me from continuing with my planting efforts for now! 🙂

As it would take too long for me to do an entry on the weekend excursions that we have enjoyed of late … instead I will show what I have been busy doing these few days on the balcony … and the seedlings that I bought from that big garden centre outside of Nîmes.

But first, I just have to show you this …

No, this is not the organic soil that we bought for our potted plants … but … it is my very first compost!! Yes … I did it! 🙂

I was not sure whether my attempt to make my own compost would succeed … but surprisingly it did … although it certainly took long enough. And mind you, this compost does not smell at all! All thanks to my dear friend Nit who told me how I could do a non-smelly compost suitable for a balcony. And no need to invest in a compost bin, either. An ordinary garbage bag works just as well!

And then from one of the books on container gardening that the hubby bought for me last year, I learnt to make this …

A cousin of the self-watering container … but which works with a container that already has holes in it. The 5-litre plastic bottle acts as the water reservoir for this plastic container which I bought from IKEA last year to store my garden stuff.

And this is how it looks like, all filled up with soil and plants.

The white IKEA plastic boxes made perfect planters, don’t you think? The planter in the middle was salvaged by the hubby while jogging. I used two 2-litre plastic bottle for the planter in the middle (which is why you see two white tubes in it) since I did not have enough 5-litre bottles.  This method is not as good as a self-watering container … from what I observed … since the water reservoir is smaller. But if you already have an old planter and do not wish to spend money purchasing a self-watering container, then this method can be still be useful to help retain some moisture in the soil.

And in one of these planters, I planted the precious seedlings that I brought home all the way from the south of France …

… heirloom tomatoes called Cornue des Andes … which are shaped like peppers. After being introduced to this tomato last year at the parents, I had been wanting to get my hands on it as soon as spring starts! And since it is not easy to get this particular variety here, I decided to play safe and bought two seedling plants just in case one fails to grow! Of course, I hope both will grow big and bear us many tomatoes! But one can only hope …

Interestingly, I read from the description on the internet by one of the online seed sellers that this particular variety of tomatoes will fall off the vine when ripe. Now … that would be exciting to see! 🙂

And the other seedlings that hail from south of France?

Well … it was just another strawberry plant …

… but with an interesting habit and name. Called Mount Everest, this ever-bearing strawberry produces runners up to 1 metre long which can be trained to climb up a trellis or obelisk … thus the name. I first learnt of its existence when I was searching for information on Camara, the pink-flowered strawberry that I had bought much earlier. So, imagine my excitement when I saw it being sold at the garden centre in Nîmes.

I still have not re-planted it because I have not decided how I am going to plant it. Up a trellis … or hanging from a pot. I would prefer to hang it so that it can cascade down nicely and not take up any floor space. Unfortunately, it would mean having to drill and install a hook on the wall … which then means that I will have to wait for the hubby to do it. Hmmm …

But seedlings are not the only thing we brought back for my balcony garden.

We also bought two of this plastic crates … which are collapsible … because they cost just 2 Euros each, quite cheap! And I like the colours, too … 🙂

If there had been more space in the daddy-man’s car, I would have brought back some wooden vegetable crates that I saw being thrown away after the market ended at Saintes Maries de la Mer on Monday. But since I could not do that … I was happy to get these plastic crates as substitutes!

And we also bought two of this big plastic bottles to help me with watering of the plants. The same bottle is being sold here at double the price …. so for the same amount, we were able to get two bottles in France. Thankfully I had not bought any in Lausanne before making that trip to the south of France! Otherwise, I would be cursing at myself for paying too much!

Ultimately, I hope to fix it to a dripper hose so that I will not have to water individual plants manually! But that is for future project … before I leave for my trip back to visit the family lah!

Other entries on my balcony garden:

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4 thoughts on “Out and about on the balcony…

  1. You are most welcome. If you want to speed up the composting process, you can chop or cut the veg and fruit scraps into small pieces. I did not do that for my first compost but will definitely do so for the next one. ps: crushed egg shells, used coffee grains and tea leaves also make good compost materials and do not smell. So I will add these into my compost this year, too.

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  2. Thanks a lot CT. Will try immediately. I have plenty of dried leaves from our nangka tree. Noted no fish or meat, just veg scraps from the kitchen. Thanks again.

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  3. I don’t use any fertilizer. Just vegetable and fruit scraps which I layered with soil and dried stuff (eg, dried leaves or the straws that I have). I started with some soil as base (its the soil that I had used for planting last year yg dah tak ada nutrients sangat), then add the scraps and then layered with some used straws and dried leaves. No meat or fish stuff (as these would smell). And I poke lots of holes all over the garbage bags to allow some air circulation (to prevent it becoming smelly). Continue the layers until the bag is full. And then set it aside. That’s it. Ideally, you should turn the stuff once in a while so that they mix well. But I skipped that step because I did not know I must do that, not until just a few weeks ago! Which is why my compost took quite a while to form. Of course the cold winter also caused the composting to take longer since composting required heat… which should not be a problem in M’sia. Good luck!!

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  4. Kak Maz feel you and Paul should be farmers, mesti successful. Can I ask on the DIY compost, macamana nak buat?. From ehow it says “Add two shovels full of garden soil and 1/2 cup high-nitrogen fertilizer.” I have hard time finding high-nitrogen fertilizer. Can you share? Thanks dear.

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