I have just realised that I have not written a single entry in July. I knew that I had not written for sometime … but I was not expecting it to be as long as that!
I must admit that it was tempting to extend my silence even longer and enjoy the nice break from writing and, especially, from uploading on this blog the many photos that I have stored on my computer! Yet I am also quite keen to show the progress on my edible balcony garden … especially on those plants that I am growing for the very first time this year. So this afternoon, I decided to force myself to sit down and write an update on my balcony garden.
After the chill and wet spell in late June, summer weather has finally come to visit us in July. Naturally, I am very happy for my plants, especially for those heat-loving ones. But with no rainfall for almost two weeks, it means that our supply of rain/snow water has totally run out. Since last week, I have been using tap water to water my plants. And with the daily sunshine … it also means daily watering. Thankfully, one half of my plants is planted in containers with water reservoirs … which helps to cut down on the watering that I have to do each day. But … there is the other half that still needs to be watered everyday … sometime twice a day on a very hot day!
And then, there is the daily battle with the aphids. In addition, grasshoppers and black flea beetles have decided to join the aphids to taunt me this year. Although we have bought organic pesticide … where ever I can, I try to refrain from using this … not unless I really have to. As a result, I often end up spending quite sometime getting rid of these pests with my own hands! And between the watering and pest control … there is always some re-potting to be done, almost on a daily basis.
Naturally, I had hoped to cut down on working in the garden after the start of Ramadan. However, I have learnt that unless I would choose to ignore and leave things as they are, there are always things to do … and to improve on in my balcony garden! So, despite my initial plan of taking it easier once fasting had started, I am still spending quite a bit of time in the garden.
But I am happy to say that despite having to put in more effort this year … I am also harvesting more than last year. We might still have to buy some of our vegetables from the supermarket (as it is not possible to grow enough on our balcony to meet our needs) … but so far, we also got to enjoy more produce from our balcony garden this year … which is really and truly nice! 🙂
So far … I have not stopped picking the salad leaves, as well as the peas and strawberries.
These were the combined harvests of yesterday and of the day before. After a brief lull, the golden sweet peas have started flowering and producing again. Unfortunately, I had not realised that these pea plants were very thirsty plants and, as result of my inattentiveness, some parts of the plants have turned yellow owing to a lack of watering in these hot sunny days. So now I water the pea plants twice a day to make sure that they have enough to drink!
Beside picking, I also spent part of yesterday’s morning trimming away the dried and yellowing parts of the pea plants … as well as tying some parts that had looked like they could do with some support. It might look a little straggly right now … but there are new shoots and buds appearing, so that hopefully with more frequent watering in this hot summer weather, they will become beautifully green once again and continue to produce more delicious pea pods in the weeks to come.
The strawberry plants, too, have continued to give us strawberries even though the flowering and fruit production have started to slow down. These were harvested a week ago It was one of the bigger strawberry harvests that I have had since the strawberries started to ripen in June … not only in terms of the numbers but also in terms of the size of the strawberries.
Because among the red strawberries harvested …
…. were these two large strawberries … courtesy of the pink-flowered strawberry plants that I bought this spring! I could not believe my eyes when I saw how big the berries grew.
Unfortunately, I did not get to taste either of them as the hubby ate both … arggh!!!
Although the flowering and fruiting of most of the red strawberry plants have started to slow down … this light pink-flowered and the deep pink-flowered strawberry plants, on the other hand, have started producing more heavily in July. Despite having already picked a number of strawberries from this plant … there are still more waiting to develop and ripen fully.
Maybe … if I am lucky … it will produce another huge strawberry for me to taste! 🙂
And do you remember my broad bean plants that were finally podding in June? Yup, the beans have grown bigger … and I have harvested them a few times since then.
These were harvested yesterday.
Although I enjoy the taste of broad bean shoots or tips … I cannot say the same for the beans themselves. So given the effort it took to keep the plants reasonably free of aphids, I doubt that I will grow them again next year. Or rather I will … but only for the young shoots but not for the beans. For now, I am waiting for all the beans to ripen quickly so that I can re-use the pot to plant something else!
And last but not least …
… my one and only dwarf runner bean plant is finally flowering once again. And unlike last year, it is continuing to produce only red flowers instead of a mix of white and red flowers. But happily, unlike last year when I only got to harvest one good runner bean, … it looks like I might be able to harvest a lot more runner beans this year … as I noticed that several beans had already begun forming this week. This is great news …. as, unlike the broad beans, I have found that I quite enjoy runner beans!
And at the foot of the runner bean plant … the beans of this tiny green bean plant are about ready to be harvested. Unfortunately, not enough for me to make stir fried green beans …. but more than enough to make me happy seeing them growing so beautifully! 😉
This will be the second time that I shall be harvesting green beans but the first from this tiny plant. The other tiny green bean plant has only just started flowering again.
Strangely, I have not been successful in sprouting more runner bean and green bean seedlings. Neither have the third sowing of American Brown salad seeds produce any growth … argggh!! Oh well … I will just have to sow something else that will grow lah!
More gardening updates in the coming entries. But in the meantime, I suppose it is still not too late for me to wish all my Muslim readers Ramadan Kareem!!