Balcony potager in February …

Just as I was going to share how good a month February had been, with not a single snowfall and mostly sunny days, a rather drastic change in the weather occurred on the very last day. We had rain, howling winds as well as a hailstorm. The little iceballs came down fast and furious so that I was forced to go out to the rescue of some of my plants that were basking in the sunshine just a day earlier … haizzz.

But apart from today, February was on the whole a very mild winter month so I must still sing its praise. And as a result,  I was able to take advantage of many sun-filled February days to get a headstart on my balcony potager for this year. The balcony is still a mess … well, it is not terribly messy … but the tidying, sorting, shifting, sowing and re-potting are already underway for the coming gardening season.

And because last year I decided that I was going to try to grow some leafy greens through the winter, I am now blessed with a balcony potager that is already providing us with some fresh greens. Although it required some effort on my part to make sure that the plants were well protected from the bitter cold in the middle of winter and from the onslaught of snowfall … looking at how they are doing right now, I am glad that I did so.

Despite being so early in the year, we have been fortunate to be already able to enjoy freshly picked salad greens from the balcony. In fact, apart from the period in January when we were inundated with snowfalls and when the temperature plummeted to freezing point, thereby causing even the soil of the plants in the two mini greenhouses to harden, I was able to pick a few edibles from my balcony … and from inside our home throughout winter. It has been a good season indeed … just as it had been a very good season foraging for mushroom in autumn!

But gardening this winter has not all been about success. There have been failures too. I have lost a few plants and also nearly lost a few others, only because I wanted to experiment a little. I had wanted to see how well some of the plants would withstand the winter chill if they were placed inside the greenhouse or were left outside of the greenhouse but protected from the snow. Some showed me quickly enough how well they took to the chilly temperature while others suffered in silence until it was too late to do anything to save them. The experiment has been very informative and has thus spurred me to start on another new experiment! 🙂

So here are some pictures of the current state of my balcony potager

balcony

The slightly messy and very wet balcony on the last morning of February. Several of the fragile plants are still under cover … or at least covered whenever the weather is not very friendly.

But when the weather behaves, they get to come out and bask in the sun!

salads

Some fresh salads in winter … Indian pennywort, red-veined sorrels, green lettuce and wild rockets (clockwise, starting from top left). They were all from last year growing season.

dscn0631a

My first sweet treat for the year … white alpine strawberry … with a few more ripening.

brassicas

Sprouting broccoli, red Russian kale, dwarf green kale and bright light chards … these are some of my small collection from the Brassica family.

Indeed, this winter I am “brassica-lly” very happy! 😀  With the sunny and relatively dry weather in February, my brassica plants have started to grow quite luscious. Whereas before, I would harvest only the leaves for our meal, I now look forward to be able to harvest my purple sprouting broccoli soon …and hopefully the white ones (top right picture) in spring.

garlic

Another of my small produce that I have already started harvesting … garlic and carrots. I am not harvesting the garlic itself but only the leaves which I added for flavour. This year I am growing several pots of garlic, including a variety that is grown in Switzerland.

topinambour

And waiting to be harvested from the big container on the left are the topinambours (Jerusalem artichokes in English). I hope that when I do so,  I shall not find them in the same state as those in the smaller pot (right pictures). The topinambours in the smaller pot were already sprouting both roots and shoots when I dug them out last week … arghh …!

I hope that the weather will continue to behave for the remaining days of the winter season so that I can also continue to make good progress with my work on the balcony. My aim is to get my balcony potager ready to welcome spring … so that I shall then be able to make better use of beautiful spring days to engage in my other passion … foraging! hehehe … 😀

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