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

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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 … 😀

Balcony garden in November … after the snowfall …

This morning we had another snowfall. But, thankfully, it did not last very long … just long enough to blanket the area with some fresh snow. By late morning, beautiful sunshine started making its appearance … and slowly but surely the snow started to melt.

But the snow is not going to go away anytime soon … because … more snowfall is to be expected tomorrow. So … no tidying of the balcony just yet!

Despite my worry for the plants on our balcony, … most of them that were hit by the snowfall seemed to be doing well enough. At least … they had managed to survive the snowfall for the past two mornings … and hopefully, they will survive the expected snowfall tomorrow, too.

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What a beauuuutiful morning to wake up to … all white and pretty. I felt sooo blessed for having been given the opportunity to enjoy such beauty once again. 😀

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And from where we are, the city centre below looked almost ethereal this morning.

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These birds perched high up on a big tree opposite our balcony must have had a magnificent ‘bird’s eye’ view of Lausanne all covered in snow this morning.

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The state of our balcony this morning … with fresh snow that had fallen just a few hours earlier.

Protective wraps

Thankfully, I had managed to cover some of the plants that were hit by snow during yesterday’s snowfall. And it seemed that the cover had done a very good job of protecting them … as they appeared to be well enough when I peered under the cover late this afternoon. What a relief!

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Even this Caloro pepper plant seemed not to be too affected by the freezing weather and the snowfall.

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And those two tall plants covered in bubble wraps … they are the tomatillo and ground cherry plants. Despite being hit hard by falling snow …

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… these tomatillo plants (there are two plants in one pot) had appeared to be coping well enough. They might not be thriving … but, at least, they are not lifeless!

Ground cherry

As for this ground cherry plant … it happily continues to flower. Nice! 😀

But I think what amazed me most … were those plants that I had had to leave to bear the brunt of Mr Snow.

Surviving snowfall

The siow pai-tsai greens (top pictures) which I had not expected to survive after being buried under the snow … were looking green and healthy! The same goes with the colourful chards (bottom pictures) …

Sunflowers

… as well as these sunflowers. I had thought the flowers were doomed after being subjected to heavy snowfall … but once the sun started to melt the snow away … I could see the flowers starting to perk up once again. So … there is still some life to my sunflowers even in this wintry weather! 😀

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Unfortunately, there are some casualties … like these sweet potato plants. The leaves are severely burnt by the freezing weather and the snowfall … and I have no idea what I will see once I started digging them out! I will have to wait for the weather to warm up a little before I start doing so.

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But a least … my strawberries are safely ensconced inside the greenhouse shelves … so that I shall still be able to enjoy some fresh strawberries in the midst of wintry weather! hehehe … 😀

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