January Gardening Update: balcony gardening basics

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Last time I posted I had tiny little tomato plants that I prayed would grow strong enough to support just a couple of the heirloom tomatoes I was hoping for. The packet says they’ll grow to weigh 1lb- 2lb each!  This morning I counted TWENTY beefsteak tomatoes on my largest plant. TWENTY! Is it ok to admit that I count them most mornings?

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I don’t have any big secrets to share with you, no clever tricks or methods to help you grow a giant crop. Just one, simple tip: spend a couple of minutes every single morning caring for your plants. Use your common sense: keep them well watered, tomatoes are thirsty, trim dead leaves and keep the soil area clear of debris. Support your tomatoes with bamboo sticks, or purpose made cages from a hardware store. Use gardening wire to tie them to the bamboo sticks. Keep your tomatoes in quite a sunny area. That’s it, that’s all I’ve got.

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0E1A3856People ask how I manage to grow the plants on the 14th floor. To be honest, I see it as an advantage. I don’t seem to get any bugs up here. It’s a very controlled environment: I’m religious about keeping out anything that could bring harmful insects onto my balcony and I control how much water my plants get. The only disadvantage I find is the wind. I get a lot of bloom drop (when flowers grow on the plant, but wilt before they produce fruit) because it’s very windy up here. I am so grateful that the recent rain didn’t turn into storms. During last year’s storms I brought my tomatoes inside, but this year they’re tied tightly to the balcony and can’t be moved.

Here’s what a tomato looks like it when the flower has set and the fruit is just starting to grow:

0E1A3862The flower drops off the bottom as it increases in size.

All my tomatoes are green at the moment and will probably take another 60 days or so to turn red. I think they have to grow to full size (1-2lb!!) and then I have to wait 60 days for them to turn red. Or possibly yellow. I’m not sure if the 2 plants that are growing fruit are red or yellow Brandywine as they came as a mixed packet.

So now the bad news… I have six plants that haven’t yet borne fruit. Again, I think the wind is a problem. Also the pots are a little small. I’m hoping when it warms up they will start to fruit. I really hope they do- one is a purple Tomatillo, and the others are Black Krim, Golden Sunburst and Coustralee. I’m just gonna keep doing what I’m doing and hope the sun will do its thing. Check out this flower on one of the smaller plants just waiting fruit!

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So, how’s everything else doing?

Well… the mint is slower than last year and I’m not sure why… kinda strange. I think maybe I just need to plant some more. The coriander and thyme, both of which are quite hard to grow from seed are doing ok. Oregano is doing well, as is the parsley. To be honest, herbs are super easy to grow, as long as you keep them watered.

Check out my chillies!

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The chilli flowers are so pretty:

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And finally I’m not quite sure what’s going on here…

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Happy Gardening! Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.

5 thoughts on “January Gardening Update: balcony gardening basics

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