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Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Balcony Garden 2021


Behold, this summer's balcony garden!  Our balcony gardening was fairly limited last year.  We were pretty late in acquiring any plants at all because we were dutifully staying at home except for essential outings.  Then, by the time we did decide to buy plants, moving was looking like a distinct possibility, so I didn't want to go too overboard.  I bought a few herb plants and moved them with us last summer.

I definitely wanted to do some balcony gardening this year. We currently have basil, cherry tomatoes, parsley, and my faithful mint plant.  One wrinkle of balcony gardening in our new home is that our plants get less sunlight than they did in our old place, mainly because we have a solid brick wall on our balcony here, as opposed to rails that let the light through.  I basically learn all of my gardening lessons the hard way, but may do some things differently next summer in light (haha) of our gardening circumstances.

Basil:  I'll grow this again next year.  Summer is basically incomplete for me without copious quantities of pesto.  It took some experimenting to help the basil plants get sunlight, but one of them has done extremely well with the planter raised off the ground, closer to the light.

Cherry tomatoes:  I really love the idea of cherry tomatoes and plan to keep trying.  This year has actually been reasonably successful.  The plants have a lot of brown leaves, but they are producing tomatoes.  Pollinators seem to be able to find our balcony, so I've stopped resorting to toothbrush pollination.  Unfortunately, other critters have been able to find the balcony, too, and sometimes take bites out of the tomatoes while they are still on the plant.  It seems to matter little whether the tomatoes are actually ripe or not.  I'm guessing squirrels are the perpetrators, although I did once see a chipmunk scuttling across the brick wall.

However...I think the cherry tomatoes would benefit from much more light than our balcony offers.  Our plants grew very tall very quickly, which I suppose could be a characteristic of their variety, but I suspect may have to do with them trying to reach more sunlight. The result of this is unwieldy tomato plants that spill over the balcony wall and sometimes appear to be fighting with the shrubbery behind the balcony.  I will try growing cherry tomatoes next year, but may try to find a variety that is more shade-tolerant.

Parsley:  This was a disappointingly underperforming plant this year, no doubt in part because it was visited by a parsley-eating caterpillar.  I'll probably try planting another herb in its place next year.

Mint:  How can I complain, when it keeps coming back year after year?  As long as this mint wants to survive, it has a planter with me.

I'm thinking of adding some shade-tolerant plants next year. I've read that leafy greens are generally okay in the shade, so I'm thinking of trying kale, particularly since I eat a lot of it anyway.  Short of a true crisis, it's hard to imagine what would make me want to move at this point, so I think I'll have plenty of time to figure out gardening on this particular balcony.

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