A Springtime Balcony

Hey all, how are you holding up?

One of the things that has given me great joy during this shittest of times is seeing the plants on my balcony growing in the new season. Spring season means it is basically changing every other day and it’s been magnificent to observe extra attentive while everything else feels like it’s falling apart. I thought you might enjoy seeing some of that too and hear about some of the things going on there.

Last year during spring we had just moved here and were still fully in the unboxing phase. So while I had some things growing on the balcony it wasn’t much and I had been looking forward to this spring to fully emerge myself in it. Of course, as with everything those plans where jeopardized by the pandemic. All the plants on my balcony, as well as my tree, come from a local independent garden center. I had planned to go there again this spring for new supplies, seeds, plants etc. But with everything going on that never happened. Some places stayed open but they got so busy that going there would just be a dumb risk. So as with everything these days all things garden became a lot more adaptable and make do.

One of the things I was excited about in terms of all things spring was to see how my apple tree would fare. I got her late last summer, so this is my first spring as a tree parent. I wasn’t sure whether she was going to blossom at all, because she is so young still. Seeing her blossom for the first time was always going to be an exciting prospect, and became even more so because well… it happened in this timeline during a pandemic. Well, I’m not too proud to admit that I squealed with excitement when I saw signs of the first buds popping up.

She hasn’t blossomed a lot though, but that it’s been there at all was a gift in itself. It also doesn’t mean she will be growing any fruits this summer, I’m not expecting it anyway, but we will see. There will definitely be more exciting squeals if she does though.

The lavender has grown a lot too. I planted two small purple bushes in the same gigantic pot as the apple tree, to fill up some of the bareness. And after almost a year it has filled out nicely. (the pot is actually a container to mix concrete that used to belong to my grandmother). Over the last month slowly green flower buds have been shooting up allover the place, which are slowly turning purple at this time. With the colouring of the buds the scent of lavender has also started to fill the balcony making me smile every time I hang the washing out. At the same time I also planted a white variety, which is doing well, but seems to be a bit slower paced than their purple cousins.

I’ve not been having a spectacular time with planting from the seed up, and more to the point with getting them to sprout. This is the first time that I have it on such a scale and I do not exactly know what the problem is. The weather has been nice throughout in April too (when I started), so they got that going for them. I planted my first batch in some sort of super loose soil that was supposed to be good for seeds but I’m now wondering if it was a bit too loose? However it could just as easily be tough luck. What has been doing well is the lettuce that I bought and planted on a whim. A few days ago I spotted some tiny green dots which may be the tomatoes I planted in my latest and last attempt to get some seeds to sprout, and they’re starting to look quite hopefull now.

One of the plants I wanted to add this year was a strawberry bush but going out to get them was not a possibility and with my seeds going so terrible I had basically given up on that idea for this year. But then I found a place where you could order seedlings by post. This was not something I’ve ever done before so I wasn’t sure what I could expect, and I was quite curious to see. A couple of days later I received a thick brown envelope filled with soil and the tiniest strawberry babies that I planted the same day. That was about three weeks ago and they have since quadrupled in size!

With the arrival of the strawberry plants I also learned that my cats are overly interested in them, specifically in eating those tasty new green leaves (if you don’t have cats you might not know this, but if given the chance, my cats at least, basically become part cow). So I might have to get some hanging pots or something to give them a bit of a break from cat teeth. All in all ordering seedlings was a super positive experience, one I might repeat next year.

I did a pretty intense round of fertilizing in April. When everything is in pots that is basically a recurring necessity, especially with fruit carrying plants and trees. I used some organic granular fertilizers that I got when I got the tree last summer. I scraped of some of the top soil layer and then refilled it with fresh soil mixed with the fertilizer (and a bit of sand for the dry ground loving plants that I have).

Finally I added some herbs to the balcony. Particularly the basil is doing well and it’s been nice to walk out on to the balcony and just gather some leaves while cooking. I also brought my Verbena back from what I thought was the brink of death. Turns out she just needed a really intense pruning session. Most Verbena species are native to North America and/or Asia, but this is one of the few that is native to Europe. Growing up I knew the herb mostly by it’s common name in my native language and as I got more interested in plants it was interesting to discover how a lot of the common names in languages in countries and regions where the herb is native are a variation on “Iron Herb”. Anyway it’s mostly on my balcony because insects love it so much.

I’m not planning to add anything substantial for the summer. I hope and have my fingers crossed that the tomatoes I planted make it and perhaps I’ll add some bee and other insect friendly annual flowers to help them along.

That’s it from me. I hope you enjoyed this peek into my garden! Be well and until next time.


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