Monday, April 08, 2013

Autumn 2013 #balconyGarden plantings

A few weeks ago I attended a really great 2 hour gardening class at Eden Gardens. If you're thinking of setting up your own garden then a course like this is wonderful.  I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The class was so inspiring!  It made me want to give up my day job and become a full time balcony gardener. Sadly the office job pays for all my potting mix (and all my seeds too) so at this stage balcony farming is just a fun little side gig. 

I went home from Eden Gardens with three bags of potting mix, a packet of kale seeds and a renewed sense of urgency that I needed to get some of my autumn/winter plants in to their pots asap...or risk missing my window.

The kale seeds were the only new seeds that I've bought for this winter (so far). Over the year that I've been gardening I've somehow managed to  accumulate quite a collection of seeds.  A few seeds had expired but I have more than enough to keep me going until we head off on our overseas jaunt later in the year.

So where do I plant my seeds? I plant everything directly into pots.  As I'm gardening on such a small scale there's no need for me to plant seeds into seedling punnets and then transplant to the final home (like you would in a "real" garden). To me that's a waste of time and needlessly upsets the seedlings roots - I also find transplanting seedlings really stressful as the potential for me to kill ALL the seedlings is pretty high.  The pots I grow in aren't that big so the soil gets nice and warm to help things germinate - so planting directly in to the pots is the way for me.

I tend to use a mixture of new potting mix and, where I can, I recycle some of the potting mix from previous growing seasons.  I don't reuse potting mix from plants that have been in their pots for a really long time like my darn eggplants, or from plants that have had some "issues" with diseases and pests like my darn peas.  If an old pot has done alright the previous growing season I try and recycle the potting mix if I can - after all potting mix ain't free!

I really have no idea what I'm doing when I'm recycling potting mix and I've heard from various sources that it's either a good or a bad thing to do.  Basically new potting mix comes with a bunch of stuff it in like nutrients and good micro-organisms that are depleted by your growing plant (this is why it is important to feed/fertilize your plants during their growing journey - the only "food" they get in their soil is what you feed them) . When I recycle I tend to put ALL the old potting mix into a bin, mix it all up, add in some dynamic lifter (pong) and osmocote.  I assume all of this is putting something back into the mix.  When the soil goes into the pot I give it a good watering with a watering can that has seasol or blood + bone mixed into it. I have no idea if this is "right" but it kinda works so I'm just going to go with it for now.

As a side note I ALWAYS ALWAYS wear a face mask when working with potting mix plus I wear gloves as potting mix contains micro-organisms that may be harmful to your health. No joke! Be safe.

So for autumn winter I'm attempting to grow:
  • kale (which will be an experiment)
  • 2 x pots of carrots
  • beans (which have already been munched by caterpillars and they are less than 2 weeks old!)
  • peas
  • radishes
  • carrots 
  • bok choi
  • pak choi
  • corriander
  • shallots
  • 1 x broccoli plant - from a seedling I was given by a colleague 
This is in addition to the herbs that are already out on the balcony - sage, rosemary, thyme, lemon grass, basil parsley and chives. It's a jungle out there!

I've also bought myself a "potato bag" and when the weather gets a bit colder I'm going to give potato growing a whirl. Wish me luck!


  1. There's a community centre near my house that holds free "No Dig" gardening workshops, which I wouldn't mind checking out sometime. It's just a pity that I don't get loads of full sun in my backyard, thanks to all the trees surrounding it.

    1. Oooo - is that at the City Farm? I think no dig is really interesting. There are things you could plant in a shady spot - I think it's things like coriander and parsley...a garden centre could give you the heads up.

  2. Great post Mel! I'm about to move into a new place that has no garden so I'm going to have to start growing in pots. I had no idea where to start but seeing your pictures has inspired me to pot up! Good luck with the Kale, mine was a huge success last winter/spring in a garden bed, so I hope I can recreate it in a pot too! x

    1. I actually wonder if I'd be able to garden in a proper all seems to BIG and unconstrained! Pots are wonderful...I can grow just about anything...sort of.

  3. I can never seem to grow coriander! I am keen to see how yours goes. I have had a lot of luck with Vietnamese mint though, tastes like coriander, but stronger to me!

    Crap i never even thought about NOT using the same potting mix, whoops, fingers crossed its going to be ok!

    Love your garden posts.

  4. I have such a terrible sense with gardening I wonder if they could do anything with me? :P

  5. Your balcony looks so edible! I didn't think of wearing a face mask, or gloves...

    Our 'garden' has whittled down to just parsley and chilli :( We need to sort it out and get more food growing!

  6. Great post Mel! I have let me potted garden go a bit. You have inspired me to get cracking on it again. Whoa, I had no idea you had to wear a mask when handling potting, yikes...

  7. Potato growing is seriously super easy! Back in high school when I attended an agricultural farm, they told us as long as you chuck the potato underground, it will grow. Make sure when harvesting to get every potato or they'll keep producing more spuds! Good luck with all your new seedlings - I'm excited to see how your kale grows :)

  8. I love your balcony and your determination Mel. This gardening class sounds really useful. Happy autumn gardening to you.

  9. Love your balcony garden - so inspiring!

  10. Let me know how you go with your potatoes. I am waiting for the rain to stop so I can plow my paddock to plant potatoes and garlic. My soil is to heavy to do it in the rain. I will do a post about growing ginger soon too. If you buy a big enough pot and put it at the pack of the other pots you should be fine, plus it would create shade for your summer veggies too.

  11. Hi Mel, your balcony is coming along so beautifully. Sounds like you are taking all the right things into account with your soil to me... I think that the best thing about gardening is that it is easy to just give it a go and see what happens then adjust as needed next time around. Happy growing. K

  12. I didn't know they ran classes. Think I'm going to investigate them! After moving from a City flat to a Blue Mountains house, I've inherited a garden and have NO idea what I'm doing.


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