Monday, September 10, 2007

Urban Balcony Gardens

Just the other day I went on a walk through my neighborhood and noticed that there really ain't that many balcony gardens around. Even though there are a lot of reasons for starting your own balcony garden, it seems that most of people in my neighborhood don't think so or simply don't care.
Most of the balconies are left empty, letting the concrete jungle take over. However, those balconies that are transformed into urban gardens are mostly flower gardens usually created for pleasing the eye.

I must say that I haven't seen any veggies or herbs on these urban balcony gardens, but on the other hand you can't see what's growing on my balcony either. Some of them are simply to far away for my eye or even camera to capture it right. That's also the main reason why you haven't seen a single photo of my balcony garden from the street view, but maybe one day with a better camera that will change. For the time being, I'll be posting photos of various balcony gardens I stumble upon while walking the streets of Zagreb, just like this one.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Vertical Gardening

I came upon this interesting solution created for vertical gardening and I myself think it's not a bad one; what do you think!? Of course, it has some disadvantages, but you can't say that it doesn't have some advantages too.

It's for sure a great solution for those indoor gardeners that don't have a lot of space in their apartments and hassle everyday to find some for their
loving plants. On the other hand, I can easily imagine something like that incorporated on my balcony, like a little herb tower garden. I can even imagine it like a solution for greening the city, for example vertical garden fences, bus stations maybe!? Vertical gardens in your apartments, offices, in restaurants...ha, ha, ha!! Why not use them for outdoor gardens!? Maybe I overdid it, but I'll be sure to install something like that in my home garden next year. I'm thinking it would be great on my balcony in the hot days and again a great solution for growing herbs in the kitchen, especially in cold winter days. There are some disadvantages, obviously you need enough light, whether artificial or natural. The size of plants you grow in this kind of vertical garden might be also a problem, as the size of your container may be limited, so choose your plants carefully. And what about air circulation, hmm!?

Well, all in all I think if the right choices(regarding the plants you grow) and conditions are made(regarding sufficient light and air) this could be a great solution for a vertical garden, indoors or outdoors.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Just Another Dinner

I spent most of my day working on my home garden and then it came a time to eat something. Here's a little something I came up with. It was the stuff I could find in my kitchen: one zucchini, some button mushrooms, homegrown pepper freshly picked from my balcony garden and some pasta of course.

And here's the result!

It was pretty good I might add!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Update on my Balcony Garden

Well, things look a bit different on my balcony garden, some plants were removed and others planted, but all in all everything is o.k.!

One Saint Pierre tomato plant and two cherry tomato plants that already gave us a lot of fruit, but were severely injured in a couple of storms had to be chopped down. The injuries they suffered were not the only issue, they were also sun burned and infested with some pests I've never seen until now. It didn't look to good and I decided to remove those sickly looking plants. However, I still have a few tomato plants in the other corner of my balcony garden. Those are looking pretty healthy and are producing fruit quite nicely although they too are under attack of those unknown pests I mentioned.

It's been raining all day, so I'll be spraying with some neem oil when it stops and hope for the best! It seems that this year a lot of people in my area are having problems with their tomato gardens, but I'll dedicate a post regarding this theme very soon.

In one of my older posts I was telling you that I'm sorry because I haven't grown any lettuce this year, but that has changed before a month ago or so when I planted some arugula(rucola or rocket salad) which has already been on our menu. A bunch of seeds were sown in one container as you can see from this picture taken just one week after they were put in soil.

Some herbs from my balcony garden were harvested and dried, some seeds collected but I'll be writing about that in one of my following posts together with the various techniques I use for these purposes.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Italman is Back!

As I explained in my previous post, lately I haven't had the time to blog about stuff going on in my urban garden, but I'm back in the city now and soon you'll find out what's happening on my balcony!

Until then watch the fire burn with me!

Monday, August 27, 2007

What's this?

Lately I haven't been posting updates on my balcony garden regularly, but that's only because I haven't been at home that much. However, my mother is taking care of our apartment garden and most of the plants are doing alright. On the other hand, I'm spending most of my spare time in the nature enjoying the gifts of mother earth, but when I'm at home I make sure to give some additional love and care to all of my plants. Just the other day while doing a check up on my balcony garden plants, I found this bunch of larvae on my tomato plant, i.e. leaf. There's also some spider mites and aphids, so I'll have to spray my plants with some neem oil as soon as I can. It seems that I have some unwanted guests on my balcony garden, don't you think so?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Overgrow the Balcony

In couple of my previous posts I mentioned that my balcony garden tomatoes are growing like crazy and it seems that they wont stop growing soon. I'm talking about my two giant tomato plants that are growing in my balcony plant box and each one is at least 5 feet tall.

I had some serious issues
with these plants, but as it says on the seed package, it's a late variety and in the last few weeks the fruit production has gone wild. Hmmm, finally! Next year I'll be planting those a bit later, because they almost overgrew the balcony and brought a lot of problems with its giant proportions. You know, my balcony garden isn't so big! For example, the tomato support issue has been and still is one of the greatest problems I'm faced with. I have to clime all over my balcony to keep this plants somewhat supported, but it's becoming an impossible mission. Apart from that, they are leaving almost no space for my cherry tomatoes, which have to struggle to get some air and light. Of course, I've done some pruning, but still there's not a lot of space for my other balcony garden plants which have gotten pretty much shaded. Luckily, I planted those big Saint Pierre tomatoes in the corners of my balcony garden and I can see now it was a wise choice. The fruit of these plants is so yummy and I learned some stuff this year that I don't intend to repeat the following year.

Unfortunately, one of the giants which has already rewarded us with some great fruit has suffered a lot and the fruit production was diminished significantly. It was damaged in a few storms we've had, but I've already wrote about that so you can take a look at some of the older posts from my urban garden blog. However, the plants growing in the opposite corner of my balcony garden are doing more or less o.k. and haven't suffered that much damage.

I can't wait for all those tomatoes to ripen, but in the meanwhile I'll nibble on my cherry tomatoes!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Italman's breakfast

Here's my homegrown Saint Pierre tomato with some bread and cheese, hmmm so delicious!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Balcony Saint Pierre Tomatoes & Peppers

My balcony garden is still producing a great amount of cherry tomatoes and although we've lost a lot due to the bad weather, I must say I'm still quite happy with my urban grow! It feels great to walk out of the kitchen and harvest a dozen of cherry tomatoes every now and then. They are so tasty, so sweet and you can pick one when ever you want. However, other organically grown veggies were also recently harvested from my city garden and they too deserve a word or two. I'm talking about the peppers which I grew from seeds my brother brought a few years ago from Macedonia and my giant Saint Pierre tomatoes.

I must say that no bought tomato beats the taste of my homegrown Saint Pierre, hmmm it's so tasty and the peppers...!!!

Birds of Prey Keeping Pigeons Away

I have already written a few posts regarding the problems pigeons are causing on my balcony, however today things are looking much better. I've tried a couple of methods in order to get rid of pigeons or better said in order to keep them away, but recently I got some extra help!

At first, I noticed we have some newcomers in our neighborhood as they could be easily seen flying the sky over my apartment building. Since then, every morning you can here a high pitched call that sou
nds something like kee-kee-kee. I'm not a bird expert, but I've done some research and it seems that the birds in question are called Common Kestrels. When they hover over my neighborhood, it seems like there aren't any pigeons around and I guess that's because they can easily become their prey.

It's great to have such friends high up in the urban skies! I managed to take a few photos of them, but unfortunately not the best quality!

Kestrel(Falco tinnunculus)

I hope I'll be able to capture these beautiful birds of prey much better very soon!

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Wet Balcony Veggies

Just a few photos of my balcony veggies after the rain.

The harvest day is getting nearer!

Yet Another Storm in Zagreb City

Well, yet another storm has struck Zagreb city and my balcony garden plants were once again under heavy attack. My plants were tossed all around the balcony and you could find cherry tomatoes all around. Luckily, I managed to save some, but I suspect there are more down in the park, in front of my apartment building. The rain was falling like crazy as you can see from this picture taken from my balcony.

The wind was also blowing like crazy and my tomatoes were once again the once which have gotten it the worse. Here's my balcony garden tomato jungle, all messed up!

Unfortunately, we've lost a considerable amount of fruit(veggies). These are just some of the casualties, at least those I managed to save!

Just a half an hour later the sun was shining, like nothing happened!

I'll be able to estimate he real amount of damage in a couple of days, but for now I can only hope that my plants will recuperate and keep on growing as well as they were. Even though times like these are hard for every gardener, I try not to feel bad. When something like this happens, I just plant some more seeds and instantly I feel a lot better! However, before I do that, I have to take care of my balcony, because it looks like a little swimming pool!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Balcony garden veggies

More and more vegetables from my balcony garden are ripening and getting their true colors. Apart from cherry tomatoes, which have already been harvested for a couple of times, my peppers and Saint Pierre tomatoes are also getting close to their harvest day. Very soon I'll be enjoying more homegrown veggies from my urban balcony garden.

Saint Pierre Tomatoes


Monday, August 6, 2007

Nature in the City

Most of us urban dwellers have to face nature deprived conditions of our everyday city life. Raw concrete jungle is our habitat, but is it natural or can it be, I doubt so. Plants and animals seem to be unwanted guests here, especially if left out of our control. Hmm, is urbanization a concept that rules out natural elements and if so, can it survive as such... Is it possible to bring back or at least save what's left of nature in our cities, it's left to be seen...

Luckily, my home town
and the capital of Croatia, Zagreb still has a few places where you can relax in relatively natural environment. One of those places is a park called Bundek. It's just a ten minute walk from my home, so I go there pretty often. It's great to have a place like this in the middle of concrete jungle, especially when you get tired of everyday city rush. A few years ago, it was a real natural oasis in the middle of Zagreb, but it was rearranged and nature was put under control. Logically, since then, the number of plants and animals has fallen significantly. However, it's still one of the places to visit if you are in Zagreb! Lets take a walk!

Meet the local duck family!

Friday, August 3, 2007

Miniatures on my balcony

Here are a few pictures of miniatures from my balcony garden. My mother likes this kind of stuff and she'll experiment with all kinds of plants in extra small containers. It's mostly a decorative element that catches the eye and makes you put on a smile!

I'll be turning the lights off very soon, so good night to everybody!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Balcony food

They are so tinny, yet delicious!

My balcony cherry tomatoes are so yummy, hmm... I wish you can try this! It's just another Italman's dinner....

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

First Cherry Tomato Harvest

Yes indeed, it's a tomato celebration day! My urban balcony garden is rewarding us on a daily basis, but these are my first vegetables harvested this year. Unfortunately, we've had some bad weather lately and we've a lost a significant amount of fruit.

However, it was a sweet harvest! It feels great to produce your own homegrown organic veggies in the middle of the city.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Balcony herb garden update No.2

It's time for some herbs! This is a follow up on my balcony herb garden, as the No.2 in post title indicates. To get the whole picture, be sure to check out my Balcony herb garden update No.1!
Sometimes I wonder if I overdid it with the number of plants on my small city balcony, it's really a green jungle within a concrete jungle. Maybe it's just a little bit overcrowded. In fact I even lost a few plants due to lack of space and their stronger neighbors overgrowing them.
I had a great Thyme variety that was shaded by her much bigger neighbors, so it looks pretty much dead right now. This was a classic example of planting without planning, but we live and learn. It was a herb used for many dishes in my kitchen, offering great taste and aroma. Fortunately enough, I have another variety that's growing fine, but again it's not as tasty as the other one was.

Here's just one of three Rosemarie plant varieties I grow
on my balcony, my bushy Lavender plant and some heavily harvested Parsley.

Here's another Rosemary variety guarded by a garden elf.

One more Rosemary plant.



And that's it regarding the herbs on my balcony garden! I think the list is complete, but who knows, maybe I'll be growing even more herbs, even more varieties very soon! Lets hope so!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Balcony Tomato Emergency

Another extremely windy day on my balcony, once again with serious consequences for my balcony plants. Again, mostly because of their height, my balcony tomatoes were the ones most damaged!
I can tell you, it wasn't a pretty sight! My tomatoes were all tangled, the stems and branches were heavily bent and tossed all around. The wind had no mercy for my balcony plants! Here's a picture of my balcony tomatoes that might show you what I'm talking about.

I hurried to save my plants, but most of the damage had already been done. However, I had to help my tomatoes somehow! Italman to the rescue! Considering the jungle they created on my balcony garden, it takes some acrobatic skills to prune, stake and tie them. It's almost impossible for me to approach some branches, but I hope I managed to tie them enough and they won't brake under this sweet weight they're carrying. I even inserted a few additional stakes, but I can't find one tall enough for my crazy growing urban tomatoes.

That's the best I could do, but on a brighter or better said greener side most of my herbs seem to be fine. However, I'll be sure to check out the state of my entire balcony garden(plant by plant) early in the morning! Balcony herb garden update No.2 follows!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Italman's dinner

I went to the marketplace earlier today and bought some lettuce, pepper and chicken breasts.

And here's my dinner!

Balcony herb garden update No.1

As I've said many times before, I really enjoy growing herbs and I can't imagine my balcony garden without them. They keep good company to my veggies and keep my urban home free of flies and mosquitoes. Not to mention the fragrance and the taste...hmmm!! If you love to cook like I do, you'll be sure to find some space for a little herb garden of your own!
You could see from my previous post that my purple basil is growing just fine and is constantly rewarding us with fresh basil leaves. However, I have some additional young basil plants growing in a small container waiting to get transplanted.

I like growing more plants of the same variety, as well as more varieties of the same plant specie. Not only because of a greater harvest, but because that gives me the opportunity to experiment and learn the specific needs of each plant variety I grow. My green basil variety has given us a significant amount of fresh leaves for the past few months. Unfortunately, I don't know the name of the variety in question, but I bought it anyway. The old lady that was selling plants at the local market really seemed to have a green thumb. All of the plants she was offering were looking happy&healthy and she was very kind to share some great gardening tips. When I buy my plants, I tend to do it from local gardeners. There are several reasons I do this, but the most important are supporting the community and creating real human relations. Big up for green thumb granny! Well, back to my basil plants! Here are a few smaller plants that I intentionally left to flower, because I would like to have some seeds of this particular variety for the next year.

Here's another flowering herb from my garden and also a very rewarding one. It's a Mint variety I like to use in some dishes, but it's especially great in all kinds of beverages. It's a pretty invasive plant that tends to fill out your garden space very quickly, but constant pruning&harvesting will keep them in control. Take a close look at these photos, behind my Mint plant and you'll see that there are a lots of other herbs growing in my garden!

Even if you couldn't recognize any of the herbs from my somewhat lousy photos, I'll be posting more on those in my Balcony herb garden update No. 2.! For now, I'd like to show you another Mint variety I grow on my balcony. This plant makes a great tea, of course sweetened with some Stevia Rebaudiana leaves(the second photo)!

Enjoy your herbs!