Friday, 22 December 2017

Summer blooms

Almost Christmas and our little garden is overflowing with growth, making it hard to get around some areas and even pick produce.

Can't really complain though, and lessons learned for the planning next year.

First off though, I thought I'd start by showing off the flowers we're growing this year which are now all in bloom.

Nasturtiums in four colours, yellow, red, peach and a bit of a ratty looking orange.

After a very long wait, the poppies finally bloomed. They're beautiful, but a little miffed that the two plants have the same flowers.

Cornflower - a huge favourite with both the stingless native and European bees.


Salvia, as you can see, loved by our favourite visitor, the blue banded bees.

Not really a flower, but coriander. This is the "slow bolt" variety so I'm collecting seeds from it.

Another bee favourite, borage.

Cockcockle, I think it's called "Ocean pearl".

White alyssum.

Various zinnias. We got three colours, purple, yellow and orange. Red seemed to miss out unfortunately.

Now onto how everything else is going.

Determined to have lettuce in summer, this mignonette variety is growing in a part-sun spot under 50% shade cloth. So far so good.

Dragon's tongue bush beans in this whiskey barrel. I will have to move this barrel when we are having the complex painted in Feb, hence why I am not growing any climbers in it.

Looks great, but boxed myself in a little and will probably have to relocate at least the tomato, which is shading the corn in the trough and making it hard to pick cucumbers/beans from behind. Next year I will only grow compact plants in this row of pots in front of the troughs.

Crookneck squash and swiss chard. The chard is looking like it might do well being moved to a morning-sun only spot. I have harvested a few crookneck squash but the female flowers have stopped for the moment, hopefully we get more as they are delicious.

This is the dumpling squash in a pot, with a huge one at the bottom.

Mints doing great now they are getting more sun.

Garlic chives are about to flower, the regular chives have sent up a few new flower spikes too.

Malabar spinach, taking a while to get established but now looking better. You can see many pods on the bolted "champion" radish and I have been eating some of the pods fresh too, delicious.

The buk choy germinated, we'll see if they grow much before bolting. The kale has regrown really well but unfortunately the cabbage butterflies are still managing to get to it. I might have to get out the BT, probably not a bad idea for the tomatoes too.

Despite lagging behind the others the Tigerella tomato is now looking great, and have a few fruit just starting to ripen at the bottom. No ripe tomatoes by Christmas this year though! I put it down to some setbacks with the germination / potting up, and a very mild, overcast spring.

Here's the main bed in full bloom. As great as they are in bringing in the bees I will probably grow a few less borage plants next year as they have shaded some of the other plants (like the eggplant) causing them to lag behind.

The two Florida F1 dwarf tomatoes. I can't see any more flowers on them so they are hopefully done producing new fruit (they are determinate) so we just need to wait for the existing fruit to ripen.

Front window pot lineup. I like the layout I devised this year with 4 40L at the back and 4 25L in front, think next year I'll put the tomatoes both in the back alternating with the citrus trees.

I had originally been rotating the pots each week but it's not practical anymore now they have so much foliage, but I think I've already done a pretty good job of preventing them leaning towards the sun.

The "blueberry" tomato - I'm sceptical and wondering if I've been dudded again by an eBay seller. We'll wait and see how they ripen though.

The lime continues to produce new blossoms.

Baby lemons. I am hoping for another round of flowering this season from the Meyer.

Potatoes in the back will be ready to harvest soon. I am thinking of starting another bag of them to put here when they are done as there is still time in the season. Need a good late variety.

Blueberry plant has recovered very well. I will need to give it a light prune end of season to remove some crossing branches though.

Three capsicum varieties in the main bed, all with tiny fruit.

Three of the four tomato varieties in the main bed. The plant grown from the current sized tomato seeds I saved seem to be producing regular cherry sized tomatoes, so it was probably a hybrid.

Zucchini (greenskin) doing well.

The two corn that germinated are nearly ready, I am hoping they get adequate pollination (I have shaken the stalks a few times to help). They're different heights so I think one is the "Max" and the other is the "Bicolour" but we'll wait and see. 

Assassin bug on the corn silk.

Going to get some new strawberries from the volunteer pot. These guys will be transplanted in the larger trough end of season.

The strawberries in the raspberry bed are looking healthy and have sent out new flowers, so fingers crossed these taste better than the previous round of strawberries. If not they'll be getting replaced.


Raspberries have done great this year. For the last few weeks harvesting a punnet every other day or so. Only problems have been some very cute but very naughty tiny green silvereyes (I originally thought they were finches) that keep figuring out ways into the net, but at least they only eat a small amount of the fruit. I've noticed some bullants, but they don't seem to be harming the fruit this year.

Pest wise in general until today, it hasn't been too bad. The tiny black ladybugs have kept the spider mites well in check. Aphid and whitefly infestations were only very minor and have probably been taken care of by ladybirds and hoverfly larvae (the minute two spotted ladybird has made a welcome return this year).

I have however just noticed that the medium sized black ant that plagued me last year is back in force. There were few here and there earlier in the season but suddenly, this morning, they're on everything, including on the balcony. A bit of a worry but we'll see what happens. I still am not sure what they are called, but they particularly go after flowers (often keeping bees away) and ripe fruit. I wish I knew where their nest was.

These Hungarian wax chillis are doing okay in this afternoon sun spot. I did end up purchasing them as the other ones were taking forever to germinate. They're nice and compact though so a good candidate for the balcony.

Lebanese cucumber.

Some of the immature capsicums, anaheim, marconi, bullshorn.

The "stunted" bed is looking better thanks to regular liquid feeds. I am just hoping the stunting is not due to tree root invasion.

The other small bed is exploding with growth. Eggplant looks fantastic, will need to stake it soon. Going to transplant some more golden Detroit beetroot to that little bare patch in front of it.

Jalapenos galore on this second year plant receiving full sun. None ripe yet though, and some funny, round shapes on some of the early fruit to set. I'm sure they will taste great though.

Kiwano looking healthy, will probably not flower for a while though.

Still need to repot most of these with new potting mix. It's looking more and more like I'm not going to do that until next spring. Lazy bugger.

Shallots are just about ready. Spring onions are doing really well. In another experiment with shade cloth, I am trying to grow both pak choy and green/red cos lettuce from seed in these pots covered with shade cloth.

Basil plant doing nicely.

This volunteer dill I'm letting flower, to produce more volunteer dill. Always fun having a few reliable volunteer plants that pop up every year.

This is a pink flowered strawberry I plan to propagate and replace the existing strawberries in the two balcony troughs.

Up on the balcony, let's look at the chillis, now receiving just a few hours of late afternoon sun.

Shisito one. Lots of flowers, hoping for good things.

Anaheim. Had blossom drop so far but I'm hoping they set fruit from here. I am thinking unless I try pruning it early, this is not really a suitable variety for growing up here.

Second year Jalapeno, not doing too bad.

Third year razzmatazz, probably going to give me the first ripe fruit of the season.

Some fruit set on this strange seedless short cayenne style chilli. I won't be keeping it another year most likely.

Also some fruit set on this second shisito.

As we get into late summer and autumn, these guys will start getting more and more sun, and that's when I tend to get rewarded for my patience with lots of fruit. I've considered building some kind of platform to put them out on the rail to get more sun but I think it's better for the moment just to work with what we have. If we were NE facing rather than NW that would have been ideal, but unfortunately not able to change that. The tradeoff is that the balcony gets lots of sun in the cooler months.

Have a great Christmas, next update will be in 2018 hopefully with some tomato and capsicum harvests.