Tomatoes in the balcony garden

I’m back from Sweden! But fear not, I didn’t abandon the world of gardening to have a holiday. Quite the opposite. My hosts/carers/unfortunates on whom I foist myself own an allotment. It is beautiful. Look at it.

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Digging potatoes was my favourite thing to do, perhaps because of my ‘special and maybe a bit unhealthy relationship with potatoes’. Here’s my feet merrily swinging by some potatoes.

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I did other stuff in Sweden too. I didn’t only toil, I ate lots of cake. We also went off to a Viking museum – Vikings being another of my very specific interests – and lo and behold, they had Viking allotments!

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Or Norse allotments, I suppose I should say, since the farmers back then weren’t strictly Vikings. Vikings were just the ones who went on raids. It’d be cool if I could make similar borders around my raised beds.

In terms of my own, still-potential allotment, I’ve still not officially signed anything because the council were clearing the overgrown area while I was away. I’m going to swing by and take an unofficial look tomorrow just to get an idea of what it’s like (I’ll have an ‘official’ viewing with the man from the council too, but I’m overcautious and want to make sure the soil looks diggable before I commit to anything). I hope it is diggable, because this blog might become quiet if I have to turn the allotment down.

Or will it? I left my balcony garden in the hands of some kind friends, who did an excellent job of looking after it. Everything’s grown so much in two weeks! I started off today by harvesting the potatoes in my two remaining growbags.

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You’ll perceive, of course, that I now have a stylish new allotment cup. I’ve been on the hunt for a coffee cup that wouldn’t shatter if I dropped it, making it suitable for the rough and tumble world of gardening. Being a woman of great style, I had to go all the way over to Malmö to get one.

The potato harvest will be enough for a few meals at least (there’s more than is pictured above). Some things I’ve learned: I was a bit overenthusiastic in planting so many seed potatoes in each growbag (6-7 per bag, layered), and also in harvesting one of the bags so early (roughly three weeks ago, having planted the chitted seed potatoes in…late February? I think?). A lot of the potatoes I harvested then were TEENY. However, it worked well to cut back the plants and leave the potatoes in the ground for a couple of weeks, as it made the skins noticeably tougher.

I’m hoping to plant some winter potatoes in September to have them by Christmas. I’ve really enjoyed growing potatoes in bags. They took up a fair amount of space on the balcony, it’s true, but they were easy to grow, happily ate up the fertiliser I gave them (mostly coffee grounds), AND today my evening meal looked like this:

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I’ve changed things around quite a bit in terms of the rest of the balcony. Two of the potato growbags are still sitting there filled with soil, and I’ll be adding compost until I can think of a better use for them. I’ve put the other one away, and with the extra space, I’ve put out two tomato growbags.

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(in the foreground, to the right)

The tomatoes are a bit of a ragtag bunch of varieties I’ve grown from seed or rescued as ‘wilty’ stock from Wilkos. I’ve got some more in a hanging planter, and they’re a bit older. I’m hoping to have actual edible tomatoes from them soon:

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The largest cauliflower, too, has developed an interesting addition!

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I think that’s what cauliflowers are meant to do! I’ve gathered up the leaves and tied them to protect the head from the sun, as the books recommend, although there’s not a huge amount of sun to protect it from. I’ve added a lot of fresh soil to this particular growbag, which I hope will make the plant perk up a bit.

A lot of the aubergine plants (I fear I have more than 15) and some squash plants (3 or 4) are still growing strong. I also accidentally bought a small olive bush and a blueberry bush from Wilkos today, reduced down to £1.50 each from about £6 because they were ‘wilting’, but I’m sure I can nurse them back to health. If not, it’s not the end of the world.

I’m feeling a bit nervous about peeking at the allotment tomorrow. I’ll be disappointed if it’s still overgrown or hasn’t been tilled, even though I’ve been told it will have been so I’m getting nervous over quite a small issue. Ah well. Even if it’s no good, I still have the balcony! It’s taken from September 2013, but I’m finally growing stuff on it that I can actually eat! It’s a nice feeling.

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