I quickly popped out to the balcony today after my driving lesson, the terror of which I’m trying to repress (I can trust myself with tiny delicate seedlings, but a tonne of terrifying metal? No chance). Noticed that three of the aubergines needed repotting, so thought I might as well do that straightaway.
Then I decided, for ‘fun’ (we often have to make our own entertainment in Northumberland), to count the number of aubergine plants I actually have up on the balcony. I knew it was a lot, because I’m so soft that I can’t bear to do the ‘two seedlings to a pot, only the strongest is allowed to grow on’ method of growing. I feel bad for the weaker one and want to give it a chance. Although I suppose this is between me and my therapist.
I found out I have 25 aubergine plants, from those just beginning to produce fruit, to smaller seedlings in the mini greenhouse. This was considerably more than I’d expected, especially as I’ve previously given around 4 away.
Rather than calling the aforementioned (and currently fictional) therapist, I decided to make a list of everything I’ve got on the balcony at the moment. This will help me either a) Realise that things have gone a bit far and encourage me to get a new hobby or b) Plan out what I can do next season.
Aubergines x 25, 24 of which ‘Ivory‘ variety, 1 of which ‘Black Beauty‘ variety. Mostly in individual pots, some in growbags. A few in the greenhouse.
Tomatoes x 10, all kinds of varieties, although generally cherry, and nothing too novel. 6 in two growbags, 4 in a hanging planter.
Loganberry x 1, bought from Morrisons but seems to be thriving currently. Thought I spotted some of its relatives growing wild nearby. Interested to note that a place close to where I grew up was a large producer of loganberries for the British navy.
Blueberry x 2, two different varieties to try and get cross-pollination, although I couldn’t say which varieties. One’s produced a bit of edible fruit recently.
Raspberry x 1, not doing much right now, but nor would I expect it to.
Strawberry x 12, some in hanging planters, others in a kind of tower. The ones in hanging planters are doing much better and produce occasional fruit. Mixed varieties, including ‘wild’ strawberries (because it reminds me of happy holidays in Sweden).
Blackberry x 1, a thornless variety I brought back with me on the train after visiting my family. Train journey took around 7 hours, but I make sure the plant was safe on the seat next to me.
The herb sack, containing rocket, mint, parsley, and mizuna.
Leeks x 3, proving really tricky to grow under balcony conditions and rather wilty.
Spring onions, many seedlings, not sure if any will survive.
Radishes x 10, bought from the Roots and Shoots Garden, of which I’m a big fan. They’ve flowered, which means they’ve ‘bolted‘ and probably won’t be edible, but I’m not too upset because the flowers are lovely and attract bees.
The sweet peas, impossible to say how many individual plants, as it’s all kind of grown together in a lovely tangle.
Unidentified blue flowers I rescued from Morrisons, just one survivor, but looking very pretty.
Snapdragon x 12, some of which snap, others a different variety that cannot snap, all yellow.
Heather x 1, bought from a supplier at the local market. The heather’s really not well, I have to admit. I’ve had it over a year and I think it’s either already dead or unlikely to survive. I don’t know how I’ve managed to kill heather. It’s sad, because I’ve always loved heather despite not really being a ‘flower person’.
Melon x 1, another purchase from the Roots and Shoots Garden, slowly growing up the railings of my balcony. I really doubt I’ll get anything edible from it, but it can’t hurt to try.
Cucumber x 6, two bought as young plants from Homebase, now grown really quickly and producing edible cucumbers. The rest are still seedlings which will be staying in the greenhouse. I’ve really enjoyed growing cucumbers.
Squash x 4, butterbush variety. After a shaky start, three of these are doing really well. The remaining one has quite stunted growth, don’t have the heart to ‘recycle’ it.
Rose x 1, a rescue from Wilkos for 50p – showed some signs of rallying in spring, but I’m not optimistic for it now.
Olive bush x 1, one of my sillier purchases because I live in Northumberland rather than Greece, but it was only 50p from Wilkos and I couldn’t resist. It doesn’t look unhappy at the moment. Will do my best for it.
Chilli x 1, from a rescue of 6 plug plants from Wilkos, 10p for the lot. None of the others survived, but this one’s thriving in the greenhouse. It’s flowered so chillies will hopefully soon follow.
Hebe x 1, unsure which variety, but with purple flowers. Bought from Sainsburys on a lunch break when I was having a bad day. I was worried about this plant – the leaves appeared burnt, but I moved it to a less windy spot and it’s a much happier plant now.
Assorted mystery seeds, ones that can’t be any of the plants mentioned above. My fault because I get lazy when it comes to labelling plants. Mostly live in the greenhouse. Will have to wait and see what they turn into!
The ground floor
Carlingford potatoes, x 10 tubers, happily growing in their bags, or so I hope. It’s a fantastic novelty that I can move them out from under the balcony if it’s raining, so I don’t need to set up my spike bottle system.
I think that’s how things stand at the moment. I will bore you with my Grand Plan for my Balcony Garden of the Future at a later date. But WHAT, I hear you cry, do I get out of all these plants?
I made this salad at the weekend, and I’m not going to lie – most of it was not homegrown. The cucumber and the herbs were, but that was about it. I did a little ‘harvest’ on the Saturday, and what I picked was hardly enough to fill a cereal bowl. BUT STILL. The salad was delicious, even if I did not grow it all, because I grew some of it. And even if I’m only growing enough food for the odd snack here and there, I’m reaping the rewards in terms of well-being. OK, it COULD be argued (and is) that I’m a bit too enthusiastic, but the sense of happiness and achievement when you’ve tasted the first strawberry you’ve grown this year is fantastic.