You are what you eat, but you can also eat what you sow
…even if it’s on the 14th floor of an apartment in the middle of Sydney.
Having now been to three balcony gardening forums and workshops put on by the City of Sydney as part of their Green Villages initiative, I’ve caught the edible balcony gardening bug! The workshops have not only been inspiring and entertaining, but really useful too. I’ve gotten free plants, a worm farm so I can produce free organic fertiliser and reduce waste going to landfill, and lots of precious precious advice and tips from experienced gardeners who don’t use too much jargon! All this with no car (the worm farm was a bit of a workout to carry on the train… but then I’ve not set foot in a gym since high school, so it’s probably good for me).
mint coming back to life after I let it go too wild
So what’s growing? Basil, thyme, red mustard (for salad), rosemary, oregano, lavender, daphne, sweet jasmine, chives, dill, spring onion (just lop off the root ends of the ones you buy and stick em in soil!), mint, a dianella (courtesy of these guys), lilly pilly, and, less successfully, radishes and lettuce (nobody’s perfect!) in my second worm farm tray that’s not ready for use yet (not all pictured). I’ve still got plenty of glass space to fill and I’m thinking of starting a vertical pallet garden as well. When I heard Indira Naidoo, inspirational author and amazing person overall, was thinking of getting some Japanese quail, I must admit I got very excited! I’m also keen to get a small pond, as Cecilia Macaulay of Balcony Garden Dreaming suggests – not just for aesthetic value, but because I’d love to start growing lotus, and have a nearby water source (given that we have no hose or outside water source).
Since I’ve been trying to keep my balcony “garden” cheap, I’ve also repurposed a lot of food containers as my drip trays, which make watering easy and also hold my pots up well. All you need is a single-hole-punch and some garden twine, and you’re good to go. In the top picture I’ve even tied half a strawberry container over my dill seedlings I’m trying to grow, so that they don’t dry out so much (important, since our balcony is very windy a lot of the time!). Inside, I’m growing chilli and dill from seed in egg cartons, which were thoroughly wetted and wrapped in old bubble wrap (the ends are open to let air through). The egg carton “cells” will be planted straight into the ground, where the cardboard will break down. The bubble wrap helps things stay moist so I don’t have to keep watering, and also help keep things warm to promote growth.
…and I promise the next post will be a recipe. I just happen to be having more fun getting my hands into soil at the moment :) Let me know if you have any tips – I have a west facing, windy balcony, although it’s starting to get about 6 hours of sun now…maybe I’ll try some tomatoes and lime…!