Balcony Garden Update

This week in the Flog:

  • A look back
  • The latest garden photos

It’s been a great adventure so far on the balcony garden. There have successes and failures of epic proportions.

I’m kinda amazed at how much I’ve been able to grow in those little planters. I haven’t ever used traditional fertilizer, and I’ve cut back monster plants any number of times. Every time I cut them back, they come back just as big and strong, it’s impressive.

I’m also impressed with how voracious the insects are. There have been whitefly hordes, spider mite invasions, broad mite infestations and even aphid attacks. Whole sections of the garden have succumbed to the onslaught! I’ve managed to keep a light attitude about all that and even had fun creating a homemade pesticide spray (still under development).

Anyway, we’ve come a long way with the garden. I mean, it was a bare balcony before this project. Take a look at this pic (sad I donโ€™t have one from before the project got started, this is the earliest picture, partway through the planter build):

Balcony Garden Planters

The bare balcony as I was building the planters

In a very short time I had planters built and had made some awesome goldilocks soil from scratch.

Planter Boxes

Completed planters with soil in them ready to plant

Then came the plants. There were some hiccups, even an aerial invasion, but some plants survived and thrived..and after a little while I had a thriving productive balcony!

Balcony Vegetable Garden

The garden looking lush and green, growing nicely

I brought in fresh veggies for the family and managed to improve my poor diet with regular additions of green salad at the dinner table.

Vegetable Salad

Lots of delicious salads like this one came out of the garden last year – yum!

What a journey! I feel like itโ€™s a journey because that’s how a garden feels. It is a living thing that starts as pretty much nothing, like my balcony garden started. It grows and changes and after awhile it looks nothing like how it started. All the while you are there taking care of it, so that you don’t really notice how much it’s changed until you take a minute to think back to the early days. Then you realize, look at all I’ve experienced, how far I’ve come thanks to or in concert with, my little garden. That’s how life goes….See there is a place for nostalgia in the garden, not just philosophy.

After that look back, lets look at the garden today. I planted a new crop of veggies for “Mission Salad 2014”. They are growing well since the balcony finally gets direct sunlight for a few hours a day! I planted lettuce, arugula, pechay (Chinese cabbage), kailan (Chinese broccoli), upland kangkong (water spinach), etc. All salad veggies so we can get some nice salads going. Here are a few highlights:

The kangkong is growing nicely, in my dense planting:

Vegetable Garden - Spinach

This kangkong is growing really well, I harvest from it about once a week

The beans are also growing well, I get a fresh crop of pods every few days:

Garden Vegetables - Beans

These are extremely productive bean plants, I get from them every week or so

The Calamansi is growing really well and producing little Calamansi limes:

Calamansi Tree

This guy is growing well and producing fruits now

The mustard, pechay, and kailan are growing really well in a dense planting also:

Vegetables - Mustard and Spinach

This densely planted row produces tons of salad greens – more than we can eat!

My pepper plants, although very sad looking, are still producing crops of peppers close to a year after planting:

Hot Peppers

Although sad looking, these pepper plants are consistently producing peppers

And finally, my single mature arugula plant. I love this thing. It produces so many leaves at a time I can get a whole salad off it each time. I just rip the leaves off, and it grows a new crop each week. It’s a really nice treat to have fresh arugula each week.

Vegetables - Arugula

This old arugula plant just keeps on producing. I cut it back for salad greens and it puts ’em out again. I love it.

So the overall garden is looking great these days. It just gets water still most of the time. Periodically I add a little homemade fish fertilizer to the water. For the blooming plants like the peas, I add a little homemade bloom fertilizer. And everything is doing really well! I’m amazed at the growing capacity of this simple garden soil I made almost a year ago now.

Balcony Garden - Complete

The overall garden looks great and is producing really well – I’m so happy with it

Well I know it’s winter in many parts of the world now, that sun and plants must look pretty good these days. Remember you can always buy some lights and grow indoors! Even on my balcony, there is a corner of deep shade right where Opi lives, I had to add lights there so that he’d have some great greens to feed on. He loves it as you can tell in the pic (see the smile? Haha)..

Vegetable patch - Opi

My little bearded dragon loves the veggie patch I made for him – chomp chomp

Thanks everyone for tuning in on the Flog each week. It’s pretty neat to see in this letter how far it’s come.

Keep on growing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Wow, I’m inspired to try something like this as well as a few new vegetables. It’s winter in my neck of New England. I have pepper and tomato plants overwintering inside. I had lots of aphids for awhile and needed to wash the plants weekly. Then I thought to feed them with a seaweed, seawater dilution, a little calcium and a tea made from parsley and banana peels for potassium. It worked like a charm. No more aphids and lots of peppers!

    • Patrick

      Wow that is awesome! I’ve tried all kinds of stuff on the mites, the mitey spray worked the best, it has been OK so far in battling those little beasts. I like your recipe though that looks great for flowering.

  • Cora

    Nice edible garden you have! Aphids is a problem in Manila. I’ve tried all sorts of solutions too. Now, I’m trying companion planting. I placed my thai basil beside my pepper plant which aphids are beginning to infest. They disappeared ! Now, I’m trying to see if they will get off my dill. They say marigold is a good companion plant too.

    • Patrick

      Thanks Cora! Yeah I started companion planting too, the pests here in Manila can be pretty problematic! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Lexter

    I used to have my garden when I was in the province but when I went to Manila to study,i had no chance to pursue my love for gardening.But now that I am renting my own place and i have a balcony,i have started to plant veggies like tomatoe,kang kong,belle pepper in pots..but seeing your improvised wooden garden inspired me to have the same.Thank you for the idea.I will definitely do the same.Im excited.thanks.

    • Patrick

      Great! That should be awesome! You can see how it was made in this post on making balcony planters.

      Thanks for reading,

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