Broccoli Unpleasantries

This week in the Flog:

  • Tips for germinating seeds
  • Updates from the garden

This week’s status: Broccoli sucks. First I planted it in some beautiful seed trays, didn’t get a thing. Then I got busy with the garden and the Flog and you know, no broccoli.

So this week I came back to it and decided to get out the big guns: paper towels and plates. This is a great trick to get seeds that are a little shy to sprout. Get a couple paper towels, and wet them until they are damp. Get a plate and put one damp paper towel on it. Sprinkle the seeds on, then cover with the other paper towel, that is also damp. Then cover this with a second plate, overturned so it fits on top of the first plate and makes a nice moist damp inner area.

I did this with the broccoli seeds. Now, I’ve done it before with seeds and had amazing results so I expected the same here. This is a great technique if you want to increase the germination rate of your seeds. However not much luck for me this time. I dunno if it’s the seeds, the climate, my clumsiness or what. Here is a shot of the seeds after a few days in the “incubator”.

Germinating Seeds - Part 1

Germinating seeds in a paper towel incubator

Only a couple popped. I have the incubator in the office where I have the A/C on during the day. Temperatures during the day are around 25 Celsius but at night it warms up in there to over 30, that might be the problem. In any case I’ll plant the ones that popped and hopefully get a few sprouts – I’m only looking for a few plants, I don’t have space for more.

Let’s look at the rest of the garden quickly since it’s been awhile and there’s some great stuff going on! First, neat little fly I found, super shiny. I love insects in general so I usually get some pictures when there is an interesting one.

Germinating Seeds - Part 2

Interesting fly. Why are some flies shiny?

Now on to the plants. The watermelons are growing ok. I planted 4 and haven’t culled any yet although I’m not sure the pot can sustain 4 full watermelon plants. We’ll see. Those with sharp eyes will spot a little tomato plant that somehow managed to sneak in there. At least I think it’s a tomato.

Germinating Seeds - Part 3

Watermelon plants looking OK, a little small still but what can you do? Grow and hope for the best.

I moved the watermelon to the other side of the balcony since I think this side gets more light. Here’s a shot of the Rosemary next to it. I’ve been following the “no-love” approach with the rosemary and it’s worked great. When I first got it, it was infested with spidermites. It seems to be doing much better after some sprays with BIM+Neem and no other love.

Germinating Seeds - Part 4

Rosemary plant growing in the tropics, in very indirect sunlight. I’m surprised it’s doing ok.

The calamansi tree. As some will recall, I sprayed it with Calphos+Bloom fertilizer some weeks back. Well shortly after that it dropped it’s young fruit, and many leaves as well! I thought it was the mix that I sprayed on it so I was a little disappointed. Then I realized the cover I built for the A/C exhaust had come off around the same time, and the A/C exhaust was blowing behind the bench and up the side of the plant. Temperature fluctuations cause citrus to drop leaves. I got the A/C cover fixed and voila! New buds, new leaves, looking sharp again. Phew!

Germinating Seeds - Part 5

Calamansi tree with fresh leaves and fruit

The cucumbers are absolute monsters! Low light, high heat, doesn’t even phase them apparently. They’ve grown to the top of the trellis and I have them running along the top. The suckers (gardening term for growth starting from where leaf stem meets trunk of plant) are starting to grow out all directions as well, I’m going to have to prune I think. I just want them to go into bloom already! This could be a problem as they might not want to bloom without full sun. Hopefully I can convince them.

Germinating Seeds - Part 6

The cucumber have already grown up the trellis and are making their way across. I hope they fruit soon…

Carrots and onions. Looking ok, growing along slow and steady. I haven’t monitored these much, the ground stays moist for long periods because they’re still small plants, not taking much water yet.

Germinating Seeds - Part 7

The carrots and onions are practicing the “slow and steady” growing technique

Lettuce and spinach. I’m so happy with these! They are not growing super fast, and I need to cull them a bit because they’re crowded and double+ planted, but they are doing ok! Really happy these didn’t just croak when I transplanted them into the garden. Ha ha.

Germinating Seeds - Part 8

Yay lettuce and spinach! They look delicious!

Planter #4: this planter is pathetic. It’s in deep shade and not doing much. I sowed lettuce/spinach seeds direct to this planter about a week after I transplanted the lettuce/spinach into the other planter. As you can see they are tall, spindly, and not growing very quickly. I’m not gonna worry about these, they will do something or not. I’m toying with the idea of getting some long fluorescents and attaching them to the front of the planter above. That would certainly work but it’s a little extreme. I’ll likely just transplant taller plants into there later on. Maybe cuttings of the tomatoes and peppers. In their place I’ll plant lettuce/spinach in the top planter. A little switcheroo. We’ll see.

Germinating Seeds - Part 9

The fourth planter. Meant to be another set of lettuce and spinach, it is just too shady. I will plant some tall stuff here and move lettuce/spinach to planter above next.

And last but not least, the tomatoes, peppers, and eggplant. These are all doing ok! As you can see, they are all stretching a bit but what can you do – low light is just a factor with this balcony. I’m pretty pleased with how they are coming along. I’ve been thinning as they get bigger, probably need to do another round of thinning already. When I take out plants, I simply pull them up or cut at the base, and then lay the plant on the soil. It’s good food for the soil, no sense wasting it.

Germinating Seeds - Part 10

This planter is doing great! Even though it doesn’t get any direct sunlight, the plants are growing ok.

Addendum: super hot peppers and cantaloupe. I was given 3 pepper plants for free a while back from the great lady I bought seeds from (she’s a pepper nut). They are super hot varieties – Bhut cross, 007, Naga cross. After transplanting they didn’t do much for quite a while – she grows hydroponic and I think the transition was a shocker, ha. But they have new growth now and are starting to look good! I also filled the final pot! With cantaloupe sprouts. They are just starting to grow again after transplanting.

Germinating Seeds - Part 11

Some of the hottest pepper species in the world….and cantaloupe.

Phew! Covering the garden is starting to become a long story. This will be one of the last full updates on the balcony garden – it’s just too long and flat. But I’m so happy with the garden, it’s so much fun to be growing veggies again. If you are toying with the idea of planting some crops, whatever they are, just do it! It’s an incredibly rewarding experience. Especially when you get to eat them!

  • Annie

    You have the heart to thin them out? I just can’t bring myself to do that, so I plant only a few seeds. Yeah I know, I am a lily livered coward

    • Patrick

      Haha ya it’s kinda tough actually I don’t like thinning either I just like seeing everything grow up.. Which is why I usually thin a little later than I should have :p

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