Winged Monsters Cometh

Another week on the Flog! Hope you’re enjoying the updates from this balcony garden project. It has now been around 2 weeks since I planted the seeds, and the sprouts look great.

I was given a gift of 3 hot pepper plants this week so that was pretty cool – they are all hot varieties, including a Bhut hybrid. Can’t wait to see how they turn out. The seed tray got a little crowded, the cucumber was probably left too long but oh well. Check out the state of the seed tray:

The seed tray ready for transplanting

Sadly still no sign of the broccoli or the parsley. I might have to try some more seeds of those. However the Labuyo seeds that were moldy have pretty much ALL sprung up, so I have way too many of those.

The cucumbers are stretching towards the window and have their first true leaves already:

Cucumbers overdue for transplant to the garden

The dill and basil are looking pretty good and they will go into the garden also:

Dill and basil plants looking great!

Pulling the seedlings out, you can see the roots looking for more room. The cucumber have circled several times – a sign they were left in a little too long. The tomatoes have just reached the sides and started to curl around – that is about the right timing to go into the garden.

Looking at the roots before transplanting to the balcony garden

I transplanted most of the seedlings from the tray this week. I kinda wish I had more tray space so there wouldn’t be so many seedlings per slot. It’s a hassle separating them and it stresses the plants. I guess it’s “survival of the fittest” in Patrick’s Garden.

Here’s a big advantage to using a loose, homemade soilless seedling mixture. The loose medium washes off with almost no effort, minimizing damage to the roots.

Simply dip the roots in a bucket of water and the medium just sinks leaving only the roots. Makes getting bare root transplants super easy and a little less painful for the plants. Note, if you are using mycorrhizae this might be tougher – the soil might not fall off so easily and for sure the fungal hyphae will be damaged. That’s part of the reason I wait to inoculate with mycorrhizae until they are in the garden. I just gently separated the plants with soil (shown left) of some transplants, and bared the roots (shown right) of the others, as you can see in these two pictures:

Two different ways of transplanting – bare root and root ball.

To encourage more root growth and help keep the plants sturdy, I buried them a little deep when transplanting. Here is a bare-root cucumber transplant going in. The hole is much deeper than the stem so the roots can go down without bending. This is a great trick when you have spindly seedlings like mine, especially with plants that easily root like cucumbers – bury them a little up the stem, and roots will pop out in the covered areas. The plant will also be a little more sturdy. Like this:

Burying part of the stem of this spindly seedling

I got Planter #1 planted as well as the cucumbers in Planter #2. Too bad the broccoli isn’t up yet!!

2 of the 5 planter boxes planted!

And finally. The reason for the title. I planted these beautiful seedlings yesterday, excited to see them flourish and enrich my diet with their bounty…only to discover this morning, devastation in the planter boxes! Seedlings chopped, their leaves lying on the ground beside them, like a bunch of beheaded combatants on a battlefield. Nothing eaten, only rampant devastation.

And amongst it all, tell-tale droppings from the winged beasts that wraught it. Those f#*%ing birds! I wanted to kill them all this morning, it’s so frustrating to find that! Not a Basil top left on. The stupid birds come and investigate and just top them and then bugger off. I wouldn’t even be so pissed if they ATE the things, but just to top them and leave……

Uff anyway I have a battlefield picture with an inset of the culprit but it didn’t quite capture the look so I drew it to make it clearer for those reading:

Savagery in the planter boxes, and the beast responsible

Damn eurasian tree sparrows.

I got a net today and spread it over the planter boxes so the remaining seedlings are ok. The basil got hit hardest, there are still some survivors of the other plants. I guess I’ll just direct sow the basil replacements.

R.I.P. mr purple basil and his brothers.

Pest problems anyone? Didn’t you just want to destroy them all?? I bet. Me too… How bad was it? I’m curious what other issues people have encountered on their farms. I bet you guys with “real” farms have had much worse than mine so I shouldn’t curse the little monsters too much I guess…

See you all next week when hopefully I’ll have the remaining planters planted. A full garden, woohoo!

  • Jose

    How disappointing, losing your basil through one pesky bird but it is all learning, good to know what pests to beware of at different times. Don’t give up on your parsley yet, mine always takes 3-4 weeks to germinate here in Tasmania. Success with your next basil seeds. Jose.

    • Patrick

      Thanks Jose! I’ll keep that in mind regarding the parsley I was a little disappointed not to see them up yet.

      Yep, lesson learned with the birds. I guess better to learn it now and have a net up before there is fruit to be ravaged!


  • matt

    Rabbits destroyed our peppers this year, and squirrels got past our netting into the strawberry patch…ERRRR

    What purpose do the rocks have in the planters? Decor?

    Matt and Emily

    • Patrick

      Hi Matt and Emily,

      Welcome to the FLOG! Yeah isn’t that frustrating when nature takes its course on your garden. I mean a course you don’t want it to haha.

      Yeahhhh you weren’t the only one to ask the purpose of the rocks. Actually I had them around from another project and I just put them in there when planting to separate the different crops and help gauge spacing. I suppose they work for decor also.

      Thanks for joining us on the flog!

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