Sunday, July 31, 2016

Fresh Tomatoes from My Balcony Garden

The tomatoes from my balcony garden
I have a small balcony space and a brown thumb.  In addition to those problems, this season has been very busy for me and I've neglected my plants. Despite the neglect, I have a few, small, ripe tomatoes that will be going into a smoothie today.  If you think you can't grow your own plants, maybe this will help convince you otherwise

My Tomatoes on a Balcony

I'm not good with plants. My adult children hear about my latest plant purchase and joke about "how long until you kill it?". If I had more than two children, they would probably form betting pools about how long it will take for me to kill the plant.  But for some reason, tomatoes love my balcony.

This year, I have been especially busy and my plants - even my tomatoes - are neglected.  I coax them back from dehydration each week or so. As a result, the tomatoes I've picked are small. They are a bit larger than cherry tomato size when they should be plum size.  I tried one last night and the skin is a bit tougher than usual, but what can I expect when they've lived through almost weekly droughts? The taste was still far better than the tomatoes I purchase in a grocery.

These tomatoes are from plants that were from seeds that I started inside. When I am organized, I use an old, large fish aquarium for a "greenhouse".  After the starts were large enough to go outside, I transplanted them and took them outside.  Due to my lack of organization, I can only guess that they were seeds saved from a Bonnie Plant tomato plant - before I knew about the difference between hybrids and heirlooms.

My heirloom Red Siberian pole tomato plant is surviving the droughts better than my other tomatoes. However, I was really late starting those three seeds.  That plant is just putting on blooms. I'll have to update again when I have ripe tomatoes from it. Provided I don't neglect it to death in the meantime.

If you believe you can't grow something on your balcony, give it a try.  Some plants will respond to your space, light, and level of care (or in my case the lack of care) better than others.  You might surprise yourself and be able to produce enough for a meal or two.


Lovely green Red Siberian pole tomatoes. Growing in spite of the extreme heat and my continued neglect

Sunday, July 3, 2016

4th of July Budget Balcony Decor

"Liberty" garden flag
The 4th of July is my favorite holiday and seeing balconies tastefully decorated for Independence Day brings me great enjoyment. The best thing about decorating a balcony is that the area is small and can be personalized and decorated inexpensively. Just a few items can bring patriotic celebration to your outdoor living area.

No matter how you celebrate the 4th, I wish you a happy, safe, and wonderfully independent day.

Nature's Red, White, and Blue Blooms

Healthy plants and flowers are always my favorite decorating idea.  Truly blue flowers are not the easiest to find. However, I have discovered that Wave Petunias come in shades close to blue.  I had not paid attention to Wave Petunias prior to this year but have discovered that they are an amazingly beautiful and hardy choice for a balcony. The continuous blooms on my balcony are a treat this year.

A mixture of these red, white, and blue petunias would be great arranged together in a single hanging basket or together in a large planter. Or each color in a separate small planter but arranged next to each other on a shelf.  Start the plants early enough, and by July 4th, they would be cascading over the rail. Wouldn't that be pretty?

Had I planned ahead, and I will do so next year, a basket of red, white, and blue Wave Petunias would be an excellent way to display red, white & blue.

If you are not able to find wave petunias locally, you use the "store locator" on the Wave Petunia site or you can choose this Wave the Flag pelleted seed assortment from U.S Seal

Easy Wave the Flag mix by US Seal

Small Patriotic Garden Flags 

I have used small garden flags on my balcony for years.  I typically have one planter large enough to hold the small flag stand. I have found that 12 x 18 inch garden flags are a perfect size for a balcony garden.  If high winds are a problem on your balcony, typically not on mine but is occasionally a concern, the garden stake can benefit from additional support. A simple zip tie can be used to attach the garden stake to the railing and provide more than adequate support.

The best thing about small garden flags is that they can be changed with each holiday, season, or your mood.  Garden flags can add such a personal touch to your balcony.

Applique Patriotic Garden Flag

Toland Home Garden Welcome Flag

Outdoor Red, White & Blue Lighting

I love just a bit of lighting on my balcony. I prefer privacy from the neighbors' prying eyes. So I prefer subdued lighting. Over the years, I've used candles or a string of small lights - such as a small string of holiday lights.

Nowadays, lights come in such a variety that they can be holiday or celebration themed.  Strings such as these red, white, and blue stars would look great attached to a balcony rail on the 4th of July.

Patriotic Stars Light String

Solar Powered and Waterproof Chinese Lanterns

My first small garden flag remains my favorite garden flag. Unfortunately, I've taken very few photos of it. This is early summer last year - tomato plants, peppers, a flag, and a gorgeous blue sky. Though small, your balcony is part of your home. Make it yours.