31 May 2013

gorgeous blue

I had a bittersweet moment going by the old property again. The blue-green Hostas I planted three years ago are simply enormous now. The leaves are bigger than my own head, and the deep blue-green color so rich. These plants are so beautiful it hurts me to look at them. I attribute their beautiful growth to several years' worth of homemade compost feedings, decent shade and steady moisture- they sit right near where the hose drips.
The fullness of the blue Hosta foliage can only be appreciate with something pictured to scale- here my two-year old poses in front of their glory.
Can you tell I love blue Hosta?

In other news, I have been very busy of late, but things are still happening in my little garden. Chives and Petunias are blooming, Green Beans have flowered, Potatoes emerged. Hopefully I'll find time to take a post more pictures soon!

21 May 2013

mimosa and hibiscus

These two plants I dug up as volunteers out of the old yard and brought along with me have been outside for a while now, to enjoy the spring sunshine. But I think I moved the Mimosa too soon. Quite a few of the delicate leaves have gone pale, dried up and dropped off (see foliage lower left). I'm afraid it was probably too cold for it. I saw its parent tree in the old neighborhood a few days ago and noticed it was just barely beginning to leaf out. So must remember next year, don't put the mimosa outside until well into May.
The Hibiscus also suffered a bit from going out early; some of its leaves got yellow spots but overall it is doing fine now. I have just moved this one up into a larger pot, as I wanted its white one for the aloe vera.
There were two more of each of these plants; one has died and the other is  still just a bare stem. So I think at least until they are much larger, these two will continue to come in during winters.

20 May 2013

mum greenery

One plant that is doing well for me now without much attention is the Mum; I've moved it up into a larger pot that was vacated when shuffling others into new clay pots the other day.

19 May 2013

out the door

Extra Cilantro plants and Mint cuttings. To new homes. Bye!

18 May 2013

little tarragon

It's growing!

aloe vera

I splurged on a pair of Aloes, too. I've always liked this plant, especially its usefulness! But afraid I would kill them in the past, as I'm not very good with succulents. I tend to overwater. I think I've been getting better at that lately with my jades and dracanea, so I decided to try aloes again. They were sorely rootbound.
Both went into a mix of potting soil and eggshells; this one in the larger white pot has a final layer of pebbles on top (leftover from a small bag of aquarium gravel). I've always thought that aloes look pretty in white pots, for some reason. Perhaps because it highlights the light patterning on the leaves.
The second one I repotted as well but into a smaller, narrow pot as I think its recipient might keep it on a kitchen windowsill. He is a bit prone to kitchen accidents and likes natural remedies (such as honey on a wound) plus tends to underwater his plants so I think an aloe vera is a good plant. I've been aware for a long time that the gel in aloe vera leaves is good for burns, but never actually tried it myself. I'm not hoping for that opportunity, but if it arises now I have the plant!

17 May 2013


I did a little treat for myself and bought a few Petunias for my balcony. Kind of overestimated the size of my planter box; when I got home found that only two would fit in the box.
I put the other one in this pretty pot the neighbor lady gave me. She's just moved in and saw me walking up yesterday and said "are you the one I gave the pots to?"

"Yes, that's me."
"I gave you another pot, it's by your door!"
"Thanks! I can always use pots; I have about eighty plants on my balcony!" I laughed. "Do you want some?"
She smiled but said she has lots of cleaning up to do first- her balcony is stacked with moving boxes right now...

lavender and rosemary

I have repotted both my Lavender and Rosemary. Prompted by a handout; I saw a neighbor carrying a trash bin towards the dumpster and spied two nice clay pots inside. I said "are you throwing those flower pots out?" and she gave them to me. One was big enough to move the Rosemary up, and then I bought a new ten-inch pot for the Lavender.

The Rosemary plant has been looking poorly for a while, and I thought it was lagging behind the Lavender in growth (they're the exact same age) because I've been eating it so much! But when I upended its pot discovered this is one of the plants that got that bad mix of sand. The soil was very dense and heavy. I knocked most of it off the roots, gave it a fresh mix with plenty of perlite in it, and resettled into the new, larger pot.
The Lavender also had some of that old sandy mix but also lots of eggshells mixed in, so it was doing much better and I didn't bother to remove the sand when repotting it.
I'm amazed at how much bigger and healthier the Lavender looks! I hope my Rosemary is happier now. The scent off it when I had my hands in its roots was amazingly pungent and fresh.
So my conclusion is that my favorite amendment to lighten soil is simply dried and crushed eggshells. I like using perlite okay, but it's very dusty and of course you have to buy it. Crumbled packing peanuts work okay too for a free material source, but I don't like how they eventually float to the top of the soil. The only downside to using eggshells is that you have to be patient and save up a lot (or eat lots of eggs!) but I don't repot that often, so I usually have just enough. I'll stock up much more in the winter when no repotting activities are going on, to be ready for work with plants in spring again.

Note: if you're going to use eggshells, be sure to rinse them first and dry thoroughly (a day or two) before crushing. Sticky membranes and yolk reside left inside the shell will make it clump together and have an odor (I've learned from error).

15 May 2013

little croton

I was very pleased that after a long time waiting my little Croton cutting stuck in a jar of water is growing some nice, fat roots!
It's now living in a pot of damp soil. Already new leaves are emerging, a sign of good health.

13 May 2013

taking stock

I have been keeping up with the plants, just not the blog for a few days. Nasty little headcold attributed to that- but short-lived thankfully- and I give a nod to my Rosemary plant for that again!

The main thing that's happened is that I threw out most of my makeshift planter boxes. Kept the large one with Peas in it, another sown with Carrots (coming up a few little feathery things now) and two small ones that now have Cosmos and Summer Savory planted in them. I realized that I simply don't have enough sun for the proper vegetables, so don't need all the planter boxes and they take up quite a bit of room. Plus they're really unattractive. And since now my balcony garden will shift its focus from feeding me to visually pleasing me, I want to get rid of the ugly stuff.

I moved all these Green Beans that were growing vigorously, but leaning quite a bit towards the sun, into individual pots where they can be shifted closer to the light.
I migrated all my sad Tomato and Pepper plants, plus a few basil and marigolds, to my friend's sunny backyard deck.

Here's an overview of the space, from left
to right
and a patched-together pan view.
It's become quite a bit more populated over the past few months, with all the seedlings I've started and some overwintered plants moved back outside! Let's see if I can make an accounting of exactly what I have growing out there:

Apple tree, dogwood tree, boston ferns, two autumn ferns, chocolate and regular mint plants, cosmos, miniature roses, marigolds, stevia, four pots of garlics, english thyme, lemon thyme, sage, rosemary, lavender, two kinds of lettuce (in three containers), two borage plants, six swiss chard, three dill plants, one perhaps-dead resurrection plant, hibiscus in a pot, a reviving mum, summer savory, green onions, nasturtiums, cilantro, chives (which are starting to bloom!), six bush green beans, echinacea, ten pea plants, a handful of carrots, three sturdy little broccoli plants, one struggling little celery, two basil plants, young mimosa tree, tithonia, a potato growing in a bag. And a ginger in a pot that hasn't come up yet. Whew! That's a lot for a small space!

So it's not quite what I had planned at first, but I'm still pleased and now picturing a garden of flowers, pretty foliage and herbs (next year, when I have my focus right from the beginning).

08 May 2013


I have been back the the old property and while most of my garden beds are all in weeds now, I was pleased to see that I apparently made good choices with the few perennial bedding plants I did put in while I lived there. The Crepe Myrtles and Daylilies are all growing strong, the lilies having filled out their beds even more. The Hostas look great, especially my favorite blue-green ones in the back, which I managed to get a picture of. They're huge! Makes me want to try and grow a few in large containers on my balcony (I saved seed off those a few years back). Even the few Bugleweed I had dug up and transplanted about with hopes of spreading some color and weed control are taking hold and full of bright purple-blue flowers right now. Some are a darker, others a lighter hue. All pretty.

07 May 2013

rosemary biscuits!

After the tea, I had a craving for the flavor of rosemary and honey, but didn't want to go to all the trouble of baking bread. So I made baking-powder biscuits instead. Chopped fine a generous amount of fresh Rosemary
and mixed it straight into the dough
They were fantastic. Got eaten up quick. I'm going to do this more often. I need a bigger rosemary plant!

06 May 2013

rosemary tea!

The other day I started feeling blah in the evening, headache and sore throat. I made myself some Rosemary tea with a generous amount of comb honey. Refreshing! And by morning, symptoms gone. Either it was a very short-lived cold, or the rosemary helped me out again.

new ferns and a spider plant urn

I went to the local farmer's market yesterday, for some fresh produce (spinach, amazing strawberries, a head of lettuce, apples and greenhouse tomatoes!) but instead of getting a jar of local honey, I bought a pair of ferns instead.
I really wanted a pretty japanese painted fern, but the man said these Autumn Ferns are more hardy, plus they don't die back in the winter so it will be something green and pretty on my balcony all season. First thing I did on getting home was to repot them into larger containers
and set on my little outdoor table.
I haven't had much luck with ferns lately, so I am hoping these do better for me. I asked the grower about the state of my Boston Fern and he suggested cutting it back hard, to let it regenerate with new fiddleheads. I've done this with all the small pots (seen here still scraggly),
but left the biggest one alone until I see how the others respond!
It's sitting inside a large plastic urn-shaped planter. I brought a pair of them home from the old property. My intent is to eventually have one in each shady corner of the balcony, with a big fern in them. I can just picture it! But for now the ferns don't fill it out, and I've put the Spider Plants in the other one.
All three, nestled together. I need to lift them higher as the sun is coming in too strong under the blinds. It looks a bit silly up on that cupboard but still attractive, to some degree I think.

04 May 2013

baby spider plant

I've pinned another little Spider Plant down onto soil. It's the fullest, best-looking little Spider baby I've had yet.
Can't say as much for the parent plant. A few weeks ago I moved the full-grown spiders into two separate pots so the Boston Fern could take theirs, but it's been droopy every since. Hasn't quit growing infants, though!

itsy bitsy violets

A baby violet is growing! I was about to throw all the faded leaves out but can you see? there's three more in there!

lifted up

I have quite a few seedlings and young plants in little pots. I set them all in the planter boxes, just on top of the dirt, to give them more sun while I wait for the flowers (nasturtiums) to grow big enough to plant into the boxes.
There's Lavender, Cosmos, Basil, Summer Savory, one Borage plant
quite a few Cilantro and a handful of Marigolds.

03 May 2013

moved up

My little Schefflera has been looking decidedly unhappy too. I can tell it was rootbound because I could see the roots through the clear plastic of its SIP, circling the container.
I've resettled it into a traditional pot. I know it's not too stressed, because it keeps sending out new little baby leaves!

boston fern

My Fern got all divided up. I wasn't planning to do that, but it's been looking worse and worse. I didn't realize how terrible until I saw someone's new plant, so lush and full. Mine's in awful state. I inspected it close and found its pot had no drainage holes. How could I miss that? I punched some with a nail, and at the same time noticed it had quite a few distinct crowns. So I separated a few
This is the nicest-looking one so far.
I'm not expecting them all to survive and thrive, but if even just one or two do, I'll be happy.