Sunday, May 21, 2017

My first harvest and my failures

I harvested the first "crop" today :))
It's an icicle - basically a type of radish that doesn't have a red color on the outside - I've never seen this type before and the picture on the seed package made me think it's a white carrot at first.

To be honest, I think it was supposed to grow for longer, but I was really excited o I pulled one out to see what it is.
The others seem to be doing really well - I planted them in a really deep pot so they should grow pretty long.
Now for the "not-so-good" - the other type of radishes I planted, the usual round red type, have really big leaves but no roots are thickening. I am not sure it's because they are too crowded, because I thinned one pot and left the other as it was.
I am upset because it's supposed to be an easy vegetable to grow in containers - mine seem to have too thin stalks and no roots.

Also, my Camellia is dropping the buds - I am not very worried yet, because I read that this happens sometimes when the plants have too many buds - and mine really has too many for its size.
for the moment, that is it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

New seedlings planted and a general picture

I planted new batches of cilantro, dill, lettuce, carrots and seeds for cherry tomatoes and chilly peppers.

There are also new batches of basil planted and I moved the strawberries and the radishes inside, because it's getting too hot for them outside and they started wilting.

I also bought a celery root with leaves because I was unable to make it grow from seed (apparently it takes forever and I don't have the patience for it).
My balcony is becoming very crowded on the sides, so I will have to step up with the vertical plans. I need to go to a home improvement store to buy some chains, new pots and other things.

Overall, I'm very happy with the way it's coming around and pretty soon I will start harvesting stuff.

So here is a cure picture with the cat included :D

I also managed to buy some oregano from Mega Image and I planted the cuttings - surprisingly, they seem to be doing very well. This is my "herb garden" - Mint, oregano, basil, lovage, dill, parsley and celery. The rosemary is on the windowsill behind it.

I also bought a yellow begonia and planted it in a bigger pot.

That's about it for now :)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Advice from a begginer

Ok, I have been following a lot of articles, blogs and websites about gardening and I tried to use some of the advice - not all of it good.
So here are a few of my tried and failed or successes:

- seedlings - since I only use a few pots, I don't need a large amount of plants or seedlings. I use a normal desk lamp and a plastic container, plus egg cartons to sprout seeds.

Now, the advice I followed and I should't have - DO NOT PLANT the seedlings with the carton. I did that and the seedling barely grew. The ones I took out of the carton are twice as big.
The carton-planting might work in the garden, but in a container, you need to remove it to promote root growing.

- seeds - the first time I planted store-bought seeds, I planted too many of them and they all sprouted - which means I wasted a lot of them, since most of the time I had to pinch off the plants.
So now I only plant 3-5 of them in a carton, just in case they don't sprout.

- watering and fertilizer - no matter what type of soil you use, plants in containers dry up fast, so I spray water on them every day. On the soil, not the plants! Most of the plants do not like water on the leaves and it promotes fungus, so try to avoid wetting the leaves. This means choosing bigger pots so that there is room. Also, I add a small amount of fertilizer in the water (half of the recommended dose) because the nutrients in the potting soil are exhausted after about 2 months and the plants need them.
Also, I water them with tap water that was kept in bottles for at least a day to remove the chlorine.

- soil - I use the cheapest version of potting soil, but I add slow-release fertilizer every 3 months to it. There is a granulated type that dissolves in time (I have the one recommended for strawberries, but it works for anything).
I also have a few pretentious plans :) I bought a bag of orchid soil for an orchid and now I use the rest of it for acid-loving plants (the rhododendron, the camelia, the blueberries and so on). I mix it with regular potting soil because it's acidic so it lowers the PH of the mix. You can also add a spoon of apple vinegar in a liter of water and use it for them (trick I learned from a florist).

- pots - I try to not spend too much, so paying a lot for a big pot is against my nature :) I use plastic buckets and garbage cans for the plants that have deep roots and small buckets (from yogurt and sour cream) for others. You just need to wrap them in colored paper or even duct tape to make them look pretty. The only rule is to poke holes in the bottom to allow water to drain.

That's about it so far :)
I'll add more later.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

New plants and seedlings

Ok, so I started the seedlings for the cherry tomato two days ago (I'll post a detailed update once they sprout) and went shopping for new plants.

I got a very colorful leafy plant that is supposed to do well in the shade - it's called Maranta (or Prayer plant) because in the evening it fold the leaves as in prayer).
It looks unusual and I like it! 

But the one that thrills me the most is the Camelia! I absolutely love this plant and I sure hope I can get this one to flower (I bought one with lots of  flower buds).

Like I mentioned, I also ordered a few more strawberries from (these are called Ostara) and I planted them outside. I wasn't impressed by the fact that they were basically roots, but it seems that's the way they are stored during the year. Let's hope they will like the weather and that they will grow.

Other than that, I started working on a vertical garden idea but I still have some way to go until I can post pictures (it involves a trellis and a window and some ribbons).

Maybe over the weekend I can finish it so that next week I can post pictures.
Oh, I forgot to mention, I also planted Fresia bulbs (blue and pink) and I plan to plant some ginger tonight (I put it in water for the time being).

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Quick updates

While I'm waiting for another package of flowers and plants to arrive, I was checking out the plants and I have some good news:

Dianthus is blooming nicely - I placed it on the windowsill outside my balcony. I was worried because we had a few cloudy days, but they seem to be doing fine.

Same with the onions and the garlic I planted - they sprouted and they look really good. I am looking forward to use green onions that I grew :)
They will probably be good to eat in a week or so.

But the greatest thing is that my strawberries are flowering :)
Specifically, the climbing strawberries I bought from Sieberz all have flowers now.  I am worried because they didn't grow as many leaves as I expected - the type I bought are supposed to grow bigger. I am pretty sure I'm supposed to pinch the flowers to make the plant grow, but I don't have the heart to do it. I'll just let me do whatever they want.

The ones I brought from back home don't seem to plan on flowering, but they are multiplying - growing offshoots that I cut and planted in separate pots. Pretty soon I'll have a lot of strawberries - I just ordered 5 more plants from :p

I also ordered Fresia bulbs, a dwarf blackberry plant and a spicy pepper. 
I hope this weekend I will be able to work on setting up some space for others pots, I'm running out of horizontal space so I plan on setting up a vertical stand for the strawberries.

I'll post updates once I have them :)

Saturday, May 6, 2017

New plants or why I shouldn't be allowed to go shopping unsupervised :)

So, yesterday I needed milk and bread and I went to the MEGA IMAGE near my apartment. I knew it was a bad idea to go alone, because there is a florist shop there :))

So, I bought a coffee plant, an orchid and two other plants that I think might be Coleus (I asked the florist to show me the plants that don't need sunlight, because I plan to keep these inside my room)..

So yes, I really shouldn't be allowed to go shopping unsupervised :)) (on the bright side, I did remember to buy milk and bread :P).
I am really curious to see if the coffee plant will grow bigger - I always wanted one. 
I am a little scared about the orchid, I never had one and now I have to find the proper feed for it (since they can't be potted in regular soil).

And to also post an update, the onions seem to be doing great, the ones I planted last week started sprouting nicely.

Wish me luck :)

Friday, May 5, 2017

Cooking and planting day :)

Today I started to cook something and of course I ended up planting stuff. Sounds crazy? Not really.
First, the garlic - I found that some of it started sprouting so I decided to try to plant it to see if it will grow.

There was some room left in the pot so I added a few ornion seeds also, because I bought a lot of it and I'll feel sorry if I don't use it.

By the way, the other batch of onions I planted a few days ago is sprouting nicely.

After I finished with the garlic, I went back to cooking and found that some of the potatoes also sprouted.

So, I decided to use the last large pot and the last of the soil to plant the one in the middle, since it seemed that it really wanted to become more than food :)

I know that sometimes you can cut a sprouted potato into pieces and plant them after a few days, but I didn't have the patience so I planted the whole thing.

I had to look up online if I'm supposed to plant it with the sprouted part upside or not :)

I tried to grow potatoes like this last year also, but the problem  was they didn't grow any leaves, just a very long stalk (and by that I mean it went up to one and a half meters...) . I tried to give them more light, different soil, but no leaves showed up. The two plants I got died in the aphids infestation I keep mentioning.

I plan to add more soil to this one once it grows a bit (and once I manage to buy more - seriously, I think I should consider buying a patch of land with the amount of soil I'm using :)) ).

Since I had my hands in the plants, I decided to plant the tomatoes also.

I started them from seeds and I made a mistake and added too many seeds in the small paper cup I used. My excuse is that I didn't expect all of the seeds to sprout - usually, when people try to sprout not all seeds manage.
Apparently the seeds you buy are far better - all 10 plants sprouted, even with the improvisation I did to give them enough light and heat.

The seeds turned into small plants very fast and they started growing roots through the bottom of the paper cup so I figured it was time to plant them.

I used a large pot since I know tomatoes grow big - I also plan to build a support system when they become taller.

The only thing I didn't have the courage to do yet is thin the plants - the advice is to pinch the smaller sprouts and leave only 1-2. My problem at the moment is that all of them are the exact same height :))

So I'll wait a bit until I start thinning them.

This is the before and after picture - I added a picture of the seeds I used for reference. I chose the heart-shaped tomatoes because as far as I know they are smaller so they can be grown in a pot.
I also have some cherry tomatoes seeds but I'll start those a little later, once these start growing.

Let's hope for the best :)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

I forgot about the roses!

Like I mentioned before, some of the plants I grow I saved from Home Improvement stores - they managed to sprout leaves even packaged and on a shelf, so I decided to give them a chance to live in a better location.

When I went to Praktiker to buy pots I also saw they had a sale on roses - I like them and saw two of them that sprouted, so I took them home with me.

The poor plants looked very sad, but if I manage to make them grow I will be delighted.

The pink one looks pretty sturdy even if it had a difficult start :)
I will have to find a bigger pot for the red one if it shows signs of starting to grow, right now it's in a big pot but the other one I planted in a garbage can. I will try to find more cheap garbage cans and I will also have to find a solution to make more room in my balcony for them.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Apartment plants

My mother has an obsession with plants and a very small balcony - which means there are hundreds of plants crammed in there that almost never flower because there isn't enough room or light.
I decided to avoid the same pitfall so I only plan on having a few plants - most of them are saved from failing pots or just so pitiful that I didn't have the heart to leave them there :)

So, at my old apartment (I live in rentals) there was a very tall Dieffenbachia (Dumb cane) that was suffering from lack of care. After I stayed there for a year and took care of it. it sprouted two offshoots and when I left I took them with me and planted them.

So far, they don't look too good - I've planted them in march the the original big leaf died. I moved them in a place that gets more sun, hopefully it will make them develop.

I also have thee types of ivy (I love this plant) but they aren't doing well so far.

The first two types were attached by aphids and I hope they will bounce back and the third type I just got from my grandmother's house (her house is covered with the stuff) so it's not impressive yet.

I can't seem to find the right type of light for it to grow - it's been the same size for months now :(

When I went to Leroy Merlin last week I couldn't resist the temptation to buy some Dianthus (garofite), because I love the way they smell. I bought two different colours, but I chose plants without fully developed flowers because this way they will last longer.

My grandmother has a few patches and in the spring they smell fantastic, so I hope mine will keep also.

The ones I chose have red and dark red flowers. I'll post pictures when they flower :)

The flower I'm most proud of is a saved Hydrangea - my sister got it from her boyfriend and we left it at the office over the weekend. When we came back on Monday, it looked dead - all the leaves dried out and the originally blue-and-purple flowers were dead.

I decided to try to rescue it so i took it home, stripped most of the leaves, moved it to a bigger pot and watered it a lot. I am very proud to report that it's sprouting new leaves (before and after pics)!

My friends also gave me a Rhododendron with white flowers as a birthday present (the flowers look like lilies)  and it's really big :)
I have a feeling I'll have trouble with it because apparently it needs acidic soil, so I have to find some or another solution.
I also have a Parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans) which was half eaten by the cats, a Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum kochii) and a Cala Lilly. I keep these indoors for now (in the picture below you can also see the Goji plant and the poor ivy) because i don't have room on the balcony  - I have to install some shelves near the windows.

Ok, so far so good - I think i managed to introduce all my plants :))
I'll start posting updates as I go.


Berries, berries, berries!

If there is one fruit I love, it's strawberries. I am able to eat tons and never get enough!
So I tried to grow them in pots a year ago, but unfortunately I got some bad soil with aphids from somewhere and all my plants died.
So I decided to try again.

I got two plants on Easter from my grandmother's garden and added three more climbing strawberries from Sieberz . I keep them in hanging pots on the balcony window.

They seem to be doing ok, but the ones I bought seem to be growing very slowly. The sturdy type from my garden started expanding already, the others just sprouted a few more small leaves.

I even invested in some special fertilizer for them from Leroy Merlin (it was about 5 euros/500g).

So far, they don't seem to want to bloom, but I'm hopeful :)

I also bought from Sieberz a raspberry plant (after buying a blackberry and a raspberry plant from Praktiker that refused to sprout leaves).

It's doing great, even if I didn't move it from its pot (it looked like the soil was a special blend and it was deep enough).

It's supposed to be able to bear fruit in a year - so I will probably have to move it in another bigger pot later in the year.

The main problem with it is that it needs a lot of sun, so I have to be careful where I place it, since only a corner of my balcony gets sun for a longer period.

I recently bought a couple of other berrie bushes from Praktiker - mostly because they managed to sprout leaves even if they were wrapped and packages and on the shelf in the store. I figured if they can grow in those conditions, my balcony won't be a problem :))

I added the packages so you can see the species (since the plants are dismal at this stage :p). The one on the left is a Jostaberry (a cross between black currant/coacaz and gooseberry/agris) and the one on the right is Citria (white blackberry).

I had the same problem with these as I did with the trees - they have very deep roots so I needed deep cheap pots - so I used plastic garbage cans.

Let's hope they can manage without special soil!

Oh, almost forgot, I also have a Goji plant - my uncle has a passion for the fruits and he planted a big bush in my grandmother's garden, so I took a cutting and planted it in a pot. It was attached by afids and almost died, but I managed to revive it and it's going strong.

I've had it for almost three months so far, but since it was traumatised earlier this year I don't expect it to bear fruit this year.

I also took a cutting from a fig bush we have and I'm trying to see if it will root, because Pinterest says that you can grow figs in a pot also.

But it's only been a month so I'll give it more time before I post pictures (currently it's in a plastic bottle with some water and some soil).

Let's get to actual flowers!

Leafy green things

After a big fail with the lettuce (I love lettuce and tried to plant several types in pots, but it refused to grow) I decided to try something easier.

So, I now have parsley, dill, leaf celery (as opposed to the root type, this one grows tall stalks and many leaves), lovage (had to look up the translation for Leustean  :)) ), rosemary, mint, spinach and rucola.

These are the small pots for dill and parsley - ignore their sorry state, it's because we stripped the leaves to use in the kitchen :)
So far, these are the only home-grown food things we used in the kitchen :)
I bought the seeds and planted them in several small pots, so that we can switch them around when needed.

At first, I wanted to grow them on the kitchen windowsill, but it's a very shady place and they didn't do well, So now we keep two pots in the kitchen (the ones with the most leaves) and the rest on the balcony, where they get more light.

Now on the kitchen windowsill we have rosemary also - I bought that fully grown from a supermaket (P.S. I love that some supermarkets now sell potted greenery to use fresh).

The third pot is mint, which I also bough ready-grown in a pot (I also have seeds for it and also for basil, but they haven't sprouted yet).

We usually cut the big leaves from the mint and dry them, so that the plant will sprout more.

The celery and the lovage are still small, I planted the seeds a couple of weeks ago. These grow slower than parsley.

The same with the spinach - I planted it about a week ago and it barely sprouted - and the rucola I bought two days ago.

So this is what greens I have. i am really sorry I can't manage to make the lettuce grow, I love it :(

On to berries!


This is a big category and the main reason I started to garden in my balcony :)

I am growing carrots, radishes, white icicles, two types of beans, green onions and I recently started with cucumbers and tomatoes.

These are the carrots. I chose a deep rectangular pot for them, to allow for room for the roots to grow. However, I realised after they sprouted that I added far too many seeds, but I didn't have the heart to thin them, so I'll wait and see what will happen.

I bought random seeds from the Hypermarket and they sprouted really fast in regular potting soil.
It's important to plant them where you will let them grow, because you can't transplant the carrots.

I keep them on the balcony edge and water them every day, because potting soil dries up fast especially if it's outside, in the wind.

They seem to grow slowly, but I am happy with the result so far.

I also have two pots with what we call "one month radishes" - the seeds are supposed to turn into full grown radishes about 6 weeks.

Same type of pot - deeper to allow the radish to grow below.
I didn't make the same mistake with these, I added fewer seeds and thinned them out a little once they sprouted.

I did notice that, compared to the radishes grown in a garden, the stems of these are very slim and breakable. It might be because of the soil or it might be because of the lack of light.
Not sure, but I'll wait and see what results I get.

I planted these about 4 weeks ago and they seem to be dong well - I also water them everyday, for the same reason (potting soil dries really fast).

These are the two types of beans I have. I planted them at the same time, but the green version sprouted later. I plan to add a support for the yellow type once it grows more leaves, as it's supposed to be the climbing type.
Like you can see in the left, I usually put a plastic bottle over the seeds until they get some serious leaves, to help them grow (it keeps the humidity, protects it from air currents and keeps a higher temperature).

These are the white icicles (as far as I can tell, it's a mix between carrots and radishes). I don't remember ever eating those, but my sisters gave me the seeds and I said I'll try to grow them.

Same type of deep pot used for carrots and radishes. I also thinned them once they sprouted.

They don't seem to need much direct sun, these grew very fast on the opposite side of the windows (about 3 meters away).

From what I read on Pinterest, the root plants (the ones that grow the edible part below ground) don't need as much sun as tomatoes for example.

The green onions I planted two days ago, from seed onions.
I tried to grow them from sprouted onions (Pinterest recommended using kitchen scraps as a way to build a windowsill garden, but they failed miserably - see below :p).

Now I have a large quantity of seed onions planted, so I'll come back later with updates.

I tried to plant them in a rectangular pot with less soil, so they have a way to go until the edge - I don't need them to grow to mature onions, I like the green type better and I hope the room they have will protect them from air currents until they are stronger. I keep them on the balcony edge also and water them every day. I bought the seed onions from Leroy Merlin (home improvement store), it was about 1 euro/500 g. 
Like I mentioned at the start, I recently started cucumbers and tomatoes from seeds and let me tell you, it was unexpected that they actually sprouted :))
Behold my seedling kit! 

Those are the tomato seedling - they reached this stage in about a week. I have very little hope of being able to grow those tomato plants, mostly because I don't have enough sun in my balcony. Also, I chose the wrong type of seeds, the tomatoes are far too big to grow in a pot.
But I also bought seeds for cherry tomatoes and I'll try with those as soon as I manage to buy more soil and adequate pots for them.

The cucumbers grew faster and yesterday I moved them to their own pots with the supports I improvised (in the second picture you can also see the current state of the cherry stick, because I can't call it a tree yet :p).

I'm pretty sure I'll have trouble with the type of cucumbers I planted, these seem to be the large type. I also have seeds for the gherkins (the smaller size used for pickles) and I'll start those when I start the cherry tomatoes.

On to the leafy greens!

Fruit trees and bushes

I just realised it might take  a few posts to show how many plants I already have :)) There are too many to fit in one post and I am not very good at aligning the pictures.

I apologise for the quality of the photos, I took them with the phone but I hope the things are visible enough. When possible, I added a picture with the seeds/package for the plants and the link to the site used for buying them.

I'll start with the unusual plants and trees, then follow up with the vegetables, then with the herbs and at last with the actual flowers.

This is a bush called Deutzia Purpurascens (Kalmiiflora) that I bought from Carrefour in March when they had a sale on garden items (here's the link to the vendor's page)

According to them, it doesn't need special conditions or soil, I just need to remember to prune it because it tends to expand a lot.

I used potting soil (the type available from any store) and moved it to a bigger pot when I realised it will grow larger than I expected.
It currently sits outside on the balcony edge and I added some improvised supports because the branches seem to be pretty weak.
I have the advantage of living on the second floor and the balcony edge is pretty sheltered from the wind, but if there is a storm I will have to bring the plants in, other-ways they might fly away :)

I did have some problems with it at first, because my cats ate half the leaves :))
But it bounced back fast after I moved it out of their reach and got them some kitty grass.

This is the first plant I bought, together with a sour cherry tree that I planted in a bucket. Yes, I grow two trees also - they aren't doing so great so far, but I hope things will improve soon.

I also ordered a Jasmine bush from Sieberz and planted it in a big pot. I was worried at first because it had very few small leaves, but it seems to be doing ok. I really want to see if it will flower. So far I think it needs more sun than it's getting, but hopefully sunnier  days are coming :)

This is the Sour Cherry tree - it didn't grow any additional leaves since I bought it a month ago, but it seems to be doing well (no drooping leaves).

 I also bought a Sunburst Cherry tree from Sieberz when it was on sale and I was very dissapointed because  it was just a stick with roots, absolutely no lateral branches or leaves.
So I learned a valuable lesson - make sure to order potted trees, since the odds of them actually looking like trees are higher :)

 I did plant it in a deep waste basket and since then it started sprouting some small leaves (there's a picture of it in the next post, the one with the vegetables).

Now, the first problem I had with the trees is the cost of deep pots. After visiting some home improvement stores and seeing that a large deep pot costs more than all I spent on the actual plants, I decided to improvise. So, I bought tall waste baskets and pokes holes in the bottom - I paid 7 to 15 lei (2-4 euros) for one and a deep pot is about 60 lei (20 euros).

I also chose the cheapest version of potting soil for them (about 5 lei/1 euro per 10 liters of soil) since trees in general don't have special needs when it comes to soil.
As a general rule, I soak the roots in a bucket of water for a day before planting the tree and I make sure to remove the sawdust wrapped around the roots. Also, make sure to release the roots (they usually wrap them tight for easier transport) - it will help the tree adapt faster.
I am no expert by any means, so I'll just add some of the things I did for the plants that actually thrive.
On to the next category!

About this blog

Hello there!
I am Madeline and I live in an apartment in the middle of a big city, but I have a passion for gardening. So, I had to find a solution to follow my passion even in these hard circumstances.
I started this blog because I want to keep track of the way my garden grows. If you end up liking it, more power to me :)
So, here is the bottom line:

I have a balcony that spans the length of 3 rooms, but it's kind of narrow (the before picture is above).
 The windows are facing North (I think! - I really should figure this out eventually :p ) but there are no tall buildings around so I get plenty of light, even if no direct sun. There is also a big tree that shades part of the balcony from hard sun.
I started planting stuff in March, so some of the plants are already (somewhat) grown.
I don't plan to grow the usual apartment plants, the main idea was to be able to grow some vegetables,  herbs and other eatable green things (so far I only got to use home-grown parsley and dill).

However, I am tempted to save flowers that struggle on the shelves of home improvement stores :)

I'll start with a post about the current state of the plants and post later updates, with links to the pages I used for learning how to care for them and websites where I bought the plants (if applicable).

Let's forge onward!