The Garden Share Collective: Hot hot summer

Summer down under is going to be ruthless and it’s shaping up to be another blisteringly hot summer. While we humans can hide in air-conditioning, our botanical companions are not as fortunate. Balcony residents are especially at risk and often have to suffer wherever they are, unless your body corp or landlord is kind enough to allow you to erect structures to provide more shade. Instead all they can hope for is the relief from a good watering.

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Thankfully we’ve had a couple of days with good rainfall, so my new batch of salad greens have been thriving. This cos lettuce has had a trim and is still not showing signs of bolting.

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This tatsoi too has had a trim and looks like it’ll need another soon. 20131124gardensharecollective06

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Otherwise to keep them happy to fresh (and not dead), I’ve taken to watering them more frequently and checking the soil to see if it’s drying out too quickly.

I save the water from:

  • My sprouting jars (more on those next time)
  • Washing rice and vegetables
  • Boiling/steaming vegetables

My mother-in-law shared that she mixes her potting mix with sawdust to help retain more water. However this means she has to chuck in coffee grounds to neutralise the alkali from the sawdust. I’ve never tried this method. Has anyone else heard of this and tried it?

Mulching also helps potted soil retain as much moisture as possible. Think of it as a shield from the worst of the sun’s harsh rays. I have a big bale of sugarcane mulch, which I use in every pot. It breaks down and adds to the potting mix eventually.

Does your gardening change in the summer months?

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But I’ve come to accept that despite my best efforts, the older lettuce is going to bolt on me. True enough, my lettuce heads have gone skinny and are reaching for the sky. It won’t be long before I can harvest a fresh batch of lettuce seed to save for the next growing season.

My mealy bug infested broccoli has also given up the ghost, so I’ll be ripping it up to make way for other plantings when I return from Perth and the rest of my interstate travel this month.

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Out of the gifted 8 Love in a Mist seeds from Diggers, 6 germinated and 4 have made it past 2 leaf stage. Obviously I need a lot more work to decrease my plant mortality rate.

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I’ve also been able to harvest only two purple beans before all 3 vines shrivelled up and died. All because of this guy…

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I didn’t pull this tomato plant out of the pot it was sharing with the bean vines, because I had thought it was a cherry tomato variety. Turns out this is a full sized tomato plant and has taken over the entire pot. At least I’ll have lots of tomatoes to look forward to in a couple of weeks.

My mother-in-law’s garden has a glut of chillies and since they don’t eat chillies as much as I might, she gave me so many, I decided to blanch them in boiling water for 5-10 minutes to pickle them in a vinegar and sugar solution. It’s been a week and they’re tasting pretty good!

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Remember the seed swap I mentioned in my last Garden Share post? Louie took me up on the offer and we swap a couple of seeds. I’ll be sprouting are some chilli seeds I saved, and the garlic chives and marigold seeds swapped with Louie after I get back from my work travels in December. Fingers crossed they germinate, as I would love more flowers to attract beneficial insects and I could use more chilli in the kitchen.

I will be travelling interstate for work over the next 2 weeks, so fingers crossed our apartment sitter and later my mother-in-law will be able to keep an eye on things on our balcony while we’re away.

 

TheGardenShareCollective150pixThis blogpost is part of the Garden Share Collective, a group of bloggers who share their vegetable patches, container gardens and the herbs they grow on their window sills.

Got a balcony or small space garden and care to share its progress? Join us at the Garden Share Collective.