Friday, March 30, 2012

seedling update, month 1

I feel that my seedlings are growing slow. I found a heating mat that was pretty cheap (I'm also still looking into getting the snake lights) so I've been using that for the last 3 days. But I'm enjoying watching the seedlings grow.
Spinach, lettuce, kale @ 1 month
Swiss chard (no true leaves yet), pak choi @ 1 month
Romaine lettuce red and green @ 1 month
Beets @ 1 month - sown and grown outside
Kale @ 1 month - sown and grown inside
Arugula @ 3 weeks, sown inside and also left outside on the balcony
Cute purple flowers on rosemary 
This weekend, there is a sale at home depot for gardening stuff and starter plants. I'm gonna have to go and check it out! I'll see what I get and start a second set of seeds this weekend too!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

First resident of Charm City Balcony Garden 2012

I went to go guy some hardware at home depot and I naturally gravitated towards the garden section. I ended up buying a new container for the front of the house and....a starter plant. I could not help it! I did control myself a little and bought only one - Bush Early Girl. Last year, I had great success with Early Girl 50, so hopefully the Bush variety will also do well.
Bush early girl in 5 gallon home-made SIP

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Recently, I've been thinking a lot about worms. I would like to start a worm bin but the only space I have is indoors. I still have not found the courage(?) to bring worms into the house. I've read that if done correctly, it does not smell but I just find this hard to believe.  Plus I'm worried about fruit flies, ants, and roaches. I'll just have to think about it some more.  Maybe this was a sign for me to start a worm bin, but I found some baby worms under the bags of soil and mulch this morning. I'm not entirely sure where they came from. Anyway, I popped them into the snap pea container and watched them *happily* dig themselves into the soil.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Squirrels and insects, oh my!

I suppose gardening will always be full of surprises. I sowed kale, spinach and beets directly into containers outside. These have taken some time to sprout and just when they started to pop its head out of the soil, some creature attacked my containers! At first I thought it was birds (we have a whole bunch of birds that hang out on the balcony and poop all over my car) but now I think it is was squirrel(s).  I'm not sure what they were looking for but they pretty much ransacked all the containers.
Holes in the soil - probably squirrels?
Not all the seedlings were destroyed, but they did tear up a good number of them.  I figure out a way to keep the squirrels out using a grid I had from shelving unit I used to use in school.
This solved the squirrel problem, but then something started attacking the spinach seedlings. I have a good number of healthy looking seedlings that hadn't quite yet formed its true leaves. All of a sudden they just started to wilt and when I tugged it, it just fell out. Something ate through the stem, killing the poor baby spinach seedling. You can see the wilted seedlings next to the healthy looking ones in this picture. I did a little google search, and it seems it could be slugs, june bugs, cutworm...or anything else.
Look closely, these are 2 wilted seedlings near the front.
Couple days after this picture,some the healthy ones also got attacked.
To save as many as possible, I transferred the seedlings inside using a plastic lettuce container. I could only rescue 4 seedlings, such a bummer!! So far, they have not attacked the kale or beets. Fingers crossed.
Spinach seedling (the long leaved ones) transferred inside.
Other seedlings include volunteer lettuce (I think), and kale seedlings
Picture updates of the other seedlings growing at charm city garden presented below.
Swiss chard, pok choi, lettuce seedlings transferred to plastic container
Beets seedlings - I think I have sowed this too late...
Arugula seedlings (outside)
Snap peas

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Recycling potting soil?

Last year, the bulk of my garden expense was spent on potting soil - approximately 5 bags. I really do not want to replace all the soil because of the cost but also for the lack of space to dispose of last year's soil. I have one bag of composted cow manure and half a bag of fresh potting soil that I can use to amend the old soil. So I've been dumping the old soil in a bucket, adding some fresh potting soil/manure/crush egg shells/fertilizer, mixing it around and getting as much roots out as possible. I also think it is important to break up the old soil to loosen up the compacted soil. I bought a sieve from the garden store but it turns out filtering the soil through the sieve is A LOT of work. So I've resorted to breaking up the soil with my little shovel. Even this is really tedious and I do not look forward to dealing with the larger containers.
Stored egg shells crushed using a mortar and pestle to be added to the soil.
This green bucket is very useful for mixing the soil. 
My little seedlings are 10 days old and now have all sprouted. They're looking quite good.
Pak choi and Swiss chard seedlings.
Romaine lettuce seedlings

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Space issues @ charm city garden

Last year I got very excited about starting all kinds of seeds and ran out of container space and had to "kill" the overstock. This year I am trying to be more realistic about the space that I have, but I may have already over-sown (not sure if this is a word). Right now, I have started pak choi, red romaine, green romaine, swiss chard, sweet basil, and thai basil. The basil will stay in the kitchen, the spinach and kale was directly sown in containers on the balcony. I have a little space in the back and to the side of the house where I plan to grow the lettuce and possible the swiss chard.
Two long containers on the fence for lettuce (on top is where the balcony garden is).
Containers on the side of the house - still need to be cleaned up. 
I also have a couple of containers in front of the house. In one of the containers I have thyme and rosemary that survived the winter. I am not entirely sure what I will grow there but I am thinking some  herbs and maybe zucchini and hot peppers.
Containers in front of the house. I plan to remove the small containers and the crate
Oh, and I started the sugar snap peas indoor as well, this will go in one of the containers on the side of the house.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Post-cleaning and 2012 first seedlings

I really wish I cleaned up the mess from last year's garden at the end of the season. Cleaning is so tedious and exhausting.  Pulling out the old plants is messy and difficult. My forearm was all scratched up, the balcony was full of dirt and leaves.  I wanted to do a thorough job, but I got tired at the end and called it good after pulling the plants. After sweeping, reshuffling the containers and restringing the wind barrier, the balcony is looking pretty good.
Balcony cleaned and organized
I still need to clean the containers that are in front and back of the house. I will have to wait for another sunny day to work on that. In the meantime, I've been anxiously waiting for the first seedlings to pop out. I must admit that I am pretty impatient, but fortunately on day 4 the pak choi showed its pretty little head. Exciting!
Pak Choi seedlings on Day 4
I have the seedlings set up on the windowsill. Last year when I started the seeds, I did not use any light and I ended up getting very leggy seedlings.  So now I am using a desk lamp as a source of light.
Seedlings with desk lamp
Pak choi seedlings up close
I plan to get a heating pad eventually - especially when I start sowing the tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers. On Thursday, I also sowed spinach, kale, and beets directly into 3 and 5 gallon containers. I can't wait to have all these vegetables in my garden!