9 Jun 2010

Tribulations of urban balcony gardening…



I'm not normally pessimistic but I confess I have been a bit disheartened of late.  I've been invaded.  Yes, just a few days away from home over  half term and a family of pigeons have moved in, taking over my balcony, behaving like rock stars and trashing the place (seedlings completely squashed or broken). All very distressing.  


My kitchen now looks like a horticultural hospital as I've started again, this time indoors, and am also hoping that the poor oppressed cauliflowers, courgettes, squashes and nasturtiums will recover.

Outdoors, my growing year is revealing that  I'm Seriously Muddling Along.  I'm already reading about the successes and soon-to-be harvests of more organised and/or experienced veg growers which is making me feel slightly panicked as I'm still sowing stuff.  It seems that every time I venture out to the Veg Patch the list of Things To Do stretches ever-longer, leaving me feeling just a tad overwhelmed.  I seem to have leapt straight from March (waiting for the frosty nights to pass) into June (scorching sun, drying winds, torrential rain) and my planting and sowing schedule is still languishing at the beginning of May!  On the plus side, at least the kids' broad beans and sunflowers are still alive. (The Veg Patch is faring better than the balcony, pigeon-wise.)


I've had one raised bed ready for planting for a couple of weeks but have been diverted off from this task by putting in another brick path and digging over a bed for my french beans (Blue Lake from Dig In, doing nicely), putting up a little support frame for them and inter-planting them with strawberries.  The little reclaimed brick paths between the beds hit the to-do-list last year when the kids and I tramped home with a couple of inches of veg patch clay-mud attached to the bottom of our shoes.  I'm planning (eventually) to put them in around all the beds, just loose laid so that I can lift and plant in the space if needed.


Suddenly though, everything  is a priority: seeds lately sown (literally), sweet peas to transplant (the coppiced hazel branches for the wigwam have already been delivered by a friend), weeding to be done (that one crept up rather fast!) and lettuces/beetroot/carrots/spinach to be thinned out. Oh, and a blog to write.  … And pigeons to be dealt with (a losing battle so far).

-- Take four children, a bag of lettuce seeds and a lot of enthusiasm.  Thin out seedlings in due course. -- 

I've recently applied for funding to extend the Patch with some railway-sleeper beds which I hope to fill with sensory plants and edible herbs and flowers as a Children's Garden.  I've had to draw a rough sketch to show where the planters will be and it's made me realise how small the Veg Patch is.  I take my hat off to those of you who have huge allotments to fill and control, although (perversely) maybe it's easier if you have lots of space to fill?  I've had to take out the Kale (really only any good now for my neighbour's rabbits) to make room for … what? radishes? sweetcorn? leeks?  Where will the pumpkins, courgettes and squashes go?  What about the tomato bushes, cauliflowers, nasturtiums, calendula and herbs?  Oh, never fear, I will fit it all in - but I may have to stop and dig out another bed beforehand!

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