The header image shows the terrain of Balcony Farms. This is the upper growing area. In the left foreground with the slightly blue leaves is lemon thyme. Behind it is a wonderful bush basil which has done very well. There follows a cilantro plant which started slow but has shot up in the last two weeks. Behind the cilantro, almost invisible, is a caraway plant. I should move it as I suspect it does not like the heat in this corner. To the right of the caraway, again almost hidden, is some Greek oregano. It looks troubled in this image but is actually thriving. Filling out the image to the right is a small forest of basil.
I am fortunate to have two growing areas. The lower balcony has the most sun exposure. The northern end of the lower balcony will see almost 10 hours of sun each day. The rest of the area will see at least eight. Balcony Farms’ second growing area is the upper balcony seen in the header image. This offers a northern region of high sun and a southern region of mixed sun and bright shade. The lower balcony has two adjacent wall surfaces of brick. The brick has excellent heat retention. The upper balcony has one face of brick. The opposite wall is vinyl siding. The connecting wall is one half glass balcony door, and one half grey vinyl.
Balcony Farms – Garden Therapy Feedback
The plants give great feedback. They are equivalent to writing code in this way. Miss a watering and the mistake is visible within the hour as drooping leaves (there is a word here that I am unable to remember at the moment). I had more problems with sudden dehydration on the lower balcony. I thought this was due to the size of the pots, or the quality of the potting soil mix. Then one day I stepped out on the balcony in bare feet to give some rescue water; the balcony floor was stove top hot. The plants were cooking as they stood in their pots. The direct sunlight, the warm brick and the thermal sink of the floor, all combine to create an oven effect.
Rosemary, Chives, and Basil
The rosemary loves these stove top conditions. Give it a hint of water now and then, and then get out of the way. It was happy.
Early in the season I bought a small pot of chives, divided it, with each half replanted in a shallow clay pot. Chives are the only plant able to grow in 5 inches of soil. I had two pots of this depth and was determined to put them to use. Both pots of chives did well in the early part of summer, the cooler period. When the high temps hit, the chives browned at the tip despite whatever amount of water I gave them. The issue was not lack of water but too much direct sun, and too much stove top heat.
Basil plants germinating in March 2016
The basil plants were the best indicators of failure on my part. During high temps they required water at mid-day lest they wilt. It was a shock to see plants which had been robust and healthy at six in the morning turn to dead straw in the noon sun.
If the CTE / ALS diagnosis is correct, I will not need any future winter gear. Heating costs will be way down. I need not worry about watering the plants of Balcony Farms. I shall eat them.
Life shall go on in its crazed, inimitable way.