Green-house- Part 1

By Alison and Ollie, 01/08/2013

We moved into our current apartment in Jan 2012 and by the summer it was still lacking personality.  After a visit to Holland, we were inspired to bring a little bit of green into our own home. 

Our first step was to figure out where to start growing. We have a balcony which is about 3ft x 6ft. Unfortunately as I mentioned in Hot and spicy fish burritos our balcony is right on the edge of the atlantic. 

      While sometimes the view looks like this

At other times it looks like this

This meant we needed to turn our living space into a green-house. Luckily our apartment has windows at both sides of the house providing light in the morning and evening. Add a set of home-made shelves, to the various windowsills and curtain rails and we were ready to start planting.

Like all gardeners we have had our successes and our failures. We have bought books, used gardening websites and at times we just say ''feck it, lets try it''. 

Our tomatoes have thrived despite having to be duct taped. Our first variety were Tumbling toms which we were given for free. When we learned those spots were tomato blight we realised why the shop owner had been so generous. However we stripped them back and eventually they grew. Unfortunately one stem required a splint of duct tape after it snapped. Not a clean break but only a small piece for green holding it together. Surprisingly it continued to grow.

This year we chose cherry tomatoes. As the fruit is so small, we thought the plants would be too. We definitely underestimated their size and they have far out-striped their bbq skewer support canes. Currently a system of garden twine and duct tape is
securing them to our window.

We have grown jalepeno, habenero and  hungarian black chillies. 

The jalepeno's we started from seed. Last December after months of growing we finally tasted our first home grown chillies. They were so bland I think we used all 6 chillies the plant produced in one dish and still couldn't feel any spice. This plant also failed to survive the winter.
Where-as the habenero didn't produce any chillies last summer, it survived the winter, is thriving and producing its second lot of very spicey chillies this year. 

The hungarian black chillies are still developing but they have been a prime example of how edible plants can be just as beautiful as those bought for display.  

Due to our lack of space we potted our beans in two hanging baskets, using a disused curtain rail for support. As they produce a lot of leaves and lots of pods they make for good decoration and for good dinners. We have also strung fairy lights through them, which makes for pretty lighting all year round.

Our least successful plants have been those species hardy enough to survive the Irish weather. Spring onions, kale and spinach have all produced beautiful seedlings which we have transplanted only to watch them struggle and finally whither.

An exception to this rule, seems to be our raspberry cane. Yes a single cane, planted in a milking bucket, which is currently bearing flowers and fruit. Fingers crossed it survives.

Next week we will talk a bit more about the techniques we used in growing and maintaining the plants.

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