A Winter Garden Update

Ignoring the tomato photos, it has been quite a while since I’ve updated. I actually had to go and look at my last update (end of September) to see where I left off.  Lots of the plants I had when I last wrote have gone to new homes, and I’ve gained a few as well. I think the total count at the moment is 30 plants and 10 cuttings, so about the same.

It’s now late fall/early winter, I think. Florida seasons really throw me for a loop.  I really have no idea how to garden here. Sometimes it seems like time doesn’t pass because the changes in weather and temperature are so subtle. The most noticeable in my opinion is that it’s now tolerable to be outside on most days. My plants are particularly happy about this because it meant I could move some of them outside.

 

The currant tomato and the black cherry tomato seem to be content in their pots.  When I first potted them they grew like weeds but I think they’re slowing down now. They’ve probably run out of root space. There are quite a few tomatoes on both plants but not as many as I expected, particularly from the Black Cherry (I’m basing my expectations on my experience growing them a few summers ago. I really have no experience with the currant tomato, so no expectations for that plant). I think the reason may be that, in living on the 10th floor, not many pollinators make it up to my plants. I have been “hand-pollinating” the flowers when I go out to check on the plants, which basically consists of me touching and shaking the flowers. Between that and me caressing the tomatoes to see if they’re ripe enough, I’m sure my neighbors think I’m crazy.

 

Sharing a balcony with the Black Cherry Tomato are my rosemary, thyme, and oregano plants. The rosemary absolutely loves the weather right now and seems to grow half an inch a week. The oregano is trying to spread out but isn’t finding any dirt outside its pot, and the thyme is starting to look like a miniature tree. I have a sickly looking basil plant (not sure what’s wrong with it) that’s keeping the currant tomato company on the other balcony and another that will be joining it shortly.

 

Speaking of trees, the apple trees are now between 6” – 12” tall. The fifth seed decided to sprout after it heard me talking about repotting the other 4 seedlings. It’s still the smallest tree but is also one of the straightest. It’s very interesting to watch how trees grow. Mine are beginning to form what looks like bark on their lower stems.

 Key Lime seedling

After another two months of seemingly no change, I decided to change the soil my lime tree was potted in. Boy do I wish I had done it sooner. In the ten days since I did it the little guy has all but doubled its leaf mass.

 

The strawberries finally reached a size where I could transplant them into bigger pots safely. They seem to be enjoying not having to share space with each other and are continuing to grow well. The biggest are now about two inches tall.

 I have one remaining lemon balm plant that I held back from the Community Garden sale (which was a success, both in selling plants and learning how to run a plant sale). It’s still too small to harvest leaves for tea, but it’s big enough that I now feel okay ruffling its leaves to get that wonderful lemon smell.

Cuttings and Grafted Cactus in window sill

As for the rest of my apartment, I gave an African violet to a friend (and received a pretty journal and book about going off the grid in return). My remaining African violet finally got big enough that it started to thin out its lower leaves that weren’t getting much light. I gained an English ivy plant and a Christmas cactus, both of which I’m not quite sure what to do with. Other than African violets, I don’t have a lot of experience with houseplants. I still have the grafted cactus, and it’s watching over the English ivy and African violet cuttings in my bedroom window. I’m hoping the cuttings grow into healthy plants that can be sold at the spring plant sale. I have some cilantro and dill I sowed about a week ago and they’re just now starting to sprout.

Now that finals are over (YAY!) I should have a bit more energy to devote to my gardening. I’m planning on starting some more tomato seeds to plant this spring, and trying to grow more Christmas cacti from cuttings. We’ll see how it goes.

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2 thoughts on “A Winter Garden Update

  1. So…what’s the highest floor that pollinators visit? The 4th floor? Maybe you could find out by giving tomato plants to a few random people on each floor. That would be a neat experiment and then your neighbors would think you’re even weirder.

    Bees certainly pollinate flowers that are several stories high on trees. But when a tree blooms I suppose a trail of flowers is created for bees to follow. Kinda like Dorothy following the golden path in the wizard of oz. Actually, some tomato varieties can be pretty pendent. So maybe you could grow a really long hanging tomato plant from your balcony like that one fairy tale character with the really long hair…Rapunzel.

    Hmmm… or maybe you could you create a vertical daisy chain of hanging tomato plants. It would be easy enough to set up a drip system and I don’t think all the neighbors beneath you would mind. But you probably couldn’t blame them if they reached out of their balcony and stole your tomatoes. Don’t get greedy…you don’t need that many tomatoes anyways. You just need to create a corridor of flowers for pollinators to follow.

    And now I’m really interested to know which hanging plant could hang down the longest. That would be another neat experiment. Or maybe a cool contest? Your Christmas cactus probably wouldn’t win…but maybe some other epiphytic cacti could be contenders. How many of your neighbors would be willing to participate in this contest? I’d like to see a building where every balcony has long hanging plants. I think all the other buildings would be jealous.

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    • I don’t know what the highest floor that pollinators visit is. I definitely got a few bees on the 10th floor. I imagine it depends on the pollinator. You’re right, it would be a good experiment. Unfortunately the building didn’t allow me to have anything hanging off of my balcony for fear of it falling on unsuspecting persons below and causing legal troubles. I didn’t know any of my neighbors (the joys of living in the same building with an ever-rotating group of college students, myself one of them) but more plants would have definitely been nice to see. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I no longer live in that building so my ability to experiment with 10th story gardening is rather limited.

      Wouldn’t it be a wonderful world if every balcony had plants? We can dream.

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