Tag Archives: growing food

growing food

My fingers are a bit raw from scrubbing to get the soil out from under my nails. I had forgotten how dirty gardening is. Or how good it feels to spend a few hours outside digging in the dirt. Time for an update on my balcony garden!
tomatoes. little home by hand blog.
The tomato seedlings are coming along well and are in the hardening off stage already.
blooming. little home by hand blog.
We (meaning person, animal and plant) have been soaking up every last bit of sunshine and warmth and the apple tree is gratefully pushing out blossoms. I take this as a very good sign that there will be more than one apple (last year’s harvest) this time.
balcony gardening. little home by hand blog.
balcony gardening. little home by hand blog.
The peas are poking their cute first leaves through the soil. Yes, I just called peas cute. Such a proud plant mama. I made them a trellis from some leftover pieces since I couldn’t find a suitable mesh but I’ll still need to hunt down some sticks in the woods to add to it.
balcony flowers. little home by hand blog.
balcony flowers. little home by hand blog.
A few early flowers are really brightening the space up while all the other plants and flowers are just getting started.
salad. little home by hand blog.
kale. little home by hand blog.
In addition to starting the tomatoes and peppers inside in my light box the more cold hardy crops have been doing well in a little foil greenhouse outside.
The salad boxes are overflowing and in dire need to be thinned out and the kale is ready to move into its own window box as well.
Hard to describe how satisfying it is to watch all these seedlings growing strong and big. A very primal feeling of content. We may be creatures of polished office work and smartphones by day but doing things by hand – be it growing food, or knitting, sewing, woodworking, building, you name it – is a need that runs deep.


eating homegrown a.k.a gardening 2011 – part 4

Our balcony is overflowing with green and it changes so rapidly all the time that I barely get a chance to photograph it all!
The peas and beans and strawberries are done for the year but the melons and zucchini and cucumbers fill every available space with pretty yellow flowers.

The big surprise success have been the sugar snap peas. Boy, were those delicious! I have never been a big fan of peas but there really is nothing comparable to the taste of a freshly picked sugar snap pea, their sweetness is out of this world!

We will definitely be growing 3 times as many next year.
A big motivation for growing a balcony garden this year has been that we want to eat better and fresher. And we find that we do which is a bit of a surprise to us. We don’t so much try fancy new recipes but we tweak the simple dishes we know with homegrown produce. The snap peas we ate raw or cooked with pasta and parmesan cheese. Topped with fresh italian parsley it makes a simple dish a delight.

The addition of fresh herbs makes a lot of difference I find and we are trying out lots of new things this year. My favourite to look at and smell is this real italian peppermint plant, brought all the way from southern Italy by a friend whose family is from there. Even just brushing against it the scent is intense and wonderful. It’s a perennial too so we will have lots of peppermint in the years to come 🙂

The zucchini plant has all but succeeded in taking over the whole balcony, it’s that huge!

We ate the first giant zucchini last weekend, putting it in the oven with some tomatoes, onion, garlic and topped with cheese…yum!

And last but not least, all the tomatoes are carrying fruits and while it will be a couple of weeks still until they are ready they are just gorgeous to look at!

I’ll try to get a full balcony shot in the next couple of days, after I get it cleaned up a bit. Right now it’s a bit of a mess, due to having been sick followed by a couple of pretty hectic days at work. But another long weekend has just started over here and I have next week off, so plenty of time for gardening and other stuff.
Wishing you all a great weekend!

catproof seed starting light box

I’ve been talking about this forever but now things are finally up and running and I have photos of it.

One of my big plans for this year is growing as much food as we possibly can on our balcony. The first seeds are already in the ground but as the last frosts around here will be in late May I’ll need to start the bulk of my plants indoors.
There were two main obstacles to this:
1. We pretty much have only one really sunny window and setting things up there would be inconvenient for us, so I decided on starting my lovely heirloom seeds under artificial light. I wanted to get tubes but they get pretty warm and are expensive (both to buy and because they use lots of electricity) so we settled on getting LED stripes in cool white. I have no idea if the amount of light will be enough for seedlings to grow, so this spring will be a big experiment. If it doesn’t work, that still leaves the sunny window.
2. Our cats love to try anything that looks remotely edible plus they would have loved to play with the soil. Luckily I had an old aquarium up in the attic that I could use.
Ok, here’s more pictures: The wooden lid with holes so the air can circulate and a handle for easy lifting. Plus it also takes a full sized cat with no trouble.

The seedlings need to be directly under the light, so as you can see in the first photo we’ve been stacking up styrofoam boxes so they are high enough. As the seedlings grow, we’ll take the styrofoam away one at a time.
Here I lifted the lid so you can see the LED lights in action. They are much much brighter than the photo suggests though!

And here’s the lid when the lights are out. A colleague of my boyfriend’s soldered in the lights for us. The stripes are also self-adhesive.

I decided on starting my seeds in newspaper pots, which can go into the ground with them in summer and are also free of course. Making them is a little work though.

Here’s all the little pots ready to receive their seeds. The lettuce seedlings are already a week old but everything else is sprouting this very minute.

I’ll keep you posted on the progress of course. I feel a little silly posting this in detail because I am still not sure if it will work. But I figured come summer nobody’s going to be interested in seed starting anymore anyway, so now you can just sit back and watch as I’ll try and raise healthy little plants.