Tag Archives: tomato

Recap on the garden 2015

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Hi everybody, it has been a while since my last post on my balcony garden.

I did not get to do as many posts as I wanted last season. Sometimes everyday life just ticks on and you are caught up in doing everyday things and that is what happened to me last season. So I thought that I would give a recap on how the 2015 garden season went before starting the 2016 season.

I thought I would start where I left off with the tomatoes and peppers being ready for their final pots. They looked really good and ready to go out into the world or just on the balcony.

Tomatoes and peppers ready to go into the balcony garden
Tomatoes and peppers ready to go into the balcony garden

I waited until middle of May and I thought the weather was perfect for putting the plants on the balcony. It turns out I was very wrong. The very night I put out the plants a great storm with very strong winds and hail hit Copenhagen. That storm just beat and battered my plants and the next morning not much was left. I was devastated and a bit heartbroken.

Just after the storm
Just after the storm

After a couple of days I had to cut of most of the leaves as they had lost all structure from being battered and were crumpling.

All that was left of the garden
All that was left of the garden

There was so little left I did not know if I would have a garden season or not. I was contemplating sowing new tomatoes and peppers but it was so late in the season. Eventually I decided to put my faith in the plants recovering and see how it would turn out.

It took two months for them to recover but they came back strong and I did get a garden.

The garden in July
The garden in July

The tomatoes even produced quite decently given the circumstances. The peppers didn’t ever really recover and only gave a couple of small peppers toward the end of the season. My experiment with tomatillos also produced a good amount of fruit.

Tomatoes and tomatillos in the garden
Tomatoes and tomatillos in the garden

What else happened in the 2015 season

I made elderflower cordial as I always do in June. I have a park close to where I live away from the roads where I usually get my flowers and turn them into lovely cordial. If you want the recipe you can find it here: Elderflower cordial

Elderflower codial
Elderflower codial

I also made red currant jelly from berries I got from my mother in law. It is a favorite in our house both on bread but also in sauces especially for Christmas. Maybe I will do a post with recipe at a later date.

Red currant gele
Red currant jelly

I put most of my herbs on the walkway in front of my flat to share with my neighbors. We can’t use all the herbs our selves son why not share them. It is a very good way to meet your neighbors and have a little chat.

Herb garden in front
Herb garden in front
Herb garden in front
Herb garden in front

I made tomato sauce for the winter season of some of the tomatoes and I pickled tomatillos, tomatoes and the last of my apples.

2015-09-27 18.26.03

Pickled goodies
Pickled goodies

I ended the season with the annual seed saving. I decided to take seeds from this seasons tomatoes as they proved to be incredibly hardy. They kicked that storms a.. and produced great tomatoes anyway. A great quality in a plant – that is a keeper.

Making tomato sauce and savng seeds at the same time
Making tomato sauce and saving seeds at the same time
Tomato seeds from the garden put on coffee filters to dry
Tomato seeds from the garden put on coffee filters to dry

What happens now?

I have started my tomatoes, peppers, one chili and a cucumber and I was looking forward to getting started. I will show you in the next post.

Unfortunately we just got notice that our facade will be undergoing renovation from March until October and my balcony might be covered and occupied by workers for the entire summer. No, no, no… Not happy…

I am going to talk to the superintendant to hear more about the exact plans for the renovation. Best case scenario is if they start where we live or end where we live so I can still have somewhat of a garden season. Worst case scenario is me exploring how much you can grow indoors with a great big scaffolding blocking the windows and the light. I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Happy growing season 2016 – Sara

 

 

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The spring season of 2015 starts indoors

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This is the time when the indoor spring season starts – at least for me. Some might say it is still too early and you will only get long and spindly seedlings due to the lack of light. Last year I started 2 weeks earlier than this year and the seedlings turned out great. You also have to take your available space in to consideration. I have great big windows that let in a lot of light. That helps with getting healthy and strong seedlings.

Windows in my living room.
Windows in my living room.

My season started with the arrival of new seeds from the seed swap I participated in through my garden group: The Vertical Veg Club with seeds coming from all over the World.

Seeds from the seed swap.
Seeds from the seed swap for te spring season.

Among the seeds were some catnip seeds. That made the envelope a cat magnet and she had a lot of fun with that envelope. I thought it was hilarious.

My cat Luna trying to get in to the envelope.
My cat Luna trying to get in to the envelope.

Now that I have most of the seeds I need for the season I make a plant overview. I think back on the last season and evaluate last year’s choices. This year I have chosen to focus on tomatoes, peppers and herbs as my primary crop. I also want to add more flowers and make room for experimenting with new sorts. Quite a few things didn’t make the cut this year; no potatoes, no beets, no carrots, no squash, no Edemame beans, no Stevia.

So I ended up with 12 types of tomatoes, 4 types of peppers, tomatillos, my first try with melon, lots of herbs, lots of different salads, beans, pea shots, onions, lots of flowers, dwarf sunflowers, rhubarbs and my apple tree. I have based my choices on yield and what crops I actually enjoy and use.

My plant overview so far.
My plant overview so far for the spring season.

The first thing you need to start of your indoor season is soil. I try to recycle as much of my soil as possible but for my seedlings I always get fresh soil from the garden store. I find that it gives the seedlings a good start in life. Usually I get soil meant for organic gardening as I try to keep my garden as natural as possible.

I live in a big city so I don’t own a car and probably never will. So I use my trusty bike to get my supplies and you will be amazed how much you can get home on a bike. This is two 50 liter bags of soil and 10 kg of organic fertilizer for preparing the recycled soil for use. The 10 kg bag in my bicycle basket and the two bags of soil on the back with a string to secure them in place. After a good walk with my bike I got the soil and fertilizer to my front door on the third floor.

Two 50 litre bags of soil and 10 kg of fertiliser.
Two 50 liter bags of soil and 10 kg of fertilizer.

Pots and lots of pots are the next thing you need. You might think that I paid a lot of money for all of this but actually all of it was free. I got the pots from a florist and the trays from a supermarket. The florist doesn’t use the plastic pots the plants come in from the nursery, they just throw them away. Where I used to live the florist saved the plastic pots in a certain spot and people were allowed to take what they needed for free. The trays were trash from the sale of flowers in the supermarket. So all of it free.

I usually clean the pots and trays before using them again to get rid of the old soil and whatever bacteria might be present.

Pots, pots, pots.
Pots, pots, pots.
Trays...
Trays…

These are the plants I am going to start indoor. They need a good head start before they get moved outside sometime in May. I am fortunate that I have a decent amount of space to keep them inside until it is warm enough outside. They get quite big towards May.

Seeds for starting indoor.
Seeds for starting indoor.

I have been told I am quite organized and I to try to keep track of what go in to which pot. So I make labels a tape them to the pot.

Seed labels.
Seed labels.

Soil, seeds, pots and trays in their proper places after a couple of hours of work. Spring season well under way.

Tomatoes, peppers, tomatillo and melon.
Tomatoes, peppers, tomatillo and melon.
Dwarf sunflowers and pots of basil and parsley.
Dwarf sunflowers and pots of basil and parsley.
Chives, different kinds of basil, rams onions and terragon.
Chives, different kinds of basil, rams onions and terragon.

I put my seeds in soil little over a week ago and so far only a little has gotten above ground. One of the peppers, the garlic chive and the very first peek of one of the basils.

Pepper.
Pepper – the very first of the spring season.
Garlic chives.
Garlic chives.
Basil peeking through.
Basil peeking through.

I hope you are getting started on your season as well – enjoy Sara

 

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Final harvest update 2014: Mid August to mid October

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It is getting well into autumn and the summer season is well over for most os us gardeners. There is still a little to be found in gardens at this time and if you are a winter gardener, you will be harvesting through winter as well. I don’t have any plans for winter gardening this winter except for the herbs I have brought inside to shield them from the winter frost and to use during the dark months here in Denmark. The sun comes up at 7.50 and it gets dark around 16.30 and the day has shortened by 9 hours. The day will get even shorter with just 7 hours of daylight at winter solstice.

I had a pretty decent harvest with most things this year. For some reason my tomatoes only did alright and not great or maybe we just ate them to quickly and it just seemed like that. This is what my 7m2 balcony garden has yielded from mid August to mid October.

August

August was a lot of tomatoes, herbs, spinach, peppers and apples. I used a lot of time this season to nuture my small apple tree. I gave it a bigger pot in spring, played bee with a small brush to spread the pollen around, removed 2/3 of the apples that came as the tree can’t support that many apples. In the end I got about 50 apples or more from my 2 meter tall tree so a great success. I will be repeating the success next year to get a good yield of apples.

Spinach and herbs
Spinach and Herbs
Apples from my small apple tree.
Apples from my small apple tree – a good harvest.
Tomatoes, herbs and salad.
Tomatoes, herbs and salad.
Tomatoes, peppers, salad and spinach.
Tomatoes, peppers, salad and spinach.
Spinach, tomatoes, pepper, salad and apples.
A harvest of spinach, tomatoes, pepper, salad and apples.

September

September was about harvesting the green tomatoes for ripening inside, harvesting spinach for the freezer and enjoying what is rapidly becoming the last produce and harvest of the season.

Tomatoes, peppers, salad, spinach and herbs.
Tomatoes, peppers, salad, spinach and herbs.
Tomatoes.peppers, salad, beetroot leaves, apples, spinach and oregano.
Tomatoes, peppers, salad, beetroot leaves, apples, spinach and oregano.

On the 23 of September I went through my tomatoes and picked almost all of them as the frost was peaking its head through. Ironically that was the only frost we would see for a while and now in November we are having one of the warmest Novembers in a long long time. I used apples and bowls in the sun to ripen my tomatoes. I have heard that only tomatoes just on the verge of going red can be ripened inside. I have found that to be false. All the tomatoes on the table ripened fine with the use of apples and bowls in the sun. The apples give of a gas that ripens the tomatoes, you can use organic bananas as well. So remember to harvest your green tomatoes as well both for ripening and for pickling.

Lots and lots of tomatoes.
Lots and lots of tomatoes – harvest of the green tomatoes.
The tomatoes look so beautiful in their different colors-
The tomatoes look so beautiful in their different colors-
The tomatoes put in bowls make you realize just how many there are.
The tomatoes put in bowls make you realize just how many there are.

My New Zealand spinach got really big this year as it does every year. I always seem to forget just how big and this year was no different. I brought it inside to harvest the leaves, seeds and stems to use at later date for cooking broth. I only harvested half in this go but I got 7 bags for the freezer.

The New Zealand spinach before the big harvest.
The New Zealand spinach before the big harvest.
Harvested about half of the spinach.
Harvested about half of the spinach.
7 bags of spinach for the freezer and stems for cooking broth.
7 bags of spinach for the freezer and stems for cooking broth.

October

October has been about getting the last of the produce out of the ground and of the plants before getting the garden ready for winter. That means saving the last of the salad seeds, getting the beetroots and carrots out of the ground and picking the very last tomatoes as I chopped down the plants into small pieces and put them in bags.

Salad seed pots for drying.
Salad seed pots for drying.

As the weather stayed mild it turned out that there was a lot more tomatoes on the plants, than I though. Yummy as you can’t harvest enough tomatoes-

The very last tomatoes on the plants.
The very last tomatoes on the plants.
The rest of the green tomatoes.
The very last of the green tomato harvest.

The beetroots gave a really good yield this season. At the start of the season I transplanted the seedlings that stood to close to spaces where there were none and I wasn’t sure it would work. It worked really well and I had harvested some of the big ones during the season. The end yield was still more than 800 grams. I decided to harvest some of the leaves for the freezer as well as they are taste and good for you.

The rest of the beetroots.
The rest of the beetroots.
Just over 800 grams of beetroots.
Just over 800 grams of beetroots.
Beetroot leaves for the freezer.
Beetroot leaves for the freezer.
About 200 grams of beetroot leaves.
About 200 grams of beetroot leaves.

The carrots did better than expected though they generally don’t get that long and the peppers were a surprise. I did not expect them to yield so well. I did find that you have to start picking your peppers as early as you can. The plant can only support a certain number of fruits, so if you want it to keep flowering and setting more fruit, you have to pick the peppers.

A god yield of carrots.
A god harvest of carrots.
The rest of the pepper harvest.
The rest of the pepper harvest.

Happy growing – Sara

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Saving your favorite seeds for the next season

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The summer is turning into autumn and soon the days will get darker and darker and we will miss the sun. The plants are getting ready for the winter and starting to seed. This is the time to start planning for next year and that means taking stock of the season and finding out what seeds to save for next year.

I want to save some of this season’s successes and hopefully repeat them next year.

Tomatoes

One of the winners this year was my “chocolate berry” cherry tomato and “brown berry” cherry tomato.

A mix of "brown berry" and "chocolate berry" - they look very alike. So I had to be carefull when taking the seeds to get the right one.
A mix of “brown berry” and “chocolate berry” – they look very alike. So I had to be careful when taking the seeds to get the right one.

They are just delicious and so full of flavor. They grow well and produce a really good amount of tomatoes. There is a little work involved in saving tomato seeds as they have a protective coating or skin around them when you take them from the tomato. I have found that the easiest way to get rid of the skin is to put them in my mouth and use my teeth. I used to this a lot as a kid just for fun. Who would have thought that would come in handy. You can save them with the skin; I have not found it makes a difference but they don’t stick together if much if you remove the skin.

Chocolate berry seeds.
Chocolate berry seeds.

Peppers

Another winner this year is my red peppers. I had 2 different sorts; “sweet banana” and “Alma paprika”. My favorite is the “sweet banana” as it does indeed have a great sweet flavor. They have both yielded well and the “Alma paprika” is still flowering and setting fruits well into September.

The long one is "sweet banana# and the other "Alma paprika".
The long one is “sweet banana# and the other “Alma paprika”.

It is very easy to save the seeds from the peppers. You just set the inside of the pepper aside to dry. When dry you just pick of the seeds and save them.

"Sweet banana" seeds.
“Sweet banana” seeds.

The seeds have a lovely color and from just a couple of fruits you can get enough seeds to last you years. Not all seeds can be saved for years but I have not had any trouble with peppers or tomatoes. If you experience that your seeds won’t grow maybe it is time to save some new ones.

"Sweet banana" seeds.
“Sweet banana” seeds.

New Zealand spinach (NZ spinach)

NZ spinach.
NZ spinach.

This is one of my all time favorites. It has small but very meaty leaves and a great taste. I have had normal spinach as well but have chosen to only keep the NZ spinach. If you compare it to normal spinach:

  1. Normal spinach has some lovely leaves early on, but when the leaves grow bigger they can become bitter. NZ spinach grows small leaves all season and never becomes bitter.
  2. If you want a steady supply of normal spinach you have to keep planting. The NZ spinach just keeps growing and gives you more leaves without having to plant any more.
  3. I have had a lot of trouble with pests in normal spinach; especially black aphids that just cover almost all of the plant. I have so far (3 seasons) not had any pests in my NZ spinach.

My NZ spinach seeds so much I have a supply for years.

NZ spinach seeds. They look very funny.
NZ spinach seeds. They look very funny.

Just dry them and you will a good supply for the coming seasons. A funny fact about the seeds is that you will get 3-4 plants from one seed.

NZ spinach seeds.
Dry NZ spinach seeds.

 Salad

I planted a variety of spicy and Asian salads this year and I have let some of them go to seed.

Salad gone to seed.
Salad gone to seed.

They look lovely and the honey bees are still buzzing to get the last of the pollen. The salad sets seedpods which are the ones you dry.

Salad seed pods.
Salad seed pods.

When they are dry you take them out of the pods and save them for next year. I just bunch them all together so I will get a variety of different salads. Remember to only choose seeds from plants that have the qualities you like.

Dry salad seed pods.
Dry salad seed pods.
Salad seeds and pods for discarding.
Salad seeds and pods for discarding.

Herbs

I like to save some seeds from my herbs; especially the annual herbs you have to plant each year. Some of the ones I save are; basil, lemon basil, oregano and maybe not technically a herb Stevia. I was very lucky that my Stevia flowered this year so I could save the seeds.

Stevia flowers with seeds.
Stevia flowers with seeds.
Basil flowers and seeds.
Basil flowers and seeds.
Lemon basil flowers and seeds.
Lemon basil flowers and seeds.
Oregano flowers and seeds.
Oregano flowers and seeds.

I dry them and separate the seeds from the plant parts; well sometimes I do; sometimes I don’t. I leave the basil seeds in their pods as it is too much work to get them out. It does take a little longer for the seed to sprout because the moisture has to go through the pods first but as long as you know that it is not a problem; at least not for me.

You can save all kinds of seed but you have to check that the plant is not a F1 hybrid. The F1 hybrids do not give on their qualities to their seeds; the F1 hybrids are created to only last one season and then you have to buy it Again. So look for old sorts and heirloom sorts for saving. It will say on the package if it is a F1 hybrid.

Enjoy your seed saving – Sara

 

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2 Harvest update 2014: potatoes, beetroots, carrots, peppers, spinach, onions, herbs, zucchini, strawberries and lots and lots of tomatoes

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This is the second harvest post and my oh my the balcony garden has yielded a lot since the last harvest post. This is the most productive period of the garden and I am able to harvest something almost every day.

I had a friend over a couple of days ago and we made a lovely salad out of the produce from my garden. She was very amazed that the produce from my garden has its own smell. The different tomatoes smell different; some have a sweet smell, others have a spicy smell and even the pepper has its own smell. She had brought a couple of store bought tomatoes and a pepper and she commented that they don’t smell. I thought that was quite fantastic.

Harvest: lots of tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, beetroots, peppers, spinach, beetroot leaves, strawberries, onions, zucchini and a lot of herbs

23rd of Juli

Harvested potatoes, beetroots, carrots and tomatoes for a steak dinner with potato salad and a beetroot, carrot and tomato salad. It was very yum… You can see the recipe here: From garden to dinner 2014: Steak with potato salad and a carrot, beetroot and tomato salad 

Potatoes for potato salad
Potatoes for potato salad
Beetroots and carrots
Beetroots and carrots
Purple beef tomatoes
Purple beef tomatoes

1st of August

Harvested lovely tomatoes of various sorts; a couple of Black Russians (large dark ones), Brown Beery and Chocolate Cherry(drop shaped ones), Tiny Tims (small red ones), Yellow Currants( small yellow ones) and ‘Costoluto Genovese’ beef( large red ones). This is the first big harvest of tomatoes this season. Despite the very warm weather it feels like the tomato season has started late. I started the season planting inside in early spring but on the good side the season will last longer.

They made a fantastic salad.

Tomatoes of various sorts
Tomatoes of various sorts

3rd of August

I have 2 window boxes with forest strawberries. I managed to kill of one of them by overwatering, but the other one is producing well. About once a week I collect a handful of berries; sometimes more and I am collecting them in my freezer to make something of when I have enough.

Forest strawberries
Forest strawberries

5th of August

Some of my peppers are finally ready to eat. I have been watching them closely and waiting for them to turn red. They finally have. I have 2 sorts; ‘Alma Paprika’ and ‘Sweet Banana’. There are a good number of tomatoes, mostly the cherry varieties. This is Tiny Tim, Yellow Currant, Brown Berry and Chocolate Cherry

2 sorts of peppers
2 sorts of peppers
Tomatoes
Tomatoes

7th of August

Harvested a bit of Basil, a couple of purple beef tomatoes and Spring onions. If you leave spring onions they will grown into a bulb like normal onions. They have a lovely flavor and are very pretty for an onion. All this went into the chopper to make a sort of relish to use in homemade burgers. Another yum…

Spring onions, beef tomatoes and Basil
Spring onions, beef tomatoes and Basil

 8th of August

Harvested a good bunch of my chocolate mint and Lemon balm to make into cordial. I will make a separate post with the recipe at a later date.

Chocolate mint and Lemon balm
Chocolate mint and Lemon balm

I also harvested a good deal to make into a lovely pasta sauce. I will make a separate post with the recipe at a later date. This is ‘Costoluto Genovese’ tomatoes, a zucchini, spinach, peppers, Basil, Lemon Basil and Oregano.

Ingredients for the pastasauce
Ingredients for the pasta sauce

12th of August

Harvested tomatoes; Brown Beery, Chocolate Cheery and Black Russian with a Little bit of Lemon Basil and Spinach for a nice salad.

Tomatoes, Lemon Basil and Spinach
Tomatoes, Lemon Basil and Spinach
More tomatoes
More tomatoes

14th of August

Harvested Tiny Tim tomatoes, peppers, beetroot leaves, spinach and spring onions to use in pita pockets with ground organic pork seasoned with curry. Yum yum.

Ingredients for pita pockets
Ingredients for pita pockets

What am I waiting for?

There are a couple of things I am watching and waiting for:

1. More peppers – there are of lot of yellow ones just waiting to turn red

Peppers waiting to turn red
Peppers waiting to turn red

2. More tomatoes of the cherry variety

Tomatoes on my tomato wall
Tomatoes on my tomato wall

3. Beef tomatoes – most of them are just now starting to get color and I can’t wait to use them

Beef tomatoes
Beef tomatoes
Beef tomatoes
Beef tomatoes

4. Edemame beans – I am waiting for it to flower. They have to be planted late in the season when the ground is warm and only 3 of 20 survived a downpour a couple of days after I planted them.

Edemame beans
Edemame beans

5. Harvest New Zealand spinach – it has grown so much and is taking up a lot of space. It is seeding and I need to collect them.

New Zealand spinach on my balcony
New Zealand spinach on my balcony
New Zealand spinach on the walkway by my front door
New Zealand spinach on the walkway by my front door

 

Happy growing – Sara

 

 

 

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