Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The fruits of my labour

Don't worry readers!  I've realized that I've been blabbering on about wedding stuff for a while now!  Today we take a break from anything wedding to talk gardens.

I live in a 2nd story condo so I don't have any yard... but what I do have is a (in my opinion) very large balcony.  I've tried growing tomatoes in pots for 2 years in a row and have never had more than a tomato (or 2) come from them.  This year though... John helped me out.
hydroponic tomato plant
John has a dream of a big garden... and when I say big I mean more like BIG so I guess we are in the testing phase of a new kind of gardening this year... so that we (he) can decide if we can upgrade to a larger operation once we have a yard.  That new kind of gardening?  Hydroponics.

From my understanding hydroponics is growing things in water.  So what you are seeing above is a container (hidden behind the black one) filled with perilite (sp?) and absolutely no soil.  Water is pumped through  3 times a day for about an hour each time (I add nutrients to the water so that the tomatoes don't actually need any nutrients from the soil).  Any excess water trickles out from the bottom of the bucket (that you can't actually see - it's orange though).  The orange bucket has 2 tomato plants growing out of it.  Why 2?  We had originally bought 2 plants but then it took us (John) a while to get the hydroponics set up so the plants were looking not so lively anymore.  So we bought one more that we were certain had a decent shot at growing and put one of the other better looking ones in with it.

These plants have been through a bit though.  Improper fertilizer, insufficient power sources, broken pumps, insufficient water sources, and having to live indoors while my balcony got redone for at least 2 weeks.  But somehow they have still managed to do really well (in my opinion).

hydroponic tomatoes
Currently, however, the pump is broken.  This means that unless I water them manually (like most people do with their gardens) they don't get any water.  So three times a day I go out there and scoop water from the black smaller bucket (that already has the proper nutrients in it) into the larger orange one... when the water in the black bucket runs out (about every other day) I mix up some nutrients into some fresh water and add that.

Here is my pickings of about a week that I haven't gotten around to eating yet (I suppose I could probably stop purchasing tomatoes now).
Those cherry tomatoes come from another plant.  It isn't looking nearly as great (but give it a break, it also had to live indoors for at least 2 weeks while my balcony got finished)

I have some other plans on my balcony as well.

Left:  Lemongrass and purple calla lily mixture.  The calla lilies were doing great a couple of weeks ago which is probably when I should have taken the picture.  I think I put too many plants into the planter though.. maybe.
Right:  The pink ones I actually got from church for mother's day (all the women in the church get something - not just those with kids).  It came in an itty bitty planter so I'm pretty impressed with how well it has done!  
Behind the pink ones was a longer planter that we attempted to grow some spinach (it wasn't successful) and some swiss chard (which I already cut and made for John (I'm not really a fan of it)
I also have 2 tall white planter with just some shrubs in them... I wasn't lying about having a large balcony!

In the future I'm sure we'll have some sort of greenhouse going in our yard... John has already spoken about wanting one someday and I think it would be pretty cool to have a large abundance of fruit and veggies just growing in the yard!

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