I've set myself a challenge to see if I can live my sustainability ideals.
I'm giving myself ONE YEAR to convert my 13th floor 30m square apartment balcony into a herb and vegetable garden that can feed 2 people all year round!
Fortunately I am blessed with a north-facing aspect ( good sun throughout the year), a greenhouse-like glass wall to trap the heat and a harbour view to entice me outside to do the gardening!
There are currently 10 herbs and vegetables flourishing on my balcony, and space - I think - for at least 20 more.
Over the next few months I will update you with my successes and failures, frustrations and breakthroughs and detail the dishes and meals I will create from my 'floating urban vegie patch'. Take a look at my current tenants.....
Curry Leaf Tree
My two-metre high Curry Leaf Tree is my proudest achievement. Rescued by my husband from near pest-annihilation 6 months ago, it is now thriving with dozens of verdant branches. In fact, it is so prolific we have even given several branches to our friend Kham who runs the Arun Thai restaurant across the road! Despite its name you don't make curry powder from curry leaves. The leaves are used as an aromatic ( like bay leaves) when making curries, pilafs and other Asian dishes. The fragrance is intoxicating! The leaves freeze well in a plastic bag.
My little pot of rocket is a magic porridge pot of non-stop leaves. This crop was planted 6 months ago from seed and gives us a daily supply of salad leaves. In Italy this variety grows like a weed along road-sides and railway tracks. Hardy with delicious peppery leaves.
My sage plant is almost four years old and, now that it is winter, it's sending out beautiful lilac flowers. It's also a rapid grower and I will probably need to re-pot it soon. I have some sweet basil tucked in here too.
Tiny Tim Tomatoes and Italian Basil
Unbelievably this tomato shrub was planted last Dec 2008 and is flowering for a second time in winter! This is a delicious variety which we use in salads and tomato sauces. I companion-planted some Italian basil to supposedly keep away white fly but that didn't work! We use the basil leaves in salads and to make fragrant pesto.
Rosemary is such a hardy herb and a survivor of many gardening abuses. Just don't water it too much. This variety grows in a cascade rather than straight up and would be a perfect rockery or ground cover herb because of its coverage. I use this for baked lambs or as herb skewers on the BBQ.
Oregano and Thyme
My oregano and thyme are doing well in a window box in the corner of the balcony. They can be thrown into just about any dish from meat, vegetables and eggs for an extra earthy pick-me-up.
This needs urgent re-potting into a larger container! Freshly picked parsley is one of life's taste sensations and will lift any dish.