Hi everyone and welcome to May!
It recently dawned on me that I have never posted anything like a “virtual tour” of my fire escape balcony, even though it is the main focus of this blog. So better now than never, this post will take care of that mistake! As always, my intent is to show you the real thing, not the instagram-perfect version of my garden, so you will see occasional empty pots, brooms and garden twine lying around.
The entrance to the balcony is located in the kitchen, and there is also a window facing it. You can see the grow lights working inside, illuminating my army of carrot bottles. The worm house sits right here, next to the kitchen door, so feeding the wigglers is very easy. This is the North side of my balcony, so as shady as it gets, and not a lot of things do well here. This Deadnettle seems happy, though, which is great, because above it is my solitary bee house!
I wont’t go into much detail about the bees in this post, because they deserve more attention, and they will get it soon! I’ll just say that I purchased a solitary spring and summer bee kit from a wonderful company called Crown Bees, and I am very happy with my new fuzzy friends!
I have said it many times, but it’s worth repeating: a water source is a must, if you want to support wildlife in your garden. Especially in summer, it is even more important than food. Remember, however, to make sure that it is safe for the tiniest critters, so that they don’t drown! This is why I have this rock and a cork floating in the water. Corks are especially good for bees and other insects.
Now we are facing the East, and you can very much appreciate the amount of shade I get from the the balcony roof 😦 In the morning, however, this area gets decent amount of sun, especially the plants that are located higher up.
This prime spot is reserved for strawberries, lavender and thyme. Can you spot the first lavender bloom and the ripening strawberry?
There used to be more thyme here, but as you can see, the evil squirrels got to it…
On the floor of the “West wing” I have some scented geraniums, beans and lettuce. There is also an empty planter where I plan to seed some orach this weekend.
This is the North-Western part, where I have some potatoes and beans, praying that they will be happy with the amount of sun they get…
Moving on to the South, there are lots of young leafy greens (mizuna, bok choy), calendula, garlic, cilantro and scented geraniums. In the background you can see our building’s dumpster, but guess what? When the plants are bigger, you can’t see it anymore, and you definitely can’t smell it! It is, however, a solid guarantee that the squirrels are here to stay…
I keep the potting mixes (general use and green wall) and compost in big plastic buckets, and keep some planters on top of these buckets, to save space.
Seems I have found my favorite bok choy variety: Tatsoi! (next to cilantro)
The long South side ends with the Eastern green wall #1. The rest of South side has two vertical gutter planters with strawberries, big planters with black currants and some flowering brassicas, and a little nursery, where I am hardening off my starts (soon to be planted in the community garden bed, and then a big pot with leafy greens will reside here). On the North side (yes, we’ve made a full circle), next to the fire escape door, is my potting bench, which is a repurposed IKEA changing table with some squirrel repellents I am currently testing and a single hellebore, which I hope to see in flower next winter.
Here are some planters from green wall #1 with Cos lettuce…
…and Alaska variegated nasturtiums.
You may have noticed that I have broken apart the green wall #2 and spread the gutter planters along the South side. The reason is the low light: even though this is the South side, the building next to us blocks most of the sun, so only the top gutter planter was receiving any sunlight…
Have you ever seen blooming kale? Now you have! I keep it for the bees- they love it.
Sadly, the black currant seems to be dropping flowers… I am heart broken, but hopefully this is just because the plant is so young and won’t happen next year. For now, at least I have the fragrant leaves!
Felix is my ever-reliable feline gardening companion!
I also have a couple of planters seeded with the “Made in the shade” seed mix from Botanical Interests. For now it’s all green little sprouts, but hopefully there will be some flowers eventually.
So here it is, my Fire Escape Garden! How does it look? I’d love to hear (or read, actually) your thoughts!