where there’s a will there’s a way

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At our previous [much-loved & still missed after 3 years] apartment we had not a lot of space but conducive enough environment at least to grow a few pots of culinary herbs, and flowers.

Our current apartment features generous balcony space with sunny north-east aspect but overlooks a city train line, the ballast dust from which means nothing survives other than succulents, and hardy geraniums that have few flowers but which I maintain as it appears the leaves are a desirable food source for caterpillars… that the native Noisy Miner birds enjoy… every thing has to eat.

Hardy city apartment balcony potted garden… train line in the background

During last month’s necessities trip to the supermarket I spotted a Jamie’s Garden Mini Green House for kids on sale for $5.  The G.O. watched with amusement as I spent a fun Sunday morning hour assembling it, applying stickers and planting way too many seeds onto the coir matt. My logic was the roof of the greenhouse would keep out the nasty ballast. And sure enough, within days there were tiny sprouts of green.

It started with Jamie's Garden... and wouldn't have been right without stickers
It started with Jamie’s Garden… and wouldn’t have been right without stickers

Of course, this success this wasn’t sufficient so running with it I purchased one, then another, big clear plastic storage tub with lid that I employed the G.O. to cut flaps in… I’m banned from very sharp implements due to my cack-handedness. I assembled odd containers and potting mix, added seeds to finally create a modest, but oh so gratifying to a frustrated gardener, productive edible space.

Tubs planted with pots of watercress, basil, rocket, mixed herbs, spinach, parsley, cress and coriander

The one small garden of a free gardener was all his need and due, not a garden swollen to a realm; his own hands to use, not the hands of others to command.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Sam Gamgee

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34 thoughts on “where there’s a will there’s a way

    mybrightlife said:
    August 11, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    How clever!!

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 6:19 am

      Thank you 🙂 Small but handy for snipping some greens.

      Like

    anne54 said:
    August 11, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    I can understand how satisfying it must be. What a good use of those tubs — clever you! The Jamie Oliver greenhouses are very cute, but your tubs are far more inventive.

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 6:22 am

      The J,O. greenhouses would be great for kids as the cress came up very quickly 🙂 It’s nice to be able to grow something.

      Like

    davidprosser said:
    August 11, 2014 at 10:19 pm

    Well played. That’s a great idea.I confess I’d be tempted to leave one plant out to keep the caterpillars and miner birds coming. I can’t think of another way I’d get a bird at my age.
    xxx Mega Hugs xxx

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 6:24 am

      Not true, you have a huge fan club 🙂 I like to think of the tubs as a DIY salad bar.

      Like

    Glenda said:
    August 12, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Very smart Ella.

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 6:25 am

      Thank you 🙂 Desperation is the mother-in-law of invention…

      Like

    Kourtney Heintz said:
    August 12, 2014 at 2:05 am

    These are adorable. I love your inventiveness with the tubs too!

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 6:27 am

      It’s only taken me 3 years, and stealing an idea from J.O. to think of it. Entrepreneurial, I’m not 🙂

      Like

    ardysez said:
    August 12, 2014 at 10:52 am

    Ingenious EllaDee! Don’t know what I would do without my herb garden! A cook just has to have one!

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      Thank you 🙂 Up until now I have been making do with buying pots of kitchen herbs, utilising the complex’s communal herb garden offerings – never reliable, and contributing to the financial viability of Newtown Garden Centre via my trial and mostly error efforts.

      Like

    ardysez said:
    August 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

    And BTW, it doesn’t matter how you got there, you got there! x

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 1:22 pm

      True… I had considered a small greenhouse from Bunnings but while the balcony is fairly spacious, it’s not that big and that option I decided would be cumbersome & overkill. This was a simple see how it goes exercise. I can also see how in the future it would be good for growing micro salad and sprouting seedlings at TA during the frosty winters.

      Like

    Eha said:
    August 12, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Kudos for greening your balcony successfully and usefully . . . . am certain you can dream ahead for when you will have all the room in the world up north 🙂 ! Am so spoilt by golden silence here in the bush that, methinks, trains rushing past would take awhile to be absorbed into an unheard outside world . . .

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 1:24 pm

      It’s amazing how much we missed those few pots of herbs and flowers we were able to have at the old apartment, and the relative silence. And no, you wouldn’t, we haven’t ever gotten accustomed to the noise. Trips away to the country are all the sweeter for the silence.

      Like

    Vicky said:
    August 12, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    What a fabulous idea.
    I seem to be growing all my veggies for the local slugs (I’m sure there’s a signpost directing them to ‘Vic’s Diner’), perhaps I need to take a leaf out of your book 😀

    Like

      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 7:29 pm

      Thank you 🙂 Good point. Despite the rail ballast, and my best efforts with the potted plants we still have caterpillars and aphids. Hopefully the tubs will be a barrier, for me, and for you 🙂

      Like

    acflory said:
    August 12, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Wow… now that is enterprising times 10! Well done. And an added benefit is that you keep the snails, slugs and other nasties out as well. I’m so impressed I’ve started casting greedy eyes at a couple of my big storage tubs…. 😀

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 12, 2014 at 7:38 pm

      I dream of a lovely glass greenhouse but if a tubs are a workable reality I’m prepared to set aside my delusions of grandeur and go with practical, and cheap 🙂

      Like

        acflory said:
        August 14, 2014 at 8:51 pm

        I’m definitely going to give it a try with my lettuce. When I first grew lettuce on my deck there were no snails. Now the little bastards have learned where the good stuff is and I have to pick them off everything. :/

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          EllaDee responded:
          August 15, 2014 at 6:11 am

          Pour the snails a beer… in a deep container or pot saucer. They will flock to it, drink and drown. Or you could get ducks, or persuade a blue tongue lizzie to hang out 🙂

          Like

          acflory said:
          August 15, 2014 at 7:38 pm

          I like the sound of that but methinks I’d need a bath tub full of beer. Last year we seemed to have a plague of them and I’ve already found heaps wintering over in my vegie garden.

          Like

    Bill said:
    August 12, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Yay! I’m looking forward to seeing photos of the greenhouse filled with green goodness. 🙂

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 13, 2014 at 6:32 am

      Me too 🙂 But I’ll be happy for now with a few pots of greens to snip.

      Like

    philosophermouseofthehedge said:
    August 13, 2014 at 1:01 am

    How did we live without plastic tubs – so many uses. This is a great idea! Might work during winter here during extreme cold for tender yard plants or plants I haul in and out or the garage.

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 13, 2014 at 6:35 am

      We have no shortage of plastic tubs, and washing baskets for storage. Handily they fit under the bed in our space lacking apartment. I find the lids are quite fragile, so maybe you could put spare lidless clear tubs over the garden plants to protect them.

      Liked by 1 person

    Richard Guest said:
    August 13, 2014 at 5:33 am

    Brilliant – I’m intrigued about you cack-handedness.

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 13, 2014 at 6:38 am

      Thank you 🙂 Cack-handedness… 25 years later the scar near my left hand first knuckle where the knife went to the bone while cutting up pumpkin remains as a reminder…

      Like

        Richard Guest said:
        August 13, 2014 at 7:43 am

        Ooch ouch! OK, that’s that covered…

        Like

    safia said:
    August 13, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Brilliant! There is definitely a plant for every position but you’ve excelled yourself with this lot. What a great idea to use the plastic tubs.

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      EllaDee responded:
      August 13, 2014 at 9:09 am

      Thank you 🙂 It’s amazing what a combination of frustration and desperation will achieve…

      Like

    roughseasinthemed said:
    August 28, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    I’m impressed with those. I’ve only tried one herb in Gibflat, seagull stripped it bare. Might try again come winter, but will prob put bags/bottles over.

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      EllaDee responded:
      September 1, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Thank you. Added bonus is that we’ve been away for a week+ and the plants are fine. Bags & bottles over work well too.

      Like

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