Watching the sunrise on my balcony

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Apartment Gardening

The assembly table
Gardening has become a new love of mine. I was never that interested in it while growing up, even though I was around it 24/7. My parents owned a garden center, we had many greenhouses at my house and my mom spent more time in the garden than any person I know. Still, I didn’t like it one bit, but now, I find great joy in this new found hobby.
When my mom and sister came for a visit in early October, she expressed her creative ideas for my ocean side balcony. As a birthday gift she bought me tons of plants, flowers , containers, seeds ect… and helped me plant everything and set it up. Wow! Did my balcony look better than ever. We had snow peas growing up a trellis, strawberries zap strapped to the wall, a large pink bougainvillea in the corner, a herb basket and tomatoes.  This was all fine and going great, until my mom left and it started to get colder in Okinawa. With the cold came lots of rain. I noticed that the plants were getting trashed by the wind, rain and lack of sun. To be honest, I was really starting to enjoy my little garden and I was really sad that all that hard work and effort my mom put forth on her vacation, was about to go down the drain.  So I decided to move everything out onto my front balcony, which has a lot more protection from the elements, since it is not ocean side.

I strapped the strawberries to the outside of my kitchen window and they are so happy there. After 6 months of patiently waiting they are finally blooming. I wake up in the morning at around 630 am and I have noticed that some birds have made a home on the top of my apartments roof. I here them hanging out in the garden and this makes me happy. I sometimes see the birds sitting near the strawberries. I am sure they will eat them before I do but its okay!
6 months and waiting...

Eithan getting in the action! He always loves helping, especially in garden.
My mom putting it all together. She is so amazing!

Moving everything from the ocean side balcony to the front. I'm attaching the strawberries to the kitchen window.

The peas never made it from the back balcony. They were repeatedly damaged by the rain and strong winds coming from the ocean and after I moved them out to the front they could not recover. So about 5 days ago I planted some new ones. I am happy to see that they started to grow and I hope round two proves more successful than the first.
Soon I will put it near a net secured to the wall so the plant will have something to attach to while it grows tall.
After dining at a great Thai restaurant we have here in Okinawa I decided I wanted to grow some lemon grass. Fortunately, the restaurant had a garden center right next door so I bought a lemon grass plant and some mint plants. This is where the obsession started. I have always loved mint tea, but this is on a whole other level. After buying those mint plants I started buying more and more of all different varieties. Then my friend Kelly moved and gave me her Mint plant too. I am so happy to drink fresh mint tea everyday.
The mint in the bigger bowl on the left, is from the garden center by the Thai restaurant. On the far right is Arugula that I planted using seeds from Daiso (Japanese dollar store). Brilliant!

This is the mint Kelly gave me that I replanted in a larger container. 
More Mint
This is spearmint that I planted. Makes amazing tea!
Lemon grass makes great tea as well

My tomatoes have been the most surprising delight of them all. These little guys started out at about one foot tall. Now 3 of them are taller then me and I have harvested about 20-30 tomatoes so far. There are many more growing at the moment. The poor plants became covered in a mildew that damaged a lot of the leaves and branches. Now the plants look like Charlie Browns Christmas trees compared to what they looked like last month.
The plants were so short in the beginning 
Now the tomato plants are halfway up my windows and taller than me!
Went from flowers to fruit 

A teacher at one of my schools knows that I am really into gardening, so she rooted a plant and gave it to me as a gift. Once it gets bigger, I can re-pot and leave this one out on the back balcony since it is tough and can handle the beating from the wind and rain.
A very pretty surprise from the school!
Below is is a really nice flowering plant which was a gift from a lady at one of the garden centers that I go to. I don’t know what it is called but I am determined to find out. It produces a really pretty purple flower. First picture is from the day she gave it to me. Second picture is recent. 
It's the plant on the far left
I re-potted it and now it has grown a lot bigger. It grows beautiful purple flowers.
The man from the local garden center, gave me this lovely Orchid in the picture below.  He has a farm at his house and sells all the produce he produces, at his little shop. I buy all my veggies and fruits from him and they are delicious and mainly organic. He is very generous, I often see farmers visiting his shop and he is always giving them plants to try out at their farms.

Another nice gift!
My friend Angi tried out gardening and decided it wasn’t for her, so I inherited some seeds she wasn't using. She was also kind enough to give me the pots she didn't need anymore. I planted some seeds about 5 days ago, and I am still waiting to see if they will poke their heads out. 

The cilantro seeds on the left are from my friend. I am attempting to grow them with the peas! We will see what happens. 
Thank you Angi!
These plants were all rooted first in a container with water and then I planted them in soil. They are all doing very well and I am excited for when they get bigger and I can put them out on the back balcony.
First I took a clipping from a plant and rooted it in water
Next, I planted it in soil. These are different plants but I used the same process.

Then I planted it in a container. This one is really healthy so i will move it to a big container soon and put it on the ocean side balcony where it can take the weather.

My lettuce used to be normal but lately it has started to grow extremely vertical. I think this is because it is searching for light, but for whatever reason its pretty funky looking. 
Vertical lettuce?
I am trying to get my Ivy to wrap around the balcony.
My first basil harvest
Freshly watered
Another thought that crossed my mind was when I realized how many plants I actually have and what I will do when a typhoon comes! I guess I will have a full house with snails and everything! My second bedroom will have to be converted into a temporary greenhouse. 
Let's hope there are no typhoons this year!


  1. Your garden looks fabulous Tamara! So happy you take joy in gardening too :)
    your sis

  2. PS: the lettuce does look rather funny!

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  4. Your garden is amazing! We are moving to Japan in a few months and you have now inspired me to begin my garden upon arrival! Cant wait!