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Balcony Gardening – Growing your own
The biggest lesson is that it works! This summer I’ve bought aubergines, garlic, coriander and courgettes. For the rest of the summer (from around the start of June), my vegetables and herbs have been entirely home grown. I’m rather impressed by that. For someone living alone it has been a godsend, I can pick exactly what I need rather than ending up with huge quanties of things I don’t want and can’t eat. That’s particularly true of herbs but also of new potatoes, carrots, peas, beans and wild rocket – all of which are much, much nicer if you can shorten the time between cropping and eating. As an example, here’s what I picked today. And everything except the chillis has been eaten already;)
Things that haven’t worked
Beetroot – it has too big a root system to work in a raised balcony planter. I got a few tiny beets which were lovely but not justifiable for the amount of space it took
Upsidedown Tomato Planter. An unmitigated disaster, I ended up with a dried up looking apology for a tomato plant
Aubergines – well, still a bit of time to go, but I don’t think I am going to get a fruit. They have grown fine, but not flowered yet. Next year I am trying courgettes which my friends tell me are a little easier. Or I may start the aubergines inside on the heated propagator
Things that I could have done better with
Peas – were fabulous while they lasted, but a bit overwhelming. Next time I am staggering the planting so that hopefully they last a little longer into the season
Potatoes – Similarly, absolutely lovely new potatoes, but I think they went in the ground a little too late for London, so I ONLY got new potatoes.
Tumbling Tom Tomatoes – sorry, they grew fine, but I just didn’t like them. They were too densly fleshy for me and not juicy enough
Fennel – I grew the wrong sort so I didn’t get bulbs…though the leaves have made brilliant cooking ingredients.
The Best So Far
Baby Carrots – still eating these, I can pull a few for supper every day
Runner beans – taken over one planter completely!
Peas – Anyone who has eaten peas they’ve just picked and chucked in boiling water will know why!
Gardener’s Delight Tomatoes – I’ve loved eating these and they are STILL producing a lot of fruit.
Plum Tomatoes – yet to pass the taste test, these are just starting to ripen but they look very promising
Herbs – parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, greek basil, dill, fennel, tarragon – all growing nicely on my balcony or windowsill. For some reason my coriander just doesn’t work.
Chillis – I’ve had a few Jalapeno and a few hotter chillis so far. All the seeds produced at least one plant (that’s about 7 varieties), but one or two haven’t produced fruit yet.
Radishes and spring onions – I grew these at the start of the summer and really enjoyed. Ran out of space to keep planting – next year I can plan things a bit differently
Various green salad leaves including wild rocket – I’m still happily cropping my wild rocket.
Plans for next year
2 more balcony window boxes so I can grow strawberries
Fewer chilli plants, no tumbling toms and no beetroot!
French beans or bobby beans (because I really like them and they are great cold in salads as well as hot)
More space for the wild rocket, radishes and spring onions
More space for the baby carrots
Staggered planting schedule so I don’t end up with everything at once
An earlier start for the potatoes so hopefully I get a bigger crop.
Buy a hose. Even with an 8′ square balcony garden, watering veg is hard work without one!
Oh and I’m planning to plant some garlic in a few weeks…and maybe some other over-winter vegetables. Any comments or suggestions from older/wiser/more experienced green hands welcome! Hurrah for Balcony Gardening!