Flora’s Edible Balcony

Posted by on Nov 16, 2016 in News

I’m absolutely addicted to plants! I should also mention that I live in a tiny flat which means I’ve had to be creative with my gardening. I’d like to share some tips I’ve learned from my years of balcony gardening and specifically of my most recent project, my 6th floor balcony in Sheffield.

This is my fifth edible balcony garden and I’ve learnt over the years that the key is making the best use of the space you have. Once I understood that, I felt liberated by the restriction in space.

 

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Here are some of my top tips for balcony gardening:

1.      Choosing the right container.

  • Chose a style, material and colour which are consistent, so you keep your space visually unified. I chose simple black plastic trough containers that would each be large enough to support two tomatoes plants each. Saying this, choosing your containers, whether they be made of terracotta or zinc, ultimately comes down to personal taste, your budget and needs. You may choose to collect a variety of unique pieces if that’s your style!
  • If you are the creative type and want to save money, think about repurposing containers already in your house, or simply make your own, like I’ve done with these cement pots.

 

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2.      Growing vegetables

  • Choose your vegetables according to those you enjoy eating or varieties that you think will be fun to grow and visually appealing. In restricted spaces like mine, growing small varieties is a good idea.
  • Harvest your veg seasonally and plant them according to the instructions on the seed packets.
  • Remember, light condition, watering and soil quality are the keys to all plant growing. Consider where you get most sun on your balcony and position veg like tomatoes here. More shade tolerant veg can be placed elsewhere. Consider mixing in some dried fish blood and bone into your compost before planting. This will give your seedlings a healthy kick start.

 

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 3.      Get creative with what you grow

  • Why not consider growing more exotic varieties. I’ve grown pineapple and avocado from seed by forcing them indoors. The pineapple is store bought. I place the pineapple tops in water for 2 months for them to grow roots. The avocado pit is also store bought that I placed in damp paper towel that is refreshed when it dries out and kept in the dark until the roots are approximately 3 inches long. When both have developed a root system, they can then be transplanted into soil.

 

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Edibles on my balcony:

I’m lucky to have a south facing balcony which gets the sun all day (when it decides to come out!) so I chose tomatoes, basil, baby corn and runner beans for last summer’s harvest. I also adore flowers so always have a collection of annuals, well at least they become annuals with the conditions on my balcony, which change for different seasons. These have included geraniums, begonias, cyclamen, wildflower mixes, violas, petunias and ornamental chilies.

I’ve found that making changes to what you have on the balcony to suit the conditions is the best approach. Basically, choosing a number of plants that will become permanent fixtures and others that will be substituted for another plant when it’s no longer looking its prime.

 

flora-edible-garden-before-and-after

 

Things to consider:

Plants that need to be brought in over the winter are often prone to pests and need to be monitored. My avocado trees, for example, have been quarantined until the aphid problem has been taken care off.

Remember that some plants, such as the some echevera, aloe, avocado and pineapple, spend their summer’s outdoors and are brought indoors for the other seasons.

 

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So, what are you waiting for? You’re only a few short weeks away from a beautiful, edible-filled balcony!