My Balcony Vegetable Garden
Here is Chrissie's story of how she managed to tranform the 12th floor balcony into a thriving vegetable plot:
I live on the 6th floor of a 12 storey block of flats in Outer London, which has a balcony measuring 11' x 4' and I've heard many people saying how upset they are that they can't grow things just because they live in a flat and cannot get an allotment. However, if you're canny, you can grow things in a small space. Just think there are 48 balconies on each block of flats - what a huge available growing area that is. Here's how I created my own balcony vegetable patch:
Which Fruit and Vegetables to Plant on a BalconyFor £30, I bought two 4 tier growing houses, which can be bought at various outlets. The open gap on the balcony has a grid on it - this has been filled with pot holders for beans, tomatoes and courgette plants which can grow up the gridding. I use the earth from giant tomato grow bags and my valentine's present was a packet of organic poo granules! There was a very long silence when my partner asked me what I wanted for Valentine's Day.
In my balcony space I am growing potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergines, beans, onions, lettuce, spring onions, garlic, broccoli, carrots, spinach, peppers, chillis, patty pan squash, radishes, strawberries and lots of herb pots. There's still room for a few pots of cyclamen and geraniums for colour, hanging out my washing and one very spoilt cat on his padded chair!
Think Upwards Not Outwards When Planning Your SpaceObviously, in a confined space, you may have some empty periods while you wait for pots to become vacant and be planted and growing again, but you can have veggies cropping at different times of the year so you always have something to pick and eat. The shear joy of popping tiny seeds into earth and then everything sprouting up is just lovely. At the moment, things are growing inches in days. In limited space, you have to think upwards rather than outwards and not be stopped by thinking everything has to be in rows taking up valuable floor space - think floor to ceiling.
Now My Friends Are Growing Their Own Too!I now have several friends started on their garden by giving them the plants I don't have room for, so they are also experiencing the fun of growing your own. There are more and more companies producing veggies which are adapted to grow compactly in pots or tomatoes/strawberries in hanging baskets and there is lots of advice on websites like vegetable expert, so you don't have to buy loads of books. Tip: If you are new to growing vegetables I've found advice for children is good as they don't assume you know things already so it is step by step help and in basic language.
Handy Money Saving TipsIf you are short of money, ask your canteen, local shops and friends to donate containers. My canteen manager gives me empty mayonnaise tubs and I use the plastic cups that my salad comes in as seed propagators as they have convenient little plastic hats with a hole in. Seeds love their individual apartments!
Even if you have a windowsill you can grow herbs for your cooking so no space is too small to have some fresh produce. Happy growing.