There’s a special feeling you get when you start growing and nurturing vegetables of your own. And this desire can sometimes come along when you least expect it, even though you may have never been a green-thumb kind of person. However, owning and tending to a garden is not a luxury everyone can or should afford and this is why your own balcony is the next best option. Let’s look at some of the vegetables you can successfully grow on your balcony and what care instructions they come with:
PEAS AND BEANS
Beans and peas are very much alike in the sense that they don’t need a lot of space to grow in, but they just need something to grab onto. Start by planting them in unglazed pots and adding 6-7 inches of soil. Make sure there are unobstructed drainage holes in your pots and help them grow vertically by adding a rail they can latch onto. Both plants will need an additional inch of mulch, such as wood chips or compost.
Tomatoes are among the easiest to grow vegetables on your balcony and they require plenty of sunlight to thrive. You can even opt for cherry tomatoes if you want a variety that’s fairly low maintenance and that produces an abundance of fruits in the growing season. Your pot needs to be at least 12 inches deep and wide, while the soil needs to be permeable and well-drained. A great bonus would be to add a slow-release fertilizer when you plant them.
If you want to keep active during the wintertime too, you can always plant spring onions. They need 8-12 weeks before they can be harvested, so right about springtime if you plant them early, in the colder months. These are tasty and versatile vegetables that can be grown directly from the seed, instead of the bulb. These beautiful plants will prove to be a delicious addition to any salad you want to prepare.
CARROTS, RADISHES AND OTHER ROOT VEGETABLES
First of all, what you need to know about planting root vegetables is that they require larger containers that allow their tubers to spread freely. Once you get a container that’s 1-1.5 feet high, you will need to fill it up with light and loose soil that’s free of any hard bits. These vegetables like the sun and will need lots of water for them to develop beautifully. Just remember their shapes may turn out to be less than perfect or conventional, but they’ll be just as edible in the end.
If the thought of eating a delicious salad from greens you planted by yourself thrills you, you can definitely rejoice - kale, lettuce and spinach do very well potted on a balcony. All you need to do is to ensure you give them plenty of space for their roots to spread. You can spread the seeds on the surface and then cover them with a light layer of compost. You can then start to harvest and eat these plants while they are still young.
CHILIES AND PAPRIKA
Chilies and paprika are also very accepting of being potted in a balcony, but they do have slightly different requirements than other vegetables. The one thing you need to know about them is that apart from plenty of sunlight, they also require a great degree of warmth for the seeds to germinate and for them to eventually bare fruit. Once they do, they’re very abundant, so you can get a large share of chilies from only a few plants. You will need a soil-based compost and drainage holes if you know you’re prone to overwatering.
PUMPKINS, SQUASH AND ZUCCHINI
Yes, that’s right, despite their generous size, these vegetables can also grow in pots on your balcony. Granted they need large pots since they will sprawl and sprawl - consider a capacity of five gallons to start with. You will need a potting mixture that contains a combination of compost, soil, perlite, and peat moss. With zucchinis, for example, it’s recommended that you also add fertilizer every other week and thin out the seedlings when the germination begins. If you plant squash, know they will like vertical growth, so it’s best to provide them with a trellis that can support their weight. Having said this, all three types of vegetables mentioned above will require at least six hours of sunlight every day, unless you want mildew to set in and interfere with their growth process.
Having said this, if you’ve always dreamed of having your very own green balcony and eat freshly harvested vegetables, now is your chance to make it happen. The only thing you need to be mindful of is that although all these plants can do well in a balcony environment, they each have their own potting, feeding and sunlight instructions that need to followed for excellent growing conditions.
Bethany Seton is a recent economics graduate from Melbourne. Before settling in an office, she decided to follow her passion for writing and traveling. Currently, she travels with her laptop and writes for various blogs, hoping one day she will gather all the experience she gets in one book.