The balcony as a substitute garden

Garden Life
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Not everyone is lucky enough to have a garden. Many people live in apartments with just a balcony. But why not use that balcony as a garden instead? With the right equipment you can transform your balcony into a kitchen garden and cultivate your own vegetables, fruits or flowers. Choosing the right equipment and also the right plants is important – especially since not all plants are well suited for a balcony. All of which will be covered in this section.

Before you start, you need to check the alignment of your balcony. Some plants cannot tolerate too much sun, shade or rain, whereas others are more used to these conditions. No matter what size the balcony is, plant tubs are available in many different sorts and variants so that you can make optimal use of your balcony space. The trick is to garden both width and height-wise therefore opening up a whole range of different planting options. You can shape your balcony using planting boxes for use on rails, hanging plant baskets, bed-boxes for the ground, planting bags with bottom openings for potatoes, planting bags fixed to the wall, climbing trellis or even a balcony-greenhouse. You can also fix your individual planters to the balcony bannister or the stair bannister, the rainwater pipe, or even on clothes-lines.

Ideally, use planters which have holes in the bottom to avoid waterlogging. It is important that the wall of the planters is stable so that they withstand humid conditions. To ensure the soil stays in the pot, place a layer of foil or thick fleece inside it before adding the soil. Pierce a few holes into the foil so that, later on, the water can flow off easily. The next step is to fill in the soil and the seeds or seedlings.

Tomatoes in planters

To make sure that your tomatoes are large enough to start the season, they first have to be cultivated on the windowsill from mid-March. Use small pots, fill in soil and press the seeds approximately 0.5 cm under the soil. Keep the soil moist and cover the pot with a plastic wrap to keep a temperature of around 20C. Press the tomato stakes/climbing supports before you dibble the plant, so that you do not injure the rhizome. In mid-May you can put the planter on the balcony. Mix soil with compost or tomato-fertilizer to give the seedlings sufficient nutrients. The tomato plants need a sunny place which is not exposed to rain but also be sure to water the plants regularly. In order to know when harvesting time will come, check the seeds packaging as this depends on the variety.

Radishes in the vegetable box

In mid-March you can sow the radish seeds into planting boxes. Give a minimum of 5cm clearance between the seeds. For radishes, you do not have to cultivate little plants from the seeds. The germination time of the seeds is about 6-14 days. Place the box in a sunny to slightly shaded place. Water the plant frequently so that the plant does not dry out. After approximately 4 weeks you can pick the first radishes and if you continue to sow seeds, you can harvest fresh radishes throughout the whole summer.

Parsley in plant bags

Parsley needs a nutritious and permeable soil, planted in a half-shaded place. Normally, you sow the seeds at the end of February until March or later in July/August. First, soak the seeds in water overnight. Then, put the seeds in a low plant bag and heap them up with soil. Water the plants several times a day. After approximately three months you can pick the parsley as needed.

Which plants are also suitable for the balcony?

Herbals: thyme, rosemary, peppermint
Flowers: fuchsia, bellflower
Vegetables: pepper, salad, cucumber, potato
Fruits: strawberry, citron