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  • W. H. Perron

Urban Gardeners

Even if small, your balcony can surely hold a few pots, maybe on the wall or the ramp.

Good reasons to «green up» your balcony

  • It's simply beautiful! Transform your balcony into a green space where you will be able to escape and relax, right in the middle of the city.

  • The joy of seeing your vegetable grow and the pride of eating them, real daily pleasures.

  • Practical. A bit of chive in a vinaigrette, fresh basil on pasta, edible flower leaves for salads or munching on fresh cherry tomatoes, while preparing dinner.

Essential Rules

  • Sun, most vegetables require 6 to 8 hours of sun per day (minimum) to grow well.Root vegetables and leguminous plants can go by with 4 to 6 hours.

  • Soil, it is the keeper of your plants.Roots must get enough nutrients, water and air.

  • Close access to water, making the chore easier.

Good Use of Space

You have a small space? Here is how you can maximize it.

  • Raise your containers; put them on a small table or shelf. The plants will be in the sun's full view and you will have storage space under the table.

  • Think «vertical».A simple solution, easy to install:pockets made of geotextile fabric «Smart Pots» or cotton shoe storage pockets that you can hang and fill with soil to grow fine herbs, lettuce or comestible flowers.

  • The balcony railing can be used as support for climbing cucumbers, green beans, Morning Glory flowers, which will liberate the floor space and create a charming privacy screen.

  • Balcony above your head? Hang some flower baskets!Privilege plants that are smaller: comestible flowers, fine herbs or small cherry tomatoes.

  • Create a green screen to make the street, or a neighbour, disappear! Select a pole bean and have it run on a simple mesh trellis or ropes. Generously sow early June and 4 to 6 weeks later you will have a 5 to 6 feet high screen.

Where to start ?

You can grow anything on your balcony if you have the right container (deep container for carrots and large for zucchini's).

  • Perfect to start with because they are easy, beautiful, very useful for cooking and needs only a small space to grow.

  • A large variety is available, but the most popular are tomato, lettuce, radishes, rocket, zucchini, cucumbers and beanpole.

  • Radish, spinach, lettuce and rockets grow rapidly (4 to 6 weeks).They are perfect to start the season.It is better to grow them during spring or autumn because they do not appreciate the hot summer weather.You can sow at the end of April or early May and you will be able to harvest just before or after planting your summer varieties (they can live together for a few weeks.

  • Regular or cherry of all colours and shapes: round or elongated (Italian type)! Depending on the desired effect, select between the determined (that grow at +/- 3 feet that produce its fruits in a close time sequence and do not require pruning) and the undetermined (that can reach 5 to 6 feet, producing for a long period and need pruning). In both cases, do not forget to place a stake at the start.

  • Beans and peas. Easy and quick to grow with an abundant foliage, if you choose a climbing variety.

  • Edible flowers. They decorate your balcony and your plate. Many varieties available and easy to grow, they add originality, colour, and texture. Among them, you can choose between nasturtium (flower and leaf), pansy, Calendula, daylily, and marigold.

  • Small fruits. Ground cherries, they almost grow like weeds and are very generous in fruits. Strawberries are perennials (grow back each spring).

Tips to grow your plants in a container

  • Preferably use a large container.Small containers will give you small plants and require frequent watering. You will need an 18"(inch) container for one (1) tomato plant, one (1) squash or one (1) cucumber.

  • Beware of competition.Buddy-buddy, yes, but five (5) types of herbs in a small container, NO!

  • Drainage. If you recycle containers, make sure they have drainage holes at the bottom.

  • Have a good soil mixture.Vegetables are more demanding than flowers. Make a good mix with 50% compost (nutrients, micro-organisms) and 50 % light potting soil (aeration and drainage).

  • Fertilizer. In a container, the plant has less space than in the ground to collect its nutrients. It is important to support it with an organic fertilizer (ex: earthworm manure, compost or Sea Magic).

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