Urban gardening, vertical gardening, kitchen gardening – growing fruit and vegetables on balconies is right on trend! Fruit and vegetables taste exceptionally good when they’re grown at home and tended to with love and care. With the right planters and some good attention, lettuce leaves, herbs and co. will even sprout in small spaces, plus they’ll taste just as delicious as they look. Nowadays you can even find special varieties that are perfect for cultivating on terraces and balconies: for example, there are dwarf versions of citrus fruits such as lemons and oranges that don’t shoot up too much in height, making them really easy to plant in larger planters. Now that doesn’t sound so hard, does it?
Vegetable and fruit plants are generally very thirsty. Take tomato leaves, for example: just one day without water and they’re already looking pretty droopy. The quality of fruit produced by plants will also suffer if the soil condition is frequently changing from dry to wet. Your plants won’t be able to supply themselves with the water they need from a reservoir if the planters or window boxes you’re using don’t have their own watering system – so it’s particularly important to water them regularly if this is the case. Certain crops have to be watered daily, for example pumpkins and courgettes. Take this as a rule of thumb: as soon as the top layer of soft is dry, more water needs to be added.
Tip: the larger the planter or flower pot, the less frequently the plants will need watering.
Amateur gardeners are faced with a huge choice in the garden centre when it comes to soil. But in principle, the choice is actually pretty simple: A low-nutrient soil such as special potting soil will suffice to begin with when you’re growing seedlings. But then after repotting, your crops will need a lot of nutrients if they are to grow big and strong and sprout delicious fruits. Simple standard soil can be gradually enriched with the addition of special fertilisers or compost. The amount of fertiliser you’ll need will depend on how many nutrients – and most importantly, how much nitrogen – is required by each individual plant type. Do your bit to protect nature and always choose peat-free soils.
Tip: garden blogger Silvia explains how to make your own nutrient-rich soil through composting in the Emsa Blog.
The best-known way to grow fruit and vegetables is to use a terracotta flower pot: this prevents waterlogging and provides good ventilation for the soil. But these planters often take up a lot of space or can’t be kept outside in the winter as they aren’t waterproof. Plastic balcony boxes are better for smaller plants as they are remarkably durable and save a lot of space. They are a great place to grow radishes, salad leaves, beans & co.
Most kinds of vegetables need a lot of water, so planters and window boxes with an integrated watering system are the perfect choice when you’re growing your own.
Not that many people have taken to growing potatoes on terraces and balconies yet – one possible reason for this could be the size and depth of the plant pots needed. After all, a nice tall plastic planter is needed to grow them, and it will need to have dark walls to make sure the soil can heat up under the rays of the sun. Drainage holes in the base are also a must, as they prevent the soil from becoming waterlogged after watering and when it rains.
Surprising just how many different types of vegetables grow almost as well in plant pots or balcony boxes as they do in a vegetable patch, isn’t it? Go on then – head straight to the balcony and get started!