Vegetables grown on the balcony provide healthy food, but if skillfully selected, they will successfully replace compositions made of ornamental plants. When choosing vegetables for the patio, it is worth being careful and planting only those that will grow well.
It is better to give up growing vegetables on the balcony that slowly ripen and give off a “one-time” crop (for example, carrots, potatoes, cabbage) because we will wait a long time for the harvest, blocking valuable space. However, it is worth focusing on disease-resistant varieties that produce good crops without the need for chemical spraying. Information on resistance is given on the packaging of the seeds.
Vegetables for the balcony – which species to choose
- Fast-growing vegetables.
They are sown in early spring, and the first crops are harvested at the beginning of summer. These are various types of lettuce (butter, oak, Roman), which make up many varieties with crimped, sometimes maroon leaves, rocket (arugula), lamb’s lettuce, radicchio (lettuce chicory), kale. Valuable vegetables are spinach and New Zealand spinach. They quickly grow and yield radishes, kohlrabi, beetroots and beetroot.
- Vegetables that ripen successively.
They provide crops for a long time, often until autumn. These are mainly cherry tomatoes, which look nice, yield abundantly and are usually more resistant to a dangerous disease – potato blight – than large-fruited varieties. In a warm place by a wall, peppers will grow well, and in hanging baskets (as well as traditional pots) – courgettes and cucumbers. Cucumbers, which are climbers, can also be planted next to supports – an effective screen will be created, and space will be saved simultaneously.
- Vegetables for micro lists
They are eaten when the first delicate leaves appear, and the height of the plants does not exceed a few centimetres – then they are the healthiest and most valuable, but nothing prevents you from eating them also when they grow a little bit. In this way, lettuce, beetroot, radishes, kale, broccoli, cabbage, fennel, mustard, basil, watercress are grown, and ready-made mixtures of various vegetables are also on sale. They are sown in flat containers throughout the season and winter also at home on the windowsill. The crop is harvested after 7-14 days.
- Herbs and spices
They are needed in the kitchen every day, so keep them fresh on hand. These are parsley, chives, dill, basil, savoury, tarragon, thyme, coriander, marjoram, mint, rosemary, marjoram. These plants grow well even in small pots, and frequent nibbling of their stems and leaves makes them denser and more decorative.
How to grow vegetables on the balcony?
It must be airy with a lot of humus. These ready-made substrates are available for sale (vegetable substrate, universal substrate, and tomato substrate). We can also mix compost soil or humus (packaged in bags), de-acidified peat, and sand in a ratio of 2: 1: 1. There are also ready-made sacks for growing vegetables filled with fertile soil. They are cut in the marked places, and plants are planted in the holes.
The vegetables on the balcony feel good and look nice when planted in large boxes, but the plants can be grown in any container. Pots with a diameter and depth of 15-20 cm are enough for herbs, small vegetables (lettuces, spring vegetables, dwarf string beans) can be grown in pots with a diameter and depth of 30 cm, larger ones (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini) should be grown in pots no smaller than 30 cm low and 50 cm in diameter. There should be a hole in the bottom to allow excess water to drain. At the bottom of the containers, arrange drainage made of gravel or expanded clay.
Vegetables should be grown in the sun, and then they are the tastiest and the most abundant. The exceptions are plants grown for their leaves (lettuce, arugula, lamb’s lettuce, kale, spinach, pak choi, micro leaves), which also grow well in partial shade.
Vegetables on the balcony – which ones are next to each other?
Vegetables of different species should be planted together. In this way, we will create compelling compositions and use the space economically. Some plants like each other and grow better when placed next to each other. Successful relationships include:
- tomatoes with lettuce, chives, onions, radishes, beans, parsley, basil, marigolds and mint;
- cucumbers with lettuce, beans, onion, leek, celery, peas, corn, dill and beetroot;
- pepper with basil, chives, onion, marjoram and marjoram.
How to grow vegetables on a balcony – care
Sowing and planting
Some vegetables are sown in containers placed outside in March-April (beets, parsley, lettuce, arugula, lamb’s lettuce, spinach, radishes, dill). Still, to speed up the harvest, you can plant ready-made seedlings. In April, the earliest (we plant seedlings outside onions, chives, parsley, lettuce, kohlrabi, and cabbage. We wait until the frosts have passed before planting the remaining vegetables on the balcony – that is, until mid-May.
The soil in the pots dries up quickly, so in hot weather, the plants need to be watered even twice a day, remembering not to soak the leaves. The work will be improved by the installation of a drip line to irrigate plants in containers.
Plants grown on a small amount of land consume nutrients reasonably quickly, so they need to be supplemented. We use organic preparations, for example, humous ones.
Vegetables such as high-growing tomatoes and peppers must be tied to stakes. We can also plant beans and cucumbers next to stakes and metal and wooden grids with unfastened wires or ropes.
We regularly remove yellowing and damaged leaves. They look unsightly and can be a breeding ground for diseases.
We systematically inspect shoots and leaves and remove those whose appearance bothers us. We use plant strengthening preparations, such as horsetail or nettle extract.