Living in a city doesn’t have to mean missing out on fresh organic vegetables and herbs at home. Even with the (teeniest) tiniest balcony, you can create a thriving kitchen garden of your very own. Not only can you consume what you harvest, you’ll feel like a proud parent as you watch your veggies grow.
You’re going to love casually popping out to pluck some mint leaves for your Pimms this summer. And with a blossoming balcony allotment, there really won’t be any excuse to not meet your 5-a-day quota anymore.
Here are some tips and tricks to get you started with growing vegetables in London:
Start with herbs
New to the world of edible gardening? Kick off with planting herbs. Why? They’re super easy to grow and all they need is a few hours of sunlight. It’s a good idea to start small to see what you can maintain before you go all out.
Mint, basil, parsley, oregano, try them all. And hey, you might even get inspired to try a new mix of flavours in your cooking.
Consider hanging plants for limited space
If you’re the proud owner of a smaller balcony, don’t let that get in the way of you and your fresh veg. Opt for vertical gardening to maximise your space. Check out some ideas below:
Create a DIY wall planter
Source: Pinterest – zinawright.typepad.com
Use a hanging shoe organiser for your herbs
Source: Pinterest – instructables.com
Hang plant pots in rows to maximise space
Source: Pinterest – bhg.com
Position plants based on sunlight access
Most plants will require 6 hours of sunshine a day. Some, such as root vegetables, can get by on less. This is why you need to put a little time and effort into planning your micro allotment. You should arrange your plants based on their own specific needs. Some will be needier than others.
It also helps to arrange your pots before you pour the soil so they’re easier to move around.
Choose deep pots which retain moisture for longer
Small pots tend to dry quickly, so opt for deeper pots to keep the soil most. It’s especially important to use larger pots if you’re growing big veg such as courgettes, peppers and tomatoes. For vegetables of this size, choose pots that are around 40cm deep. For herbs and smaller veg such as carrots or radishes, 20cm deep should be sufficient for them to thrive.
Use a soil-less potting blend
A soil-less potting medium is lighter and good at retaining moisture. Paired with organic fertiliser, it should result in some plump and juicy homegrown veg. So much better than store-bought.
Consistent care is key
Though balcony allotments are fairly low maintenance, you’ll need to take a little time out of hectic city life to care for your babies. Consistent watering, fertilising, and pruning is important. Seed packets will tell you all you need to know about specific care instructions.
Don’t let the maintenance factor stress you out, as most plants won’t need much watering and pruning is only required every so often. Things just get a little out of hand if you neglect them for a while. If you need help caring for your balcony garden while you’re away, there are plenty of great gardening services in London.
Combine different types of veg into one pot based on needs
Want to combine more than one plant into one pot? It’s generally a good idea. Pair plants into pots based on their needs. For instance, lettuce and herbs are great companions as they have similar requirements for water and fertiliser. Aubergines and beans also go well together.
Avoid incompatible combinations to make caring for your urban allotment easier.