Find out how to grow your own vegetables in the smallest of spaces and enter our Mother’s Day competition before May 12 for your chance to win a vertical garden kit. Read our latest blog for details.
‘Pot’ Farming (With a Difference!)
The trend to cultivate healthier, chemical-free, organic vegetables is growing. Many of us are concerned about the over-use of chemicals on our vegetables, but buying organic is not always possible.
We all want affordable, healthier food and growing your own makes sense. Plus, there is something very special about the taste of fresh, untainted home-grown produce. It’s also very convenient to have your favourite herbs and veggies growing right outside your back door. And for others, there is the simple pleasure of mixing one’s hands in the rich soil, planting seeds and watching them flourish.
However, if you live in a city apartment with limited balcony space, chances are the idea of farming your own veggie patch is not something you’ve entertained recently. The good news is you can grow your own vegetables, even with limited space.
We’re not talking tiny pots of chives growing on the window-sill, although you can do that, too. We’re talking large pots of chives…and parsley, mint, sage, tomatoes, lettuce, chillies, and anything else you want to grow in your very own veggie patch. And we’re not talking about allotments or shared gardens either. We’re talking about that tiny space you call a balcony. You see, you can also grow your vegetables in pots vertically…not horizontally. More on that later.
For starters, you have prime farming land sitting right on your windowsill, perfect for your own herb ‘garden’. The beauty of this is when it is raining, you don’t have to go outside to pick your chives or parsley – it’s right within hands-reach, and you know it’s good quality and bursting with flavour. In fact, if you’re a novice gardener, a window-sill herb garden is a great place to start.
Some of the easiest herbs to grow on your window sill include chives, lemongrass, parsley, mint, rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil, and coriander. It’s best to buy young plants that haven’t already been growing outside and don’t expect too much from them in winter. Don’t plant all your herbs in one container. You only need one bully herb with an invasive nature and before you know it, it will have taken over the container.
Each container should have drainage holes and they prefer terracotta pots to plastic. Place small pebbles in the drainage tray for the pots to sit on for improved drainage and ventilation, which will also help stave off fungus.
If you are starting from scratch, use a good quality, organic potting mix specific for herbs. And of course, as with all living things, they also appreciate being ‘fed’ occasionally. Make sure you use a fertiliser specifically for herbs and does not promote ‘flowering’ because you don’t want your herbs to ‘flower’.
Don’t over water your plants. If your leaves start to yellow, they are getting too much. Let the soil dry between watering, but not so dry that your plants wilt!
Branch Out to the Balcony
Once you’ve achieved green-thumb confidence, you can branch out (pardon the pun) and farm your balcony. You can make room among your potted palms and flowerpots for vegetables.
Some of the easiest vegetables to grow in pots are tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, beans, peas, spring onions, beets, spinach, eggplant, zucchini, kale and radishes. You can also grow strawberries. Be adventurous.
Terracotta planters are great for balcony veggie gardens and you can also buy special hanging containers just for growing tomatoes and strawberries, but as with most things in life, you can spend as much or as little as your budget allows. Some people start their gardens off in ice-cream containers with holes in the bottom!
Make sure you place your balcony plants per their needs – some prefer plenty of sunlight while others appreciate the shade. You will also need to re-pot your young plants as they grow larger. If you don’t, it would be like you trying to cram your size 7 feet into your childhood sandals.
Again, your vegetables will thrive when given a little food now and then. Your garden centre can advise on the best fertiliser for your vegetable(s) and read the instructions for how often to feed. Some fertilisers are slow release over a few months while others only last a couple of weeks.
Grow Your Own Vegetables – Go Vertical
Now you know there is no excuse for not being able to grow your own vegetables and herbs, regardless of living space. Ah, but what about those whose barrier to farming is their balcony is so small they can barely fit a table and chair on it?
Well, thanks to products like Atlantis’ Gro-Wall Vertical Garden kits, that’s no longer a problem. Now, everyone can have their veggie patch and eat it too! With their standard Gro-Wall 4 kit and their new thinner Slim Pro kit, everyone can enjoy a garden on even the narrowest balcony.You can plant a mixture of your favourite vegetables intermingled with pots of colourful flowers and leafy green ferns, and best of all, you can pack up your vertical garden and take it with you when you move. All you need is a blank wall.
In fact, this Mother’s Day, if you live in Western Australia, Urban Direct Wholesale is holding a Mother’s Day competition and your mum can win a fabulous Atlantis Gro-Wall 18-pot vertical garden kit of her own! All you have to do is visit their facebook page, click on the video, tag your mum and say why she should win.
The lucky winner will be chosen and notified on 12 May 2017. Happy gardening!