There are plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits available in the supermarkets and at your favourite farmer’s market.
But it’s nothing like growing your own produce.
Even if you live in an apartment.
If you have a balcony – then this is one area you can allocate to growing a vegetable garden which is sustainable and nourishes your body and your soul.
1. Sunlight: Start by assessing the amount of sunlight you get in your balcony. When does sunlight hit your balcony and from which direction?
Most balconies suffer from a lack of sunlight. So make the most of the sunshine available and plant your urban veggie garden accordingly. This way you can plan on what plants or seeds you want to buy – those that tolerate full sun, partial sun or those that prefer the shade.
2. Wind factor: Balconies are usually exposed to winds which can be damaging to your plants.
Construct a windbreak like a trellis or arrange various tall plants together such as cumquats and other wind-resistant trees.
Wind damage can blow pots away and can batter and tear leaves. Plants exposed to the wind also dry out quicker. So grow your vegetable garden away from the wind in glazed pots (less prone to drying) and pots that don't topple over in the wind. Shelter low growing plants behind larger plants.
One thing you must do is water your veggie garden regularly.
3. Maximise space: Choose various pots and containers to grow your vegetables in. But ensure that you don’t exceed the weight restrictions of your balcony as some containers can be quite heavy.
Choose hanging pots and baskets or even a vertical garden set up if you have limited space.
Make sure there are holes at the bottom of the containers. To ensure good drainage line your containers with small rocks first.
If you have large containers, grow vegetables like cauliflower and brussel sprouts.
You can grow veggies such as eggplant, garlic, bell peppers, salad greens and herbs in smaller containers.
Climbing cucumbers, green beans and snow peas look great on a trellis.
You can grow tomatoes in a sunny corner of the balcony. Make sure that the plant has structural support to grow like poles and cages.
Carrots will grow very well in deep pots.
Many fruit trees also come in dwarf varieties and are great for the balcony.
Make sure all your pots get at least 4-5 hours of sunlight.
Companion planting: It’s a natural way to keep pests away. Grow marigolds as the smell will ward off most bugs while nasturtiums protect strawberries.
Tip: coffee grind near basil to keep snails away and garlic oil acts as an effective repellent.
Repotting: Potting mixes consist of organic matter. As it breaks down over time, it lessens pore space. This means plants can’t breathe properly, their roots are unable to move and water is unable to get through.
Repotting must be done a couple of times a year to ensure that your veggie garden keeps flourishing.