Balcony gardening

Photo credit: Edrick Tobias Molina

(Tokyo – Balcony – cherry tomato)

CAROLE MCCRAY: Grow tomatoes, peppers, herbs on your balcony

No yard? No problem. Reach for a tomato from a container on your deck or enjoy one from a container on an apartment balcony.

As long as you have a space that receives about eight hours of sunlight during the day, you can have a container garden.

There are vegetables ideally suited to growing in containers.

• Tomatoes are one. Their tenacity and ability to grow in small spaces make them good container plants. Sunny, sheltered locations are ideal for tomatoes, but if the space is windy and exposed, choose smaller varieties such as patio and cherry tomatoes. (Patio tomatoes are the only type of tomato that can produce a decent crop in partial shade.)

If you keep watering and fertilizing a little, your tomatoes will keep producing throughout the summer.

• Bush beans can be planted in containers because they don’t require much staking and they ripen fast. Bush beans have the extra benefit of adding nitrogen to the soil, which helps the next crop planted in the pot.

• For colorful and ornamental vegetables, try chili peppers. If you plant them in a decorative container, it can be a dramatic touch and one you will enjoy looking at. Also, your container with chili peppers can double as an edible table centerpiece.

• Herbs do well in containers. Rosemary, any of the thymes, marjoram, various basils and parsley are popular culinary herbs that like lots of sun. It is nice to have them close to the kitchen where you can step outside and snip fresh herbs for your favorite dishes.

• A container plant that is both ornamental and has texture is kale. It can span the seasons, planting and harvesting as the season goes along since it is a good cool weather crop. Try grouping pots of kale with colorful potted flowers such as zinnias, impatiens or marigolds for a decorative touch, some contrast and interesting textures.

• Lettuce is a good container plant. However, in the hot summer heat, it will bolt quickly. When that happens, cut the entire plant and refrigerate it, making sure all soil, debris and insects are gone. Do not wash the lettuce until you are ready to eat it.

If you want lettuce throughout the season, plant several containers in stages to keep harvesting.


Read the full article: Indiana Gazette

Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.