Those who live in the city or do not have enough green space at their disposal are not forced to give up the dream of cultivating their own garden. In fact, there is the possibility to realize it on the terrace or on the balcony. Even if it seems hard, growing vegetables at home is quite simple – if you know how to start.
Why Growing Vegetables at Home
Having a vegetable garden at home allows you to consume herbs, fruits and vegetables that you grow directly, respecting the seasonal cycle of vegetables. It is also a way to regain contact with nature, which is often lost when living in the city. Moreover, it is a relaxing activity that gives much satisfaction, because it is thanks to your commitment that the plants grow and mature. Finally, it is also an advantageous choice from an economic point of view. You can have more than enough production for daily consumption, without having to buy vegetables at markets or shops – of course only during the harvest season.
Choosing the Right Produce
Aromatic herbs are the ideal plants to keep on a balcony or terrace, because they are easy to care for. Basil, parsley, sage, mint, chives, rosemary and oregano do not necessarily require full light. You just need to be careful to wet them regularly and remove the dry leaves, but without having to use fertilizers. They are already provided with pots in garden centres or nurseries. But be careful with parsley – it is a weed, so keep it away from other herbs.
Some vegetables can be grown without the need for a lot of space. Examples include tomatoes and salads of all varieties, cucumbers, onions, radish, zucchini, carrots and even potatoes.
As for fruit, a terrace allows you to grow some varieties in pots. First of all berries, most of which prefer cool temperatures even in summer, while in winter they resist below zero. Even citrus fruits grow well in pots, but be careful to protect them during the bad season. Fruit trees should be planted only in larger spaces, directly on the ground.
Setting Up a Garden on the Balcony
In order to set up a garden on your balcony, it must be free of obstacles. Also assess its spatial orientation to see if it is sunny enough and if there are any shaded areas.
As for pots, buy terracotta or plastic ones, at least 40 cm deep, especially for vegetables. Terracotta containers are the best in terms of breathability and water flow. However, they risk becoming too heavy if you have to move them regularly to capture the light and protect them from the cold. If you use rectangular pots, you can plant 2 or 3 herbs together.
You can purchase soil already enriched with fertilizer, but for a completely organic choice opt for a universal soil. Create a clay or gravel bottom in the pots to help drain the water.
When organizing your garden, leave some space between the single pots. In general, at least to start with, avoid overcrowding your balcony. It is better to have a few plants to dedicate yourself to, and then increase the number once the first cultivations have started. If you have little space, or want to expand the cultivation area, you can also create a vertical garden on the walls. In this case, however, the preparation is longer and more demanding. You need to build a strong structure made of nets, cages and trellises to allow the plants to climb, and hang pots of adequate weight for herbs.