Summer has arrived and our proposal for these months is to build a small urban garden. Beautiful, decorative, ideal for family fun and, above all, edible!
This is our proposal to decorate your balcony in summer.
The most common question among those who are not yet experienced is whether a lot of space is needed. With vegetable plants, it happens as with everything else: the space available on the balcony is limited, we cannot expect large crops if we can only grow in a couple of planters.
In addition, some vegetables require large quantities of the substrate to develop properly. This implies larger containers and an air volume that we usually do not take into consideration. When the plants begin to grow, their leaves and branches will, in fact, take up space, and could cause the total invasion of a small balcony.
What vegetables to grow on the balcony in the summer
We take as a reference a classic planter for balconies, of those that hang on the railing. Its dimensions are 50 cm long and 20 cm high. In total, 14 liters of substrate available for sowing.
The vegetables we can grow in this season are varied: lettuce, spinach, chard, rocket, tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, cucumbers, courgettes, strawberries, radishes, carrots, onions, berries, watermelon…
The plants that best fit these containers are leafy ones and most of the root ones. They have several characteristics in common: they are small in size, their roots are shallow and do not need much care.
Here are some ideas for making the most of one of these planters:
- 3 lettuces (of any variety) and a row with 6 onions, 12 radishes or 6 carrots.
- A row of arugula plants combined with a basil plant and some onions in the spaces.
- 3 strawberry plants.
- A dwarf cherry tomato plant (not all cherry varieties could grow well), 2 lettuces and 3 spinach plants.
You will think that “normal-sized lettuce, like the ones you usually buy”, takes up more space than is available in the planter, and it is indeed so. But in the case of the vegetables whose leaves we consume, there is a little trick: it is not necessary to let them grow until they reach the size of what we buy from the greengrocer.
We can gradually collect them, leaf by leaf. We always start by cutting the outer ones, which are the largest, and leaving the head intact which will continue to grow and give us a new crop after a few days.
Tomatoes, peppers, and aubergines need a minimum of 20 liters of potting soil in order to grow and bear fruit. And this without forgetting that a larger vase would be preferable for each of these. If you have space and pots available, cultivate them without fear! It is a joy to get a harvest that is not limited by the lack of space.
Light and irrigation of our small urban garden
In order to grow, most vegetables need to receive direct sun on their leaves. This is the case of Solanaceae (tomatoes, peppers, and aubergines) and the experience of growing them in semi-shade shows that it is not negotiable. The plants grow in fact elongated, in search of the sun that they cannot receive. Flowering is not abundant, and the fruits struggle to mature.
On the other hand, we can instead grow most of the green leafy vegetables without problems provided that they receive a lot of light, even without direct sun.
Irrigation of vegetables in summer should be almost daily. Any plant grown in pots suffers from greater evaporation than those grown in the soil: on the one hand, because the container is also heated, and on the other because the small volumes of soil retain less humidity.
Always water when the soil is dry and not just when it “seems dry”. The top layer of potting soil dries quickly, but inside it can retain some moisture. A surefire trick is to sink your finger into the earth to check its condition or use a soil moisture meter.
The moisture meter is a very useful tool, as it indicates the degree of humidity of the planter soil. It does not need batteries, just plant it in the ground, wait a bit before reading the result. Although there are various models, it moves on a basic scale that indicates whether the soil is dry, wet or damp. At this point, it is enough to know the needs of each of your plants to know if it needs more or less irrigation.
We hope these tips have been helpful, let us know if you feel encouraged to plant vegetables on your balcony in the summer!