Hi Paida, tell us what you grow in your balcony garden.
I grow a combination of regular and red Swiss chard, tomatoes, lettuce, buttercup squash and then I have onions. This year I also did kale.
Why did you decide to grow your own vegetables?
I prefer vegetables that have flavor. The ones you buy in the store, they are not as sweet. They have some kind of chemical; I don’t know what it is. My mom used to grow a lot of vegetables growing up as kids. I can tell the difference between them. I feel like I am eating some kind of toxin when I eat vegetables from the store.
How did you get started?
Last year I looked on pintrest to see if I could garden on the balcony and get some idas on what people’s gardens looked like. I got some pots from the dollar store and some form Lowe’s garden cetnre. We also go our soil and seedlings from Lowes. We went around to other garden centres at Home Depot and Rona to find the vegetables we wanted.
Any special way to care for them being in an apartment?
It’s more difficult to grow from seeds because they have to be inside the house so I decided seedlings were a better option. We have carpet as well so the plants being inside would have made things messy.
On the balcony you have to be careful because when it rains, the plants can drown in the water. you have to cover them. you have to water your plants first thing in the morning around 6 or 7 then again in the evening . That way, they have water for the day and some to drink overnight as well. During the days when it is raining a lot, don’t water your garden. touch the soil and press down to see if the soil is saturated.
What have you learned about growing your own vegetables?
I’ve noticed some vegetables require more water than others. with some plants you have be to patient. this year I’m growing bigger tomatoes so they are taking more time to ripen and i get less. cherry tomatoes grown faster. so the smaller your plant the easier it is to maintain.
also, you need to space them well otherwise it’s hard for them to grow or one plant will do better than the other. i grow my kale in the same pot as my swiss chard. the chard was growing slowly because i think the kale was taking most of the water.
Some of my friends say talk your plants . I don’ talk to them myself. I don’t know why (laughs)
What is one dish you make with something from your garden?
I use the butternut cup leaves. I pick them before the flowers turn into the buttercup- the squash itself and peel of the thorny parts. I use some of the flower to cook my vegetables. They give it a sort of buttery flavor.
Anything else to add?
Growing my vegetables is quite affordable as well. Starting up is where it costs money like when buying pots. but if you keep it simple, you can probably buy them all for about $40 and this will last you for the summer. Last year I had my garden until October. It depends on what kind of winter or summer you are having. right now I’m still having to buy tomatoes but my word of advice would be to buy the cherry tomatoes because they ripen faster and you can have them more frequently. Kale and lettuce grown pretty quickly too. My kale is growing shockingly fast.
Thanks for sharing, Paida!