Need gardening advice for a patio/balcony garden?

by jo-h

Sadbh asks: Need gardening advice for a patio/balcony garden?
Ive just moved into my new place and Ive never grow anything before but Id really like to grow some basic veg/fruit, in particular asparagus(i love it but its too expensive). the only thing is,I have a balcony garden thats about 10feet square. Id also like to put in some window baskets, any idea of some plants/flowers I could plant now…..

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Answer by donna d

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  1. Asparagus is quite labour intensive and needs quite a large bed. (That’s why it’s expensive). Most salad crops grow quite well in containers, but it’s best to wait until the main risk of frost is over. It’s a good time to plan what you want to grow.

  2. You could grow some scented climbers in big pots (put polystyrene in the bottom of them to add drainage without weight). Something like honeysuckle or jasmine, which would fill your home with scent in the summer.

    You can also get ‘tumbling’ vegetables like cherry tomatoes which grow in pots and hang down rather than grow up (saving space). You can grow strawberries in pots too, as well as carrots. Think about some herbs for delicious cooking as well. You might also consider some ‘companion’ planting like marigolds which help ward off pests, keeping it all organic.

    Think small to begin with, while you get the hang of it all, and you’ll soon be addicted to the taste of home grown fruit and veg. Have a look in the shops for books on the subject which will give you some really good ideas.

    Best of luck!

  3. The most expensive thing is mixed salad leaves followed closely by spinach, so if you use these at all then you could save a lot by growing them.

    ‘Baby’ veg costs a fortune too, so little carrots and aubergines would be good as well.

    Asparagus takes a couple of years to become established and needs a lot of space. The season only lasts 6 weeks so even if you had the room it would hardly be worth your while.

    If you are in the middle of a town the temperatures will be a degree or two warmer so you could sow some things now and protect them at night with some horticultural fleece.

    Old wooden wine crates make great containers, ask for them at your local off licence. Watch out for the weight you will be putting on the balcony, I know it’s obvious but remember how much heavier everything will be once it is well watered.

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