Tuesday, 29 October 2013

mary mary quite contrary, how did our balcony do?

Now that flora is in decline and fauna is withdrawing to warmer places in anticipation of winter, I thought it'd be a good time to have a look at what our little balcony produced over the summer months.

I think we were a bit pessimistic about what a 1.5m x 3m east-facing balcony is able to turn over in the spring and summer, so we didn't plant very ambitiously and stuck to basic types of herbs and veg. We planted spinach, chards and some cavolo nero kale for green smoothies; lettuces,radishes and tomatoes for salads; kitchen herbs for general use: parsley, mint, chives, coriander. I added into the mix some rescue plants which were to decorate with their flowers and foliage.

The lushness of the summer growth was lovely. It really made a difference to our small concrete- and dark wood- clad outside space. Any amount of garden is a real garden, with living plants to tend to, therefore to learn about. I believe it's important to know how to care for and raise plants that are able to feed you - even if it's done in an amount of space so small it can barely be called a garden.

I like plants a lot, I like their quiet ways of responding and their colourful, winding, blooming, pollinating, fruiting communications. It's therapeutic to interact with a pot of earth and the magic in it on a daily basis, and to wonder about the sun-fed, root bound, leafy and petaled beings it nurtures which then will nurture us. I could gush on about plants and get lost in ponderings about how they work and how undeniably conscious they seem in their doings.... but let me trade in words for pictures that I'd collected about our mini garden and its edible residents over the summer.

Can you taste those sweet tomatoes? We had plenty of green smoothies too, of chards and spinach. Mint was enjoyed in a refreshing watermelon mint and rocket salad with a hoisin dressing, and in many a cup of fresh mint tea.

There were tender green beans too. We had a couple of good dinners and supplemented salads from a few bushes of low-growing, low-maintenance french green beans. 

The chards are still standing despite having been frozen by a few nights of -5 C. They are waiting to become smoothies a couple more times, then they will stay outside for the coming Narnia. I wonder if they will rise again in the spring for their bolting year as they should. We'll see!

Have you had any gardening joy this year? What do you think of raising plants in small spaces?


  1. These pictures look amazing. I love gardening and esp. for food. It makes me very proud to cook or bake with fruits and vegs that I harvested from my little roof-balkony. I have to try these beans next year. I tried the big climbing ones last year, but it was to hot for them in summer. Do your beans have a name?
    I wanted to take some photos of my green balkony as well, but after a storm it didn't look that pretty anymore, I had a some big losts on the tomato front. :-(

    1. I was also thinking to run some beans up on the wood cladding onto string to maximize the space, but then i decided against it for some reason and went with the bush beans. I have these bush beans from Weibulls, the variety is called Twix. They might be only for the Nordic countries, as they are a swedish company, not sure. A bush bean variety from Seminis (who is all over Europe - used to work for them too...) is called Lynx, you might be able to find that one in Bavaria. I also looked at an Austrian company ReinSaat, they have goodlooking bush bean varieties including Cupidon, Compass and Contender. Hope that helps :)
      Shame about that storm and the tomatoes... Here tomatoes don't do so well outdoors without a hothouse, it's just not the climate for them. By the time the majority of the fruits were ready to turn red it was mid September and the birds got interested in them :) still we had a few salads out of the early ones. Next year I might try some chili plants as well, see how they do. x

  2. Definitely a very green year for you! I used to have a balcony that was even a bit smaller, but I enjoyed every bit of it. Now, with a garden, we do have more space, but we don't really plant all that much - tomatoes, berries, cumquats (at least we tried this year), chilis, bellpeppers, that sort of thing. I'm a bit sad that some of the chilis are stil green and I hope that the last few rays of sunshine will help! xo

  3. I love the large image of the ripe tomato, it made me want to reach to grab it. It all looks great.

  4. wow, amazing how much you grew there on that tiny space! how inspiring! looks yummy and inviting...
    i had lots of planting joy, but with very different conditions. however, i did turn this little corner garden which is not optimal (too little sun) into a green haven the past months. pumpkins, tomatoes, bell peppers, different greens, flowers...made me very happy!

    nice to be back!


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