Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Polytunnels, cold frames, greenhouses, propagators & more. How to get the best out of yours...

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Elmigo
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Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Elmigo » Sat Apr 13, 2019 5:18 pm

When you have no access to open ground and a huge passion for growing food, you gotta do something. I'm trying to make the best of this little balcony. I have three little fruit trees growing: apples, pears and a cultivated peach species. The rest are red berries, blackberries, raspberries, blue berries, and a whole lot of rows of lettuce, andive, spinach, even onions and a lot more. I figured that having little space is forcing me into efficient usage of it. Love this!

Last year I also had a self-built greenhouse on it but the summer heat on the sunny side of the building was just too much, even for heat loving plants like sweet pepper or tomatoes. This side of the bulding gets a lot of sunlight and it gets really hot there! By the way, we live in a temperate maritime climate.

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The rows look a little small and the crops don't get as big as on a real piece of land but it's the only way for now. All containers are placed carefully in the right position to receive enough sunlight. Last year it all grew really well! I wonder how this year will be.

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robo
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby robo » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:35 pm

Elmigo ,as far as balconies go that's a decent size ,I think I would be tempted to hang some troughs off the fence you could get a couple on the tall fence ,just a thought
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby oldherbaceous » Sat Apr 13, 2019 6:42 pm

What a good little set up, Elmigo and hopefully it will inspire others that have limited space to give growing things a go.
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Westi » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:05 pm

Looks grand & meeting your needs currently Elmigo, but Robo's suggestion is worth a thought as would help you grow more. I think you need praise for going for some small trees & fruit on a balcony, not many would attempt that. I hope you find a patch of land at some point as you've definitely got the itch!
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Primrose
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Primrose » Sat Apr 13, 2019 8:22 pm

Well done for such innovative use of space! I hope you will continue to keep us updated with your project. It certainly shows what can be achieved when you set your mind to something.
I think one longer term problem you may run into further down the line may be keeping the compost in your containers in good condition and heart when they they are intensively grown.
This is what I do with my patio containers in winter to keep the nutrient level up when they are bare of plants. I mix in my kitchen veg peelings, banana skins, chopper outer cabbage leaves etc deep into the compost in the pots and let everything rot down. By the time I'm ready to plant the containers up again in spring everything has composted down in situ which means the compost in the pots doesn,t have to be continually changed. Obviously this is not easy to do when you are on the upper storey on a block of flats with a balcony. I find doing this also helps to retain the moisture levels in the pots and prevents them drying out so quickly. I imagine it would be quite hard to find room for a proper composting container on your balcony.
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Elmigo
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Elmigo » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:26 pm

Primrose wrote:...I imagine it would be quite hard to find room for a proper composting container on your balcony.

Actually there is still some space left and it would be amazing to make my own compost. Do you just dig the banana peels and all that in the soil when the last crop has been harvested? Or would you create compost in a separate bin and use that for soil? I don't want to waste all the soil, usually it's still good for different crops and in some containers there's soil of last year. There are crops in it that need less/different nutrients that previous crops did not use as much. Have been thinking about hanging througs on the fence! Great idea.

And I love all those replies, thank you all! I want to grow as much as possible in this space, make my own smoothies and salads 100% at home.
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Stephen » Sat Apr 13, 2019 10:52 pm

Well done, that is certainly making your balcony work hard. You'll be doing a lot of watering in the summer.
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Elmigo » Sat Apr 13, 2019 11:37 pm

Stephen wrote:Well done, that is certainly making your balcony work hard. You'll be doing a lot of watering in the summer.


My biggest concern about that is washing away all nutrients in the soil. Should I water from below instead?
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Colin2016 » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:35 am

Brilliant...Do I see space for hanging baskets top right of picture?

How about a wormery for your compost needs or a hotbin composter?
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Primrose
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Primrose » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:24 am

Elmigo, When my patio pots are empty in winter I try and scoop an inch or two of soil from the top of the pot, fork in the banana peel, chopped vegetable skins or whatever and then cover up with the top soil, I think contact with some soil probably helps the material to compost down more quickly. I work on the basis that even in winter the pots might receive a little heat from the sun to help speed up the process, especially if one side of the pot is in sunlight.

Anyway, I find everything has rotted down by the time it's planting time in spring. Just be sure to chop everything finely which will speed up the process. I have even been guilty, when getting towards the end of the tumbling tomato cropping season, to lift the bottom foliage and put the chopped peelings on the surface of the soil. It all still rots down invisibly under the leaves. I just like not to waste composting material and to keep soil in the pots in a healthy condition.

Obviously if you suffer tomato blight you can't risk re-using the soil in those pots for growing tomatoes again next year for fear of infection from blight spores but possibly in your climate, wherever you are, tomato blight is less of a problem than here in England with our variable wet and then humid weather.

PS. Please do keep posting and updating us. It's really interesting to see how people tackle the specific challenges of growing vegetables in difficult or unusual environments and we can all learn something along the way, and hopefully perhaps come up with the odd suggestion which will help you make the most of what space you have available.

Incidentally, have you thought of growing pea shoots from the dried peas sold in packets for making soup? You may not have space for growing the actual peas, but if you put these on just an inch of compost in a shallow tray and keep them moist, they will grow delicious shoots tasting of peas, to garnish meals and to eat with salads.
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Elmigo » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:09 pm

Thank you! Yes, I have thought about growing peas and beans too. For most of them it's still too cold outside so I got a container of pole beans at the window. I never thought they would grow so fast and healthy in such a small container space (I was just experimenting around). Apparently they have a very shallow root system and don't require a lot of space to grow. I'm leading them sideways so the left plant goes up to the right side bamboo pole. That way they can grow a little bit longer before reaching the end of the pole.
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Got some bush beans too.
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Last edited by Elmigo on Sun Apr 14, 2019 4:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Primrose
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Primrose » Sun Apr 14, 2019 12:44 pm

Elmigo, there seems to be no limits to your attempts to stretch the boundaries.
You may soon have to move out of your apartment to leave enough space for the plants to grow in! :lol:
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Elmigo
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Elmigo » Sun Apr 14, 2019 1:10 pm

Primrose wrote:You may soon have to move out of your apartment to leave enough space for the plants to grow in!


Let's hope that I can make it happen anytime soon, can't wait to grow edibles on real, solid land! :lol:
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alan refail
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby alan refail » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:31 pm

Hi Elmigo
Are you in the Netherlands (or Belgium)? I spotted you labels for Kropsla, Andijvie, Spinazie and Stokslaboon.
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Re: Let me introduce you to my tiny little heaven!

Postby Elmigo » Sun Apr 14, 2019 5:44 pm

Just figured it might be fun to share some of the crops I am currently trying to grow in containers, so you get some idea of how much you can do with relatively little space. So here are some of the crops :mrgreen: those are not even all of them!

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1. Spinach, grows from seed to harvest very fast! Excellent for small containers because they take up little space.

2. Bok choy, grows pretty quickly in a trough on the balcony. Got a row of 6 plants. Can be used for many kitchen foods!

3. Sweet red pepper, grows behind the window, they need the heat. Watering from below in the green tray.

4. Andive, may not get as large in this narrow container as they do in open land, but still worth a try. Worked last year!

5. Curly lettuce, don't you just love to make 100% organic, home grown salads? I definitely love it.

6. Red leaf lettuce, same as above. Lettuce can't be left out your garden. No matter where you are!

7. Leaved lettuce, a variety that doesn't grow in one large head. You eat the leaves just like rocket greens.

8. Rocket, just like the above you eat the leaves. Well, everyone knows rocket, right? Good for salads!

9. Beans, and I got those bush beans, but also pole beans. Apparently the pole beans take up little space, amazing!

10. Tobacco, and I don't even smoke. Just wanted to try this for once and they seem to grow beautifully.

11. Kale, in the round black container grows 4 kale plants, including cauliflower and broccoli. Hope they do great.

alan refail wrote:Hi Elmigo
Are you in the Netherlands (or Belgium)? I spotted you labels for Kropsla, Andijvie, Spinazie and Stokslaboon.

You got an eye for detail I see! I'm from the Netherlands. Are you anywhere close to this area?
Last edited by Elmigo on Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
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