Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Cultivate the Balcony Garden


When I asked one of my friends, how does he look 10 years younger than what he is he told me the secret to have it is having organic food everyday free from chemical treatments, breathing as much natural clean air as possible and regular meditation and exercises. The one that struck me is that of the organic food. So the obvious question cropped up, from where do we get organic food and then he suggested the brightest way.



If you live in the city and the only open space available is a balcony of few square meters, do not despair. With a little positive will we can create the right conditions for the life of our little garden on the balcony while we also have the pleasure of eating the vegetables that we have seen grow. Before you begin this new adventure it is necessary to assess the exposure of our vegetable garden on the balcony.

The ideal position for growing vegetables in all the balconies is oriented to the east, southeast, west and south-west because they receive the right amount of light and heat. The south-facing balconies are very sunny, and should therefore be provided protections such as screens or sheds to be able to keep the plants in the shade during the hottest hours.

If we have the misfortune of having a north-facing balcony there is nothing we can do, because the limited exposure to sunlight forces us to greatly reduce the variety of plants that we can grow. However, there are variety of plants that love the sun, such as tomatoes, eggplant, cucumbers, peppers, herbs and others that prefer shade positions such as spinach, lettuce, carrots, radishes and herbs.

If our balcony is small the advice is to choose where possible the climbing varieties instead of the bush. This will make it easier to gain space for our vegetable garden on the balcony. Another solution is to use pot holders to grow in height in a single pot or planting more varieties of vegetables, but you need to pay attention to combinations as plants of the same family do not get along.

After placing all of our vessels we had to hunt for the fertile soil for our vegetable garden on the balcony that would add nutrients suitable for the growth of our vegetables for the whole season. In this case we also used natural fertilizers like cow dung, and drop them on the soil about 3 weeks before sowing or transplantation.

We always use organic fertilizers, nitrogen-rich ones that are suitable for leafy vegetables, while those rich in phosphorus for all the vegetables we pick the fruits. If for some vegetables only a single fertilization is enough, for others, such as tomatoes, or cabbage and all those species that have a long growing season, it is necessary to resort to more frequent fertilization. To these we can use fertilizers with rapid effect, acting quickly releasing nutrients directly to the roots.

The mode of seeding varies according to the type of vegetable. Some need to be sown directly in pots, others in seedbeds. On the packaging of standard seeds, the indications and timing of sowing are described.

For sowing in seedbeds  

1. Take a container of 10 cm depth, as for example a box of fruit in which we have cellophane, or an egg. Drill holes in the bottom and place the soil for planting. Sow and cover with a sheet of clear plastic to create the greenhouse effect. The soil should be kept damp (not wet) until the germination.  

2. Once germinated, the seedlings should be transplanted in small jars, putting away for some time, until it is stiffened and will not be ready for the final transfer.

3. When our plants have already sprouted a few leaves we can proceed to transplantation. Insert a piece of earthenware clay and foam on the bottom of the pot that will accommodate the plant, fill with soil fertilized and leave a hollow deep enough.

4. Remove the plant from the pot with all the land around it and proceed with the transplant. Pour into jars the already rich soil of nutrients needed to accommodate the plant throughout the season and set the crock and expanded clay on the bottom for drainage. Sow and protect the earth by hanging a net, so that the birds cannot damage it.

By following sustainable policies we can get committed to maintain a harmony through the environmental impact of our activities, improving our health and lifestyle and promoting the responsible use of resources.

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