Grow Your Own on a Balcony

With a national lockdown and supermarkets depleted, producing your own fruit and vegetables has more appeal than ever.  And there’s so much you can grow in the smallest of spaces.

There’s nothing like freshly picked salad leaves, which grow well in containers.  Try compact lettuce ‘Little Gem’, cut and come again varieties or rocket, which can be picked when needed.  Lettuce dislikes full sun, so move the pot if necessary.  Chard and perpetual spinach are also good in containers and cope with some shade.  And even just one climbing French or runner bean plant in a 20/30cm pot will scramble up a pole and provide fresh summer produce.

Cherry tomatoes, like ‘Gardener’s Delight’ and ‘Sungold’, are ideal for hot balconies.  They’ll need a pot of around 30cm diameter with a supporting cane and lots of feeding.  Or try trailing varieties such as ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ in hanging baskets.  Other sun-loving vegetables include sweet peppers, courgettes and aubergines such as ‘Patio Mix’.  Herbs such as rosemary, thyme, chives and sage will also cope with balcony conditions and a chilli plant in a sunny spot will also flavour your meals all summer.

Root vegetables such as radishes, beetroot and carrots don’t need a huge container, but if your balcony can take the weight of a barrel, give early potatoes a go.

There are plenty of berries to grow in pots, and picking a few vitamin-packed berries for your morning breakfast is heaven. Strawberries are a must for pots or hanging baskets - and they’re less vulnerable to slugs when off the ground. Blueberries are also fab in containers, as they need acidic soil, easy to provide in pots. And try growing a thornless blackberry such as ‘Oregon Thornless,’ along railings or horizontal wires.

Start seeds off now, putting them on a sunny windowsill until they’re ready to plant out. Choose a container with drainage holes, big enough for your plant choice and fill with fresh, fertile, peat-free compost. Keep your plants well watered and fed, for fresh homegrown fruit and vegetables all summer long.