The choice of setting up a vegetable garden on a balcony must take into account various factors, the main of which is your willingness to dedicate to the vegetables that you will plant all the care they need to grow in a space that can be considerably reduced and sometimes particularly exposed. If, having made the necessary evaluations, you have decided in a positive sense, all you have to do is adopt the necessary precautions to get the best from your plants, whether they are heads of lettuce, blond onions or small aromatic herbs.
First of all, to exploit the available space in the best possible way, it is advisable to privilege the use of square or rectangular containers also for the single aromatic plants, which, if chosen, should be planted in a row or in series. In the case of perennial aromatic plants such as sage or rosemary, it is advisable to provide a dedicated vase, given that they need a longer time to reach their maximum luxuriance. If you want to make even better use of the space you have, you can, taking advantage of the climbing abilities of some plants on sticks or trellises, use the one below to grow bush vegetables. As far as the dimensions of the containers are concerned, it is preferable that they are at least 40 cm on each side, with a depth related to the characteristics of the plant that is planted there, and that, in the case for example of highly leafy vegetables such as zucchini or tomatoes should not be less than 50 cm. It is preferable to use a universal garden soil mixed with a bit of sand, even coarse in the percentage of at least 10%, as the vegetables do not tolerate a layer of earth capable of retaining water for a long time which, instead, must be able to drain and scroll easily.
As mentioned, the particular arrangement of the balconies can sometimes expose the plants that you will want to grow both at the risk of a strong solar radiation, especially in summer and in our temperate zones, and to particularly insidious winds or heavy rains that would not allow an optimal drainage of the water in the containers. In these cases it is advisable to have adequate arrangements, protecting the plants with suitable covers and in the case of the wind, using supports for those with the weakest stem or simply placing them against the walls or railing.
However, if you want the rigors of the climate to influence the development of your plants as little as possible, you must opt, always taking into account the layout of your space, for vegetables that love the sun and heat, such as tomatoes or aubergines, to be planted in a space. facing south, or for others that better withstand the cold, such as garlic, onion, spinach, radicchio or chicory, if your balcony is not adequately protected from the icy northern winds. In this case it is also advisable to address also early varieties of suitable species, ie fast-growing vegetables whose vegetative development will not be subjected to too many delays due to cold winter days.
Finally, if you want to further protect your plants, it is advisable to mulch using biodegradable interrabile material next to them and after the end of winter.
Once the vegetable garden is planted on the balcony, to ensure that your efforts are not in vain, it is necessary that you provide the plants with the care and attention they need.
First of all, they must, through the necessary waterings, receive a water supply based on their size. It is advisable to pour this directly on the ground and never wet them with rain, so as not to create a thermal shock to the plants, as would happen if you watered them directly on the roots. It is also preferable that the water is supplied to them after sunset, so that they have all night to absorb it, considering that in the early morning most of it will evaporate with the sun.
As far as fertilization is concerned, special care must be taken, as too high a dosage would cause damage to the roots. It is however preferable not to use liquid fertilizers of chemical origin, and opt for those of organic derivation such as earthworm fertilizer, very nutritious and suitable for this kind of plants.
Pests and diseases
With regard to pest attacks and the onset of diseases, vegetables grown on the balconies are more resistant than those grown in open fields and especially in greenhouses, where high temperatures and high humidity favor the development of fungal diseases . In fact, the reduced space provides the best conditions for balcony vegetables to always remain fresh and well-drained. Furthermore, it is always possible to act in a preventive manner, for example by coupling different varieties that benefit each other, such as leeks and carrots, whose proximity protects both plants from pests. And yet, we must not forget the contribution of aromatic ingredients which, if planted wisely, have a good repellent effect on them.
If you observe these suggestions for a correct cultivation you will always have tasty and genuine vegetables available. However, especially if you have set up your garden in a city balcony, pay particular attention to certain color changes in the leaves that can be caused by fine dust pollution. In this case it is better to avoid the consumption of the vegetable, given that this particular state of the foliage indicates that the plant has completely absorbed the harmful molecules. If, on the other hand, its appearance is healthy, to free it from any polluting traces it will be enough to wash it thoroughly with water and baking soda.