No garden, nice balcony, grow food!

With all the news about vertical farms and other weird structures designed to grow food it is good to step back and see what can be done now, without new buildings.

Some years back the local organic gardening group in Coventry ran a project giving away buckets used to transport flowers to florist’s shops. Included were a small bag of compost and a packet of seeds. The idea was to see what could be grown on a typical tower block balcony.

The results of the project were astounding with a variety of plants being grown and harvested very successfully.

Now there are all sorts of specialised containers around that are self watering and low maintenance. The most popular seems to be the Earthbox which originated in the US but is now readily available in the UK. The original design is not organic but The Organic Gardening Catalogue does have an organic version. (Or make your own self watering container see this post.)

There are many new city centre flats that have lots of glass. Some in Sheffield seem to have been custom built to grow food as they have balconies enclosed by large glass louvered windows.

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to get lots of Earthboxes on these balconies growing fruit and veg. The investment is small and the yields could be very high even in winter. Growing heritage varieties like crimson flowered broad beans would even look pretty. And it would really green up the city!

This is the number of seedlings that the manufacturers suggest:

Artichokes 2
Beans 16
Bell Peppers 6
Broccoli 6
Brussels Sprouts 6
Cabbage 6
Cauliflower 6
Celery 6
Chard 6
Corn 16
Cucumbers 4
Eggplants 2
Flowers 8
Greens 6
Herbs 6
Hot Peppers 6
Kohlrabi 8
Leeks 8
Lettuce 8
Melons 4
Okra 8
Onions 10
Peas 16
Salad Greens 8
Spinach 10
Squash 4
Strawberries 6
Tomatoes 2

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