Summer is the time to enjoy the colorful and tasty results of your planning and hard work, according to Chris Collins, the association’s head of organic horticulture. Organic garden. “A chair is essential this time of year so you can soak up all the hard work you’ve put into creating your summer balcony garden oasis.”
“Once the big jobs like your seasonal planting are done, it doesn’t take much effort to maintain a small space organically. But I can say from my own experience – the rewards are priceless!
“To me, summer is all about tinkering and staying on top of maintenance. Make sure the conditions are right for your plants and enjoy cooking and eating using your local supply of edible herbs and salad leaves.
Chris’ tips for the balcony summer garden:
Watering properly is the number one priority when summer arrives. It’s always the first thing I do every day, even before breakfast. Check every plant on your balcony and make sure the soil is moist.
For those who have more space, install a water collector and collect rainwater. This is a more sustainable solution and will also benefit plants and wildlife.
Water the soil directly and try not to splash your plants too much. It is best to do this when the temperatures are cooler outside. Dawn or dusk are the ideal times to water and check the health of your plants.
Follow the DDD rule
Remove any dead, diseased or damaged leaves and you can care for the plants without the need for chemicals. Many fungal diseases are secondary and will arrive on a plant that already has dead or damaged material. Keeping this under control is good biological practice.
During this time, the dead head of faded flowers will encourage new ones. Also try pinching the tips of the plants to encourage a bushier frame.
Grow your own salad bar
One of the highlights of my balcony summer garden is having regular access to fresh food. Re-sow edibles regularly and play with the shape of your garden. A large trough or planter, for example, can be used for lettuce leaves, arugula, spinach and micro-crops.
Sow them in thick rows (seeders) leaving enough space between each seeder to sow again – you will have your own continuous cropping system.
Harvest them with a pair of scissors when the leaves are still young and tender, immediately add them to your salad.
Caring for summer balcony plants
Due to the lack of natural soil, it can be difficult to ensure that the plants in your balcony summer garden are getting all the nutrients they need. I would suggest choosing a decent, peat-free compost. However, this compost ‘leeches’, meaning regular watering will wash nutrients through and out of your containers. It will therefore be necessary to supplement it with organic fertilizer.
Try adding Bocking 14 Comfrey Pellets, a slow-release organic fertilizer, to your compost. Another great way to strengthen your balcony plants is to apply liquid food little and often. Organic seaweed extract is best because it acts as a tonic, making it a hardy plant that is less prone to pests and diseases.
If you have the space, you can do your own composting by setting up a vermicomposter or using a compost bin. Then you will have access to your very own top-dress.
Stake and support balcony plants
As the sun encourages the plants to grow, you will need to ensure they are supported against the unpredictable British wind and rain. Use reusable bamboo canes or pea sticks to support the peppers and eggplants.
Make sure your plants are properly secured when staking by using a good quality soft twine and tying a figure of eight around the plant stem and cane. This will prevent chafing and damage to the plant and reduce the chances of disease entry.
Managing balcony pests in summer
Most wild visitors should receive a warm welcome in our gardens. The more varied and diversified it is, the more nature is supported. However, we need to keep an eye out for potential pests like aphids and whiteflies. You can rub them by hand in many cases. You can even find slugs going up a few floors, which can also be removed by hand.
I encourage small birds like blue tits to help with the pest control work. Planting to encourage predators will keep potential pest numbers manageable. The fennel is great to incorporate as you go. grown from seed, it will attract hoverflies which devour hundreds of aphids a day.
I don’t need many excuses to go out on my balcony, especially on a nice summer day. Vegetable gardening in the garden, whether extensive or on a small balcony, is one of life’s great pleasures. I truly believe that whatever outdoor space you have, you can bring it to life in so many creative ways. Be innovative and design a space that works for you. A mix of colorful flowers and wildlife-friendly edibles is an ideal combination.
We always love to see your mini garden designs so don’t forget to take pictures and share them with us by tagging @GardenOrganicUK on social networks.
Garden Organic aims to share the joys and benefits of organic farming, essential to a healthy and sustainable world. For more advice and information, please visit gardenorganic.org.uk