My Balcony Garden – Week 3

7 May

Er, in case you couldn’t discern from the title of this blog, I live in Amsterdam. If you’ve never visited, let me tell you that living space is at a premium. We live in a 55 square metre apartment on the first floor. We have a 4×1.5 metre balcony that (lucky for me) is south-facing.

As a Canadian gal, I grew up having a vegetable garden in our yard. It’s so satisfying to grow your own food from seed.

This is the fourth year that I’ve had a balcony garden. The weather obviously is the deciding factor on how my plants grow. Last year, it was gorgeous here until August, and then it rained non-stop. The lack of rain and no sun stunted (or ruined) my strawberries, peas, and carrots. The fail-safes (lettuces, tomatoes and herbs) were fine.

This year I’ve got: rainbow chard, cascading cherry tomatoes, beets, Asian lettuce mix, raspberries and herbs (cinnamon basil, regular basil, flat-leaf parsley and oregano).

Rainbow chard - a good choice for the balcony.

I don’t know how or why and I don’t want to question it too much but we’ve had one helluva spring. And by “helluva”, I mean, the entire month of April has been not only sunny, but extreme above-average temperatures for this time of year. Last year in mid-April I was wearing my winter jacket still. This year? It’s been 24-27 degrees. Unbelievable!

Here’s how the weather’s been on the balcony garden:

Maximising space on the balcony is always a challenge and a compromise. Not ALL plants can be grown in pots successfully. I’ve opted for easy growers (lettuces and herbs) in hanging grow bags (which I got at Hema if you’re in Amsterdam) and wall-mounted pots + larger pots for the beets, swiss chard and raspberries. When the tomatoes grow their first true leaves, I will transplant them into a large bucket, which will be modified so that the tomatoes grow upside down.

I’ll post more on that soon.

2 Responses to “My Balcony Garden – Week 3”

  1. Ashley August 21, 2011 at 5:55 am #

    Just been googling Amsterdam balcony gardens and found you. We just arrived this week, empty flat, fourth floor, tiny balcony. First priority – the garden. Roughly 7 metres by, hmm, 1 metre. I’ve already checked out the flower market but it’s not got what I’m looking for. Where do you go to get plants, soil etc? Are there garden centres in town? Be really grateful for any pointers. Cheers.

    • amansterdam August 22, 2011 at 9:10 am #

      Hi Ashley,

      Welcome to Amsterdam! Yeah, the flower market is just for tourists really. If you want to get plants, your best bet is to check out the Saturday markets in the Jordaan. There are plant vendors on the Lindengracht market (on the corner of the 1st Goudsbloemdwaarstraat) and in the organic market (on the corner of Westerstraat and Prinsengracht…though, it’s high-season holiday time for Dutchies right now, so the guy here may still be on holiday). This is where I buy most of my stuff. They even have bottles of dried up cow manure in pellets for fertilizer.

      There are garden centres, but they are on the outskirts of the city, so unless you have a car, it’s pretty slim pickings. You can get soil everywhere, Albert Heijn often has it in stock.

      This year, I bought most of my seeds from an organic seller on ebay. The raspberries, cherry tomatoes and beets were most successful for me this year (I really need to update my blog!).

      Anyways, hope this helps. I know how tough it is coming from a backyard situation to a balcony situation. My little garden is a little bit of home.

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