Gardening has become a very popular pastime in the last 6 months or so, and as has been quoted before all you need is a pot and some soil. Nicky Bowdidge was kind enough to show me how she has started her “allotment” in her apartment and on her balcony.
On a lockdown budget Nicky has created the beginnings of her kitchen garden proving that all you need are a few containers and a bit of soil to get going. Her enthusiasm for the project is infectious and inspiring in difficult times. Using her initiative Nicky has repurposed plastic food pots, yoghurt pots and plastic beakers filling each with various seedlings.
Many of the seeds that Nicky grows are from fruits and vegetables that she and her partner have eaten. Her vast array of seedlings includes sproutings from kitchen scraps such as carrots, shallots and even a cabbage! She is also growing from seed peppers, tomatoes, and french beans. Nicky says “In my head I have room for all these plants! I’d only grown a couple of shop bought plants before, stuff like basil and parsley. The only cost so far has been two 2 litre bags of potting compost and a bottle of liquid fertilizer both from the local shop. Total spend so far is probably less than €10.” To make sure that she can take full advantage of the sun in her apartment, Nicky has employed the help of a hostess trolly and can happily wheel her garden around to where the sun is shining.... now that’s initiative!
I shall visit Nicky again in the near future to find out how the garden is growing... she tells me that she has recently sprouted a Loofah, I’ll be interested to see how that grows inside.
My top tips of the week
· Choose the right plants for your balcony, if you have full sun try grasses, strawberries, sage, basil, lemon or orange trees in a pot.
· Use compost which is specifically for use with pots.
· Remember that once pots are wet they will be heavier, you may need to check the weight load of a balcony.
· Balconies may suffer from strong winds so screening to block the wind and or strong sunlight may be a good idea.
· Use a mulch on top of pots to keep the soil moist and remember to water.
Good for bees: White clover (Trifolium reopens)
Now is the time of year that many gardeners are emptying their vegetable growing beds and thinking about how to fertilize and ready the ground for the next season. It’s also a great time to plan pathways and some planting areas to feed the bees which need a diverse food source to maintain bee health. White clover is a fantastic choice, its low growing, shallow rooted and can be used for pathways between beds, a food source which bees love and as green manure. Through the bacteria on its root nodules it takes atmospheric nitrogen and fixes into the soil which is then usable for future plants. Best turned into the ground before flowering while it is still tender for green manure, if left to flower the clover adds great habitat for all sorts of pollinating insects. It can also provide a wonderful green area instead of lawn, and is low maintenance. Its a living mulch and soft to walk on though not heavy traffic areas. This is the green manure we chose this year and if the ants leave the seed alone I am hoping for lots of happy bees.
The Mallorca Gardeners group has certainly been busy with their balcony gardens and terraces this year and here is a photo that was sent in.