Summer gardening on a roof garden or balcony
With the growing urbanisation, there are fewer and fewer people that enjoy the luxury of having a garden. A very strange phenomenon is that these people tend to pave their gardens. Flat dwellers do the opposite. More and more they change their stamp-sized balcony or roof garden into a little green paradise in the clouds. It is almost as if they have more need for a bit of nature. Are you one of these people, or are you thinking about starting a high altitude garden? Here are some top tips to bear in mind when you create up your green paradise.
Light weight pots
The most important thing to know before you start on your garden is how much weight you can put on it. To keep the weight to a minimum you can use plastic containers or wicker baskets. A few larger pots often give a more spacious feel to your balcony than lots of tiny ones. The range of plastic pots is enormous and they look just like real terracotta or zinc.
Before you purchase your pots, make a plan of your plot and a list of the things you want to do there. Is it a very windy place or in the full sun, etc. Where and how do you want to sit in your garden, and will you be using the space for dining? In the last case you will need some kind of table.
When you have listed all your ideas and you have purchased the first pots, you can drill the drainage holes. When you drill them yourself, do so in the side of the pot at about 2 cm from the bottom. This way you don't have to put the pots on little blocks to let the excess water drain away.
Large pots can be a ¼ filled with polystyrene or hydro granules. Cover them with a piece of fleece (or old net curtain or tights) to prevent the soil from draining away. The rest of the pot is filled with potting compost (mixed with perlite). Although garden soil is cheaper, it does not contain as much nutrients as potting compost and your plants will really need them for good plant growth.
And now for the best job: choosing the plants! Don't be tempted to buy (often expensive) exotic plants. Much better to start with some sturdy, hardy perennials like hardy Buxus, ferns, hostas, ivy, bay or small conifers. This will provide you with a green base. Bring some colour in your garden in the first year with abundantly flowering annuals. You can raise them from seed or buy them as seedlings or plants. The range of summer flowering annuals is rather small, however. It usually comes down to busy lizzies, African marigolds, petunias, lobelias, fuchsias, geraniums and verbena varieties, which are of course lovely plants, but you can raise many more, even prettier plants from seed. Especially if you want to add your very own personal touch, raising from seed is the answer (in future). Some of the best are: love-in-a-mist, marigold (Calendula), California poppy (or any other poppy) and sweet peas to train along the balcony railing.
Remember that potted plants need watering more or less on a daily basis. Especially in a sunny spot they can dry out in a matter of days. Wait for the water to warm up a little, plants really dislike a freezing cold drenching.
Potted plants have relatively little soil. Therefore it is essential for healthy growth and lush flowering to add fertilizer regularly. Liquid or soluble fertilizers are most easy to apply. There are specific fertilizers for tub plants, buxus, roses or clematis.