Step 1 - Pay attention to sunlight
To grow properly, first and foremost, fruit and vegetables need good exposure to sunlight. This applies to any vegetable garden, whether it’s on land in the countryside or whether it’s a vegetable garden on a balcony or on a terrace in a built-up area.
If your balcony is facing north, it will get little light and, even then, only for a short time during the day. Leafy vegetables, such as salads, beets and spinach or certain herbs, such as parsley, basil and dill, are best suited to these conditions.
On the other hand, balconies facing south-east or south-west will enjoy good amounts of light and allow you to grow many more vegetables, such as Solanaceae, for example. We’re talking about tomatoes, peppers and chillies, aubergines and potatoes. However, you need to pay attention to the more delicate vegetables during the summer, when the sun is more intense, as they will need more care and attention. Over time, understanding exposure to sunlight properly will help you wisely assess which horticultural varieties to focus on.
Step 2 - Choose the right space for suitable seeds
All types of balconies are suited to making a vegetable garden at home, what’s important is choosing the right vegetables: it will be easier to make a vegetable garden on a large terrace with great exposure to sunlight and you can grow many types of vegetables, even those that require more space, like courgettes and melons. However, you can also use a smaller space or even just a window sill to try and sow a few smaller plants, like salads or chillies. Not all balcony gardens are the same. There are several details that can make a difference: for example, if there are railings that allow the passage of sunlight starting at the bottom. Or, conversely, low walls that mean the containers we decide to use need to be placed higher. In this regard, new solutions are being developed to meet the different needs that are arising. For example, to create a vegetable garden on a balcony (or on a small terrace), many use the vertical garden technique featuring containers and flower boxes that hang from the walls. This approach allows you to make the most of otherwise unusable wall space and allows the cultivation of small plants, such as aromatic and medicinal plants, which you should always grow in your outdoor space, in any case.
Step 3 - The right pot at the right time
Once you’ve chosen the space, you can begin to furnish your terrace or balcony based on the space available with large planters, vases of all shapes and sizes or small flower boxes, that can be hung on the walls. If you decide to add medium-sized planters, it’s preferable to use those made of aluminium, because they’re lighter and allow more air through.
In general, we recommend rectangular, classic balcony pots, at least 25 cm deep, because this type of pot allows you to plant more than one variety in the same pot (see below), and the iron handles on this type of pot let you optimise the available space even further.
Step 4 - Associations between types of plants and vegetables
To make the most of all your pots and planters, you can use intercropping, growing vegetables with different nutritional and development needs in the same pot. By doing so, you can cultivate many more vegetables that grow in synergy with each other. Here are a few practical examples: you can put parsley, celery or basil in the shade of tomato plants, which grow upwards, since the former grow better in more shaded areas.
Step 5 - Put flowers in your... vases
Always add pots with aromatic herbs and flowers because they attract pollinating insects, which are essential for the development of the fruits of our vegetables. As well as embellishing our terraces, flowers and herbs enrich biodiversity, keep pests away (for example, savoury and thyme keep aphids away) and can also be used in the kitchen. What could be better than that?!