I’m no green thumb but without question, the most successful vegetable garden I have ever grown was on the balcony of my third-floor flat when I was in my early twenties. It was a tiny space but enough for tomatoes, chillies, lots of herbs, lettuce, broccoli and strawberries. My success may have been largely due to the fact that snails and other bugs didn’t bother making the journey up to the third floor but regardless, my little garden produced enough to keep a seasonal supply of vegetables on my table.
Small, compact spaces offer lots of opportunities for creative gardening and, if your focus is on fruit and vegetables, gardening in pots and hanging baskets is perfectly manageable – if not ideal – for kids.
Media personality (and foodie), Indira Naidoo, discovered the joy of ‘balcony gardening’ some time ago and so enthusiastic is she about her little patch that she has written a book, The Edible Balcony.
The Edible Balcony begins with lots of good advice about how to set up your balcony garden (including some great ideas about hanging pots) and the types of plants suitable to grow in small spaces – in other words, leave the pumpkins for now and instead focus on growing cherry tomatoes, tasty herbs and baby carrots.
Once you’ve established your garden space, it’s all about seasons. Naidoo presents tips on what to plant and lots of recipes for your harvest into chapters on Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring.
I particularly like the look of the recipe for zucchini pickle – I always have a glut of zucchini and there’s only so much zucchini slice and zucchini pikelets that my kids are willing to eat! Also check out Naidoo’s recipe for Chicken Pot Pies – perfect for the wintery weather ahead.
The really appealing aspect of The Edible Balcony is that Naidoo has written from the heart and from her own experience – it gives the book an authenticity that some celebrity cookbooks lack.
Find The Edible Balcony at major bookshops or online at Readings.