My Vegan Kitchen Container Garden Plan!

by L Matthews on March 11, 2013

balcony garden french

My balcony may be more East Van than Provence but it will be beautiful and bountiful!

It’s Spring! Which means that I am planning this year’s vegan kitchen garden activities, in another new space… new light conditions to get used to (a west-facing balcony), new space restrictions as I’m in an apartment, new sourcing decisions as I try to track down a compost-selling store within beleaguered walking distance. If only my little border collie gardening companion could morph (briefly) into a Great Dane I could load her down with sacks of potting compost – it’s not animal exploitation if she eats the kale and peas, right?

Did I mention it’s Spring!

Top Tips for Container Gardening

My balcony has a huge amount of potential as it gets great light in the afternoon, perfect for a tasty vegan savoury summer tart and a glass of Pimm’s or two with friends. When planning your balcony garden, spend a while checking where the light hits and then work out how to use that space. It could be that you get lots of hanging containers, or build a little stepped shelving unit to raise your pots to get more sun, using the lower steps for plants that need a little shade and run to seed (bolt) more quickly. My balcony is long and thin with a solid wall topped with a glass screen that adjoins the overhang of the balcony below, meaning that I have additional growing space on this flat tiled roof that will soak up the sun and be super warm in summer.

My vegan kitchen garden plan this year is to line up a whole load of long, thin containers on the flat roof abutting my balcony so I create a salad bar within easy reach for me but behind the glass partition so pooch can’t snaffle my kale while my back is turned (vegan dog superhero that she is). I’ll also construct a trellis for one wall that gets lots of sun so that I can have things growing up it and maximise space (a key tenet of balcony gardening – grow upwards!). Unfortunately, the railing at the top of my balcony is really rounded so containers will not perch on top without danger of falling. I’m sure I’ll find a way around this though, given time.

Balcony Garden Crops – Things to Consider

Another important aspect of container gardening, especially when living alone, is growing fast-maturing crops, and crops that give you a few fruits each week rather than a sudden glut of things (like with slow maturing onions, cauliflower, squash and melons that also take up lots of precious room. This way, you can continually sow and replace what you have eaten and enjoy things fresh without being inundated with produce you’ll never get through. As such, I spent a while considering my eating habits in summer, the likelihood of me forgetting to water plants (extremely unlikely this year as I’ll be working at a desk on my balcony!), and how much I can feasibly eat or preserve in some fashion. I plan on learning new kitchen garden preservation skills this year, including canning and jam-making which are, oddly, lacking from my skill set.

Choosing Seeds for a Container Garden

When choosing seeds for your vegan kitchen garden it’s important to determine how much space you want to dedicate to each crop, the available light and height, and what you plan on doing with the fruit, vegetables, leaves or flowers you grow. There’s no point planting a whole container of beets that mature all of a sudden and then realsiing that you don’t really like beets and have no idea what to do with several kilos of them. Container gardening requires a little more organisation than planting straight into the good old earth as space is at a premium so every inch counts. I recently acquired a secondhand copy of the Moosewood Restaurant Kitchen Garden cookbook and plan on arranging my life around this wonderful tome so maybe you want to get yourself a copy and we can exchange success stories!

So, to the seed selections

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