Many of us are just farmers at heart but rarely get to explore this side due to urban life. The fulfillment of consuming the produce you grow with your own labor and effort can be irreplaceable. Aside from the last harvest, the little experiences along the way, whether it’s the feel of dirt on your fingertips or the sight of a new bloom, are joys in their own right.
You don’t necessarily have to live in the country to start vegetable gardening, as long as you can provide your plants with adequate sunlight. Also, if you’ve ever felt the urge to grow your own produce, winter is the perfect time to start. Colder temperatures make growing vegetables more beginner-friendly, as plants are typically less thirsty during the winter months. Pests are also less of an issue when the temperature drops a few degrees.
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Check harvest window
While there are various hardy leafy greens and leafy greens to choose from for your garden, it’s important to check harvest time windows to ensure those that only thrive in winter have enough time to grow before the heat begins returns. While some vegetables like broccoli, cucumber, okra, and tomatoes can grow year-round in warmer regions, others like bitter squash, collards, lettuce, and radishes are especially winter-friendly.
Even if the plants of your choice are hardy, it’s still important to plant them in an area of your balcony or garden that will receive a few hours of direct sunlight.
Consider growing herbs
For many, growing herbs is the gateway to growing all kinds of fruits and vegetables. Freshly cut herbs tend to taste better than both dried herbs and those found in grocery stores. Coriander, mint, and holy basil are good options for tropical and subtropical climates, even in winter.
One of the quickest ways to grow herbs is from cuttings. All you have to do is cut off four to five inches of a healthy stalk, separate the lower leaves, and pop it in a glass jar filled with water. If your cuttings get enough light, a healthy root system should emerge after about two weeks. After a stable root system is established, you can repot the seedling to an area that receives a few hours of direct sunlight each day.
Gathering all the necessities
Before you start farming, you should try to get hold of all the necessities that can come in handy during the growing season. This may include some tools like scissors, spade and shovel. For vegetables and herbs, organic pesticides are the best way. Neem oil and neem oil sprays are some of the best organic pesticides to find locally. Also try to get your hands on some organic fertilizer as fertilizers are extremely helpful during the time of planting, flowering and fruiting.
Perfect the soil mix
If you plan to use containers or seed trays for your vegetable garden, soil is usually not enough. The soil is usually too heavy to provide adequate drainage. In addition, it lacks the necessary nutrients. Many online nurseries offer customers special vegetable soil mixes and seedlings if needed. If you prefer to make your own soil mix, prepare a mix of 55-60% topsoil, 30% organic matter, and 10% coco peat.
Customization requirements for balconies
If you are planning to turn your balcony into a vegetable garden for the winter, cherry tomatoes, chili, peas, turnips and smaller carrot varieties are your top choices. This vegetable usually adapts to smaller spaces without affecting its root system. Most herbs will also thrive on balconies, provided they receive enough hours of direct sunlight.
Although this vegetable adapts to balconies, make sure the pot you choose is as large as possible so containers don’t hinder growth. Some vegetables even need pots that are deeper than 30 cm. Make sure the pot has good drainage as well. This requires the pot to have a handful of drainage holes and good potting soil.
It is best to place the pot in areas of your balcony that are exposed to direct sunlight for a few hours, especially in the morning.
Finally, try to be as patient as possible. Waiting a long time for seedlings to develop into mature bearers of produce makes the process of eating what you sow extremely satisfying.