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Vegetable plants you can grow on your balcony this summer

plants you can grow on your balcony

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Think because you live in the city you can't do country things in your garden? Are you wondering what plants you can grow on your balcony this summer? Will anything grow? We're here to tell you, yes. In abundance.

It’s been about seven years since I started growing fruits, flowers and veggies on my deck in Toronto and every year the bounty gets bigger and more beautiful. It’s easier to harvest and eat fresh greens when they are practically right in front of you. I’m still mystified that I can grow my own produce from tiny little‌ seeds. Most of the leafy greens I grow on my balcony start indoors as a seed on a windowsill. If you’re in Toronto, you can start the following seeds right now:

6 veggie plants you can grow on your balcony
growing kale in toronto
Kale

Kale is a versatile kitchen staple and a super easy vegetable plant for beginners and seasoned veggie plotters. This leafy vegetable can grow in sunny spots or shade. You can buy kale as baby plants, but the plant is easily and cheaply grown from seed. You can sow the seeds indoors from March or outdoors from May.

Onions

When growing onions on your balcony, you have a choice of either using seeds, transplants, or sets, it’s essential that you put the onion container where it will get six to seven hours of light. While seeds can take months to mature, the onion bottom — which is the root end of an onion — can easily grow new onions. Just chop away the bottom part, let it dry, and hang it over a bowl of water using toothpicks. When roots grow, plant it in a pot.

Cabbage

Growing cabbage from seed in a container is straightforward. Simply take a wide tray and fill it with potting soil. Then sprinkle your seeds on the soil and cover them with a thin layer of potting mix. After watering your seeds, place the tray where it will get two to three hours of sunlight. Transplant the seedlings after four-six weeks of germination, when they grow to about four inches tall.

Spinach

Growing spinach in a pot will go a long way to prevent soil-borne pests and diseases from damaging your crop. Since spinach takes between 40-45 days to reach harvesting potential, this often allows for successive plantings. Keep in mind that spinach is a cool-season crop and will bolt in warmer temps, so it’s important to provide this vegetable with shade if temperatures exceed 80 F on your balcony. 

Broccoli

Broccoli is quite happy to grow in pots on your balcony. However, it gets a very wide spread, so plant only one seed per 5-gallon container. Broccoli seeds germinate at 75-80 F. and may not sprout outdoors if temperatures are still too high. If you’ve started seeds indoors, harden off your seedlings by setting them outside a few hours each day for two weeks before moving them out for the season.

Peas
growing peas in toronto

Plants you can grow on your balcony this summer.

Peas prefer cool conditions, so planting them now is your best bet for a plentiful harvest. Plant the peas in a circle around the edges of the container about 1 inch from the edges of the pot, two inches from each other and one inch deep. Then cover gently with soil. Peas grow quickly, about 60 days to mature from seed, and yield a large harvest with little effort. The must-haves for growing peas are full sunlight and moist soil.

It is indeed easy to grow your own vegetables on a balcony in Toronto. When growing veggies in a container, choose fabric grow bags. Unlike plastic pots, fabric grow bags are lightweight, breathable and drain well, which will prevent roots from getting soggy. White and terracotta pots are also fantastic for maximum growth, especially for heat sensitive plants, since darker colours attract more light to the soil and can burn the plant’s roots. Always go select the largest pots you can find and fit on your balcony. A huge bonus of container growing is that you can easily move them around if it gets too hot. As long as your plants have at least six hours of direct sunlight, sufficient water, and ample room to grow, they will reward you. On average, a single broccoli see can yield roughly eight ounces of broccoli, or one head. Keep in mind, all plants love nutrients, too. Look for the N-P-K ratio on the back of the pack and, for most crops, choose one that has an approximately equal amount of each. N stands for nitrogen, P is for phosphorus, and K is for potassium. These are the three nutrients that plants need most.

5 reasons to grow your own fruits and veggies on a balcony

1. When you grow your own fruits and vegetable, even on a balcony, it tastes better. The glorious taste of homegrown fruits and vegetables results from their freshness. Growing your own produce on the balcony also gives you complete control over which (if any) pesticides and fertilizers are used.

2. You’re doing something good for the environment. Traditional agricultural practices lead to topsoil depletion, groundwater contamination, air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and more.

3. Fruits and veggies grown at home are free of pesticides and other preservatives, frequently used in mass production. Excessive use of fertilizers and pesticides like DDT to enhance crop yield are harmful to environment and human health through air, water and soil pollution.

4. Global food supplies are currently facing an enormous challenge. As the population rises, so too does the need for food. Your seed could be the difference.

5. You’re contributing to Transform TO, a climate action pathway to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in Toronto by 2040.

If you have a little balcony with a bit of sun in Toronto, then you have what it takes to grow a variety of fruits and veggies in the city. Plus, it’s never a bad idea to put your green thumb to use. Organically growing your own produce is sustainable and nourishes your soil by using safe and natural fertilizers and products. Why not grow your own vegetables on a balcony this year and a take a step towards Toronto’s climate action strategy? Let’s TransformTO together.

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