Container Gardening


It’s been quite awhile since I wrote about our garden. We were in Illinois and had a 1600 square foot garden up until September 2015. Between preparing for an overseas move and our garden, I had little time to do much writing. We then moved to Germany, where we have no yard or garden but only a balcony. Fortunately our balcony is a decent size!

So now our new adventure is entirely container gardening. We’ve tried to select plants that will produce all season instead of single crops (like potatoes). Not a single plant on the balcony is decorative. Everything is edible.

Here is a short video tour, taken May 26, 2016. It’s a bit dark because it was taken at dusk.

If you’d like to see a bit closer view and explanation, there are photos to follow.

We bought this pepper plant October 2015, and it had a few red peppers on it. We overwintered it and had to remove blossoms several times, so the plant would grow larger. When we finally put it outside (hardened properly), it really struggled. Yet it’s still producing a fair number of small peppers.


The balcony is on the 3rd (European) floor, or 4th (American) floor. Each country starts the floor numbers differently. This borage is a huge attractor of pollinating insects. At almost constant streams, we see bees and butterflies stop by. Our plants are having no problem with pollination! My husband made the comment that he’s seen more honey bees here on our 4th floor balcony than our Illinois garden. I can’t vouch for that, but we’ve seen a constant stream when we’re out there.


Another variety of peppers are developing.


Here is rosemary and a row of pepper plants. We transplanted them into bigger pots today.


Chives, and peppermint following, started from seed November 2015.


The nasturtiums are really taking off. We always had terrible luck getting them to germinate, let alone grow to any decent size, in Illinois. We’d be lucky to have any come up, by direct sowing, in June! We started these from seed in late April.


(L to R) Curly parsley, sage (very small in the middle) and Italian flat leaf parsley, started from seed last fall.


Oregano and thyme we got at the local farmer’s market.


Ostara, an ever-bearing variety of strawberry. We mail ordered the starts through a company on Amazon in May. They never suffered transplant shock.


First strawberries.


A variety of butter lettuce (lactuca sativa var. capitata, alternately known in Austria as “Wintersalat Maria”) I picked up when we traveled to Austria. Started these about a week ago (mid-May). And they needed thinning, which I did later that day.


We picked up some small plants at a local nursery in April. We’re already having our first cucumbers that should be ready to eat pretty soon.


Two varieties of chard we got seed starts from a local nursery in April. I’ve already harvested these many times.


Who needs decorative plants when edible plants like chard are so beautiful!?


Let’s talk tomatoes. My husband thought I was a bit nutty starting this dwarf variety of tomatoes in November 2015, indoors. We have a really large south facing window, so I put them in the window sill. They were starting fruit in February. They had trouble adjusting to being outdoors but we took our time hardening them. We babied them a lot too, by bringing them indoors when it got too cold.


What was interesting to me is, we never needed or used grow lights. The south facing window was bright and warm enough apparently! They never got leggy either!


These tomatoes were plenty ripe on May 24. We had our first tomato feast on May 26. We’d be lucky to have our first really ripe tomatoes by late July in Illinois! Who would’ve thought we could grow something that soon in such a northern climate as Germany? Such a great experiment!


Calendula seedlings planted just last week.


We got this cilantro at the local farmer’s market about a week ago. It’s really taking off after the transplant.


Here we were, enjoying a leisurely breakfast, on the balcony surrounded by our garden plants, and keeping the decaf coffee hot with the sunshine. Then I trimmed some of our peppermint leaves, added some lemon slices to water to make a sun tea.


I hope you enjoyed the garden tour! Thanks for visiting!


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