Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lovage on a balcony

Herbs represent a great part of my balcony garden and I must say that growing herbs on a balcony has been very rewarding. I have managed to squeeze in my garden most of the herbs I need and commonly use in my kitchen.

Lovage(Levisticum officinale)
This plant is a perennial and it's pretty easy to cultivate, so I can recommend it to most gardeners. It resembles Celery, but grows much bigger and has stronger taste. I use it for culinary purposes, usually in dishes where celery or parsley is used, but it also has a lot of medicinal properties(vitamin C). However, you shouldn't use a lot of it, because it has a much stronger taste than Celery or Parsley. In my country people call this plant Vegeta, because in taste it resembles the product called Vegeta. Maybe some of you heard of it or maybe even tried it. Vegeta is an authentic Croatian product used for seasoning dishes. It's o.k., but a herb is a herb! Take a look at my balcony garden Lovage!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Containers for balcony railings

Every balcony gardener has to find his own way of creating his or hers own unique garden design. Even the smallest balconies can be transformed into little urban gardens. Of course, the space you're dealing with is usually the main issue. Trying to create a balcony that will be a comfortable extension of your living space in one hand and a beautiful edible garden in other, can be somewhat difficult. That's why we have to use our imagination and creativity, but never neglect functionality and sustainability.

If you want to make more space for your plants you can use planter brackets, plant hangers and plant boxes and still have adequate space for everyday activities on your balcony. I have done something like that, but still I'm thinking about drilling some holes in the wall and putting some shelves on it. A couple of shelves with some herbs in containers on them would work great! Gardening in containers seems to be one of the main features of balcony gardening, but everyday there's something new in gardening world and sometimes worth attention. Revealing new and amazing things in gardening world is my passion and I must say many of my Google searches resulted in A-HA effect or at least placed a smile on my face.

Here's one the results of my Google search I decided to share. I think it might be helpful and can resolve very important space issues on some balconies. Unfortunately, it's made only for those balconies equipped with railings, so those of you with balcony railings, take a close look. I think it's a great idea, maybe it's an old one, but I've never seen containers like this one! This is a special container made for railings!

Find out more about it at!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Update on balcony veggies

Finally, got the camera so I can record the fruits of my labor or better said veggies!

Everything seems to be growing well, but I'm a little bit worried because I think I planted too many plants in one con
tainer. I'm afraid that there won't be enough space for roots and they might get root bound. Actually, I think that it might not be deep enough for cherry tomatoes and peppers. They are in flowering stage and producing heavily, so transplanting them to another, bigger container wouldn't be a good idea right now. Even if that wasn't the case, i.e. if they were still in vegetative phase, I don't think I could find more space for them. However, we learn while we grow and grow while we learn!

Take a look at the progress my balco
ny garden is making, there are more and more cherry tomatoes every day and paprika looks very promising too. I'm so happy I have my own little organic garden, high up in the sky! There's nothing like the smell and taste of your own homegrown organic food. All it takes is a few seeds, soil and a whole lot of love!

Urban balcony gardening rocks!

Cherry Tomatoes


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Pigeon vs Cd

After some time now, I finally came to a conclusion and regarding aesthetics of my balcony garden, it's a pretty important one.

It seems that one of the methods I use in order to keep pigeons away from my balcony and my garden is/or became inefficient. By became
inefficient, I mean that possibly pigeons got used to it, because it's a commonly used pigeon prevention method in my city for some time now. I know some people that say it works, yet others say it doesn't. There also some people who say they are among the first ones that have practiced the method and they came to a conclusion that it was efficient for some time, but not any more! Well, I've been practicing three or at least two methods trying to get rid off pigeons, so I can't conclude for sure the efficiency of this one solely. What I can say is: there is possibility that this method never kept the pigeons away and there is a possibility that this particular method worked for a while, until they got used to it. Hmm, there's one more thing that might clarify this puzzle or at least try to. Before an hour ago or so, I was walking through my neighborhood gazing at stars as always and checking out some other urban balconies, and guess what do I see!? A window, three Cds tied together above the window and you guess, three pigeons having a good time!

At least, I can conclude that this method solely is inefficient, however I don't think I'll be taking the Cds off before I conclude the same through my own experiments. It might sound a little stupid, it does to me as well, but I don't want to gamble with my plants!

More space for plants

My urban garden, a balcony in Zagreb is a happy place!

Cherry tomatoes are growing like crazy and in last few days producing heavily. I can't wait for my own organic cherry tomato salad, of course with some basil in it . Unfortunately, I don't have a camera so there's no way I can record the amazing growth rate of this plants and share it with you. However, my brother should be back in Zagreb in a few days and again, hopefully, will help his little brother to document his balcony garden and borrow him his camera.

Growing plants in your home garden can be very rewarding as it might bring you your own homegrown food, a great aesthetic experience and some would even say a therapeutic one. Life in the city doesn't have to be and I say must not be nature free, so just keep on growing!

Some of the greatest limitations in urban gardening are: space available for your plants and the amount of light your urban garden receives. My balcony garden is faced East, so I get about 5 or 6 hours of sun and that seems enough for most of my plants. Regarding the space issue, I can only say I try to make the most of it. Apart from a built in concrete planter box and a considerable amount of containers, I've done a few more things to make the most of the space I have. Still, I have enough space to take a nap on my old bench or make barbecue, eat, chill and so on...

Here are a few things you can do that will enable you to grow more plants you love without limiting your living space.

Plant hangers and planter brackets

After the rain

Monday, June 25, 2007

One and only

There are a lot of plants growing in my garden and every other day nature takes care to make my balcony a great living space. A few days ago my one and only garden rose rewarded us with a beautiful flower.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Wind and rain

Last night was extremely windy, but fortunately it brought some rain with it and right now I can say it looks like it's going to be a beautiful day. I know most of you are waiting and hoping for some rain and I hope your wishes will be fulfilled!

However, even if rain is a welcome guest in my garden, very strong wind can create a few problems, as it was the case last night. Fortunately, it woke me up so I was able to minimize the damage. I had to move some of the containers, just to be sure, don't want to see them falling. All the cuttings and baby plants are o.k., but they were also sheltered. On the other hand, those plants left in the wind, especially those that weren't sufficiently supported are the ones that reacted the worst, logically. It doesn't look like a lot of damage has been done, but I'll be able to say for sure in a few days.

Keep on growing!

Thursday, June 21, 2007


There is some kind of fireworks contest in my city(Zagreb) and I have just recorded a few photographs, so take a look! It´s just a glance from my balcony!

Pinching basil plants

Basil can be easily grown, whether from seed or cuttings, indoors or outdoors. This beautiful herb just keeps on rewarding you and you´ll be glad that you have found a place for it in your own home garden. However, like every other plant, Basil requires certain growing environment, i.e. suitable conditions and in this case that primarily means enough warmth and light.

Pinching or pruning is a very important feature of basil growing and a necessary practice, especially if you want to make the most of your garden. Once your small basil plants have grown and established a quality root system, it´s time for pinching! You have to pinch the top of the plant to promote branching and prevent early flowering. Eventually, flowers will start to grow and again you have to cut those off! By doing so, you are delaying flowering and channeling the energy of the plant from flower production into leaf production. However, it is smart to let your basil flower eventually, because it will reward you with fresh seeds for the next season. Great leaf production is what we are after an interestingly enough, Basil reacts very well when we clip some of those(not all) leaves off and again it produces more and more.
Grow your own Basil and you´re about to have a great growing experience and a constant supply of your own fresh herb! Here are a few photographs that should help you visualize how to pinch a flower off your basil plant! It´s very simple, take a look!

Pinching flowers off my basil plant

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

First baby tomatoes

Finally, I have some real veggies growing in my urban garden!
It was a hot morning high up in the sky and I was just checking on my balcony plants. My cherry tomatoes have been flowering for a week and today, first baby tomatoes were waiting for me. Yiiippyyy!! Those are first tomatoes on my balcony ever! On the other hand, I´m a little bit worried because my regular tomato plants started flowering before the cherrys, but still I can´t see a single baby tomato. However, now that my tomato plants(hopefully all) will be carrying some extra weight, they require adequate support. It was really getting crowded in the tomato area and plants were all tangled up. The growth rate of this plants is amazing, but some of my other plants were suffering because of lack of light and air. I can only hope that I have done a good job pruning and securing my plants, so that my garden remains a happy place for all of my plants.

Baby tomato

Take a look at some photographs of my balcony plants from another perspective and check out the jungle tomato plants have created. This photographs were taken after I have done pruning and securing support for my plants, so you can only imagine how it looked before that!

Tomato jungle

Monday, June 18, 2007

Flowers on a balcony

As you have been able to see from my previous posts, it´s possible to grow almost anything right in your own urban home garden. You can live your usual city life and still experience all the pleasures and joys of gardening. It does not require a lot from you, yet as things are going in the world, I think it is becoming a highly important issue which needs to be brought to attention. More on that some other time!

Right now, I want to share some photographs of flowers from my balcony garden. It´s my mother´s area and I´m not sure of all the names, so I´ll get back on those in future posts.

Flowers from my balcony garden

Pigeons attack again

I got up from bed this morning and the first step I made on my balcony was a slippery one. There was bird(pigeon) poop all around! That´s gardening in the city!

Most of my plants are all right, but my whole balcony garden was a mess. It seems that pigeons will eventually get used to almost anything we do to try to keep them away and sometimes that can get really frustrating. However, maybe the problem lies somewhere else. You can see from my earlier post How to keep pigeons away the methods I use for this purpose. Yesterday I turned off the radio and maybe that´s one of the reasons why my defense failed. Just guessing!

It may seem that my Barbecue sticks method is a little bit crazy, but it is really a copy of a method that seems to work. Instead of bamboo sticks, metal spikes are used to prevent pigeons from accessing certain areas of the building. This kind of protection is not here to do any harm, but simply to prevent pigeons from accessing certain areas, i.e. your living space!

Please help my urban garden and share some ideas how to get rid off pigeons!!!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Right on time

It just started to rain and my plants(tomatoes especially) are loving it! Right on time!
Nevertheless, rain and wind can present a lot of problems when your plants are not supported enough. Right now, there´s not a thing in hand that I could use for this purpose. The only thing left for me to do is to strengthen the existing support.

This is a little photo session recorded from my balcony:


What´s pouring, take a look!


Under watering

Over watering is a common problem, especially with seedlings and small plants. Too much water drowns the roots, cutting off their supply of oxygen. In such condition, your plants will grow very slowly and if over watering continues more problems will appear.

Under watering, on the other hand, is less of a problem. However, it is a fairly common problem, especially with plants in containers in hot summer days. Small pots/containers dry out quickly and need daily watering, so bigger pots, means less watering. Not enough water dries out the root hairs, causing them to die. If this situation repeats itself over and over, it will probably stunt your plant and maybe cause slower growth.

Here´s an example of my under watered tomato plant

Thursday, June 14, 2007

What´s flowering?

It´s getting a little bit crowded, but I have just done some pruning and everything looks great. Pruning was necessary to increase the airflow and allow the light to penetrate lower branches and smaller plants. My tomatoes just keep getting bigger and bigger, so I´ll have to do some thinking before I decide what kind of support I´ll use. It is really starting to look like a jungle in here, a real urban jungle high up in the sky!!! Balcony garden creates a whole new dimension in your flat and a great aromatic extension of your living space. Right now, I can´t imagine cooking without my fresh homegrown herbs. I hope soon, I´ll be able to say the same for my veggies.

Take a quick look at my flowering tomato plant

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Balcony Basil

As I already said in my earlier post Herbs on a balcony, I am a passionate herb lover.
Basil is one of my favorite herbs and that´s why I grow two strains in my home garden. There is nothing like a smell of fresh basil early in the morning!!!

Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
There are several kinds of basil plants, with different leaf coloration and varying scents and flavors. Basil is usually associated with Italian cooking, although it originates from India.
You can sow the seeds directly in soil, just make sure there´s enough warmth and light. Basil is used for many purposes, but the most common one is culinary. It is best used fresh and/or added during the last minutes of cooking.

My Balcony Basil

Saturday, June 9, 2007

How to keep pigeons away

Pigeons are messing with your plants? What to do and how to keep pigeons off your plants and out of your garden?
Pigeons create great problems in urban gardens all around the world, as it was the case in my urban garden. The first thing in mind, after seeing the mess they made in your garden, is how to get rid of them and save what´s left of your plants. To me, that seemed almost impossible and my seedlings were ruined time after time. They were on a verge of destroying my whole balcony garden, but I decided to fight, even though I meant them no harm. I tried out a few methods and I must say I´m not 100% sure which one works the best, so I´ll keep posting my experiences.

How do I keep pigeons away from my balcony garden(a few methods currently used on my balcony):
  • CD method: It is a method commonly used in my city to keep pigeons of your balcony. Just tie down the cd and let it hang. The cds are shinny and reflective what seems to bother the pigeons. It is not the prettiest element in my garden, but it seems to work, at least when it´s sunny outside. The absence of light(sun) is a major limitation of this method. Barbecue sticks method:

  • Barbecue sticks method: This is a method I came up with to prevent pigeons from walking and pooping in my garden. Again it´s not the prettiest element in my garden, but it works day and night. Sticks are placed in soil, sharp side up.

  • Radio method: I have a radio on my balcony so I just keep it turned on and it seems to fool those garden invaders.
  • The combination of all three methods seems to do the job.

More photos from Dubrovnik

I could not resist to post a few more photos of how urban gardening can look like if you let your imagination and creativity loose.
Take a look at this little example of urban gardening in the streets of Dubrovnik(Croatia). It is a balcony/stairway with a unique garden design arranged with some toy dolls. I can only imagine the abundance of plant life and diversity of garden designs Dubrovnik has to offer.

Is it funny or is it spooky, judge for yourselves!

Unique garden design from Dubrovnik