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30 Sept 2016

Allotment Update: September 2016

The pumpkin patch has taken over! It's my first time growing these so hadn't realised how much space they take up. Celery and beetroot are being swamped under these beasts. Slight panic about how big they are going to get, yet very proud!! comment!

One of six of these on the same plant. Think it is a muscat pumpkin that stays green

I have loved being able to pick multiple bunches of flowers each time we visit the garden.

These Tromba d'Albegna are prolific and grow HUGE.

Loads of carrots, wish I had planted more!

This is the best time of the year for me! Not too hot, so green and loads to keep the children interested.

Stolen apples!

Cucamelons! Millions of them.
Happy gardener.

5 Sept 2016

Balcony Gardening With Toddlers

Only the lucky few have the pleasure of a garden in Zurich city but thankfully many apartments here have balconies and it doesn't take much effort to grow a few vegetables to get your children interested in growing their own food. Here are a few of my recommendations to get you started!


Seeing my children eat carrots straight from the ground has been one of the most satisfying things in life! Carrots like full sun and plenty of water. I have only tried chantenay carrots and the short, stubby length is perfect for growing in a container. These 'Parisier Market' carrots from Franchi seeds also look good for container gardening. My boys have enjoyed eating the carrot thinnings every couple of days in summer. If you have space, plant a second row a few weeks after the first so that you can eat them in succession. Not only great to eat, the thinnings also make great accessories for Duplo figures!

Easy to grow, low maintenance and fascinating to watch grow from seed to full grown plant. Cherry tomatoes work well. They need lots of sun. My toddlers love watching them ripen and turn red. They are allowed to pick them off individually and every day lately have been asking 'Ready? Ready?'. We started them off in eggshells and then moved them to a bigger pot when the seedlings were established.

A good friend of the tomato, if you have a pot large enough you could even plant it in the same container. Basil takes a while to germinate and needs lots of sun but  is a good one to start off inside on a sunny windowsill before putting on your balcony. Just keep removing the white flowers that appear and it will last beyond the end of summer. The photo below is Greek basil. It has quite a strong flavour and is very delicious! Surprisingly, my twins love eating this straight from the pot. They also love pesto which is amazing to make from homegrown basil!

Salad Leaves
Ok, I don't know a two year old that likes lettuce but mine definitely enjoy yanking leaves from the plant! Lettuce is very easy and quick to germinate. There are many different types you can grow. The leaves can be picked as 'cut and come again' and they last for ages.This year I enjoyed Romaine lettuce which is really crisp and slow to bolt. Spinach is also a favourite. 

So these are a few easy vegetables and herbs to start with. What have you been growing on your balcony this year? Any suggestions for next year?

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