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5 Sep 2016

Balcony Gardening With Toddlers

Fiona Rhodes
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!



Carrots

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!


Tomatoes
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.


Basil
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?



Fiona Rhodes / Author & Editor

A blog about running an allotment as a novice gardener in Zurich, Switzerland (with the help of my twin toddlers).

7 comments:

  1. Love the Lego man with mini-carrots! We've only grown flowers this year... our balcony is teeny though

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  2. Brilliant ideas here, and your photos are really lovely. I also have twins and we have all got so much pleasure over the years from growing things together. Current crop courgettes, cucumbers, the last few strawberries and a crop of green tomatoes which are about to turn red.

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  3. We love our tiny garden as well! And it's so fun for the girls to go and pick their own food and eat it straight from the garden. It's like a fun surprise each morning. We do strawberries and tomatoes. Maybe next spring we will try a few new ones.

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  4. Wonderful suggestions - this is such a great activity to do with toddlers. We too grew tomatoes and herbs with our tots on our balcony and it worked really well.

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  5. Nice! We have only done cherry tomatoes and that's where my ambition ends! ;)

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  6. Your garden looks so lovely! I tried this year as well, just tomatoes, salads, peppers and strawberries. I tragically failed as we travelled much and the solution I had just drawn all the plants!! Will try next year again.. wouldn't think of carrots though :)

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