There are heaps of great vegetables that grow really well in pots and winter can be a great time to embark on a small scale balcony veggie garden.
We like our balcony gardens to look modern, contemporary and generally pretty stylish at The Urban Balcony, a look that doesn't typically correspond with a thriving, wild and wooly veggie patch. However we have a few suggestions on how you can add some useful vegetables without compromising on style.
You are looking for plants that have a compact grown habbit and are low maintenance. My favourite vegetables for the modern balcony garden include:
Spinach - Easy to grow, green and leafy and produces an ongoing crop that you can pick as required. Group plants together in a pot for a lush, green leafy look. Great in salads, added to pasta, mixed through cous cous, wilted with poached eggs...the list goes on.
Rainbow Swiss Chard - Another leafy option with leaves in green, yellow and red tones. As with the spinach plant a few plants per pot for a leafy look and use regularly to encourage continuous growth.
Rocket - Rocket can get a bit wild and wooly but the odd bit of untamed greenery doesn't do too much harm. Only plant one plant per pot as it does get quite bushy. Rocket is a great all round salad green and makes an excellent pesto mixed with walnuts and parmesan.
Beetroot - A root vegetable that also produces an abundance of green/red leaves above the surface. Grow two or three plants per pot. Excellent grated and eaten raw in salads. I have also used the leaves to make a soup - probably wouldn't do that again but it was edible.
Celery - An excellent vegetable for winter stews and soups, particularly when you only need a stalk or two. I've had success growing celery in pots, either one plant per pot or a few bunched together. It looks unusual in a pot, but it's bright green stalks and leaves contrast against the darker leaves of spinach or beetroot adding interest.
Now for pot suggestions. Generally you can grow veggies in anything from a tin can to a pair of gumboots if you fancy it. However if you are after the modern contemporary look then my favourite is the in the smallest size. My suggestions above for the number of plants per pot are based on a pot of similar size to the small Balconylite Egg. If you are after something a bit more rustic but still with a contemporary edge then the Atlantis Egg Pot is a great choice. But you can use anything that fits with your style. Consider filling up a Trough with spinach or a Tall Square with Rainbow Chard.
You will need to replace the plants periodically but you don't need to replace the soil. Just mix in a bit of fresh compost and plant your next crop. Winter is often a more forgiving time for vegetables growing in containers as the sun isn't as extreme and you get a bit more rainfall to help you out.