Planning another growing season on the balcony

I am writing this while stormy winds are splashing rain all over our windows. Every single window. The last time we have seen sun here was three days ago and the grey, dull monotony that seems to be this year's January has us in it's grip. Also me.

I am grumpy, low on energy and just want to cuddle of in a blanket all day with a cup of tea. Time for a change. Time for something positive! Time to think about gardening.

Last year was my first attempt to grow flowers and vegetables on our balconies after a long absence from gardening whatsoever. To be fair, I did not have a real plan at hand. I was not sure what would grow and where since one balcony is facing directly south and the other directly north (with a bit of east).

So my attempt went with getting containers and some tomato plants from my parents, then buying stuff I considered "easy to grow" at the local gardening center and off I went. To my surprise, not all went wrong! We had delicious tomatoes all through summer. We also harvested basil, salad, peas, french beans and even carrots. The amounts were not sensational, but they proved the point that indeed we could grow things at home on our balcony.

More important, though, they reconnected me with my love for gardening. So when I emptied most containers last year to store them for winter, I knew that next year I wanted to try again. And become more ambitious. I wanted to grow most of my plants from seed!

In the name of research - I know, it is hard but someone had to do it - I watched endless episodes of gardening shows and found a very interesting program: the great British garden revival. Oh, so much inspiration. So many ideas. So little money and space on my side. Choices had to be made. If you have not watched it yet, you can find episodes here.

In essence, this year I am planning the following:
  • grow most plants from seed
  • grow veg but also flowers, ideally with room for cut flowers
  • introduce soft fruit to the scheme 
  • focus on varieties suitable for the specific conditions of the balconies (blazing hot or shady, containers)
With this in mind, here is what I have purchased to grow so far (all from "Vreeken's Zaden"):

 Lathyrus odoratus "Old fashioned mix": a mix of old varieties of sweat peas. I love the idea of giving old species a try and keep them alive, and this mix has a bit of all for a first try. They should also give me flowers for cutting.

Cherry tomato "Minibel: Does not grow taller than 40cm and therefore is ideal for balconies and pots.

Nemophila menziesii "Baby Blue eyes": What a name! This light blue beauty fits perfectly in the shady conditions of the north-facing balcony. And it only grows 15 cm tall, perfectly accompanying my ornamental grass and juniper container.

Courgette / Zucchini "Royal Flush F1": Compact growth and therefore perfect for the balcony gardener.

French beans "Speedy": compact growth, early harvest. Like.

Rocket and salad. I usually buy these from a local garden center.

Basil. I got seeds as a gift from a friend and will use the basil as a companion plant with the tomatoes.

Baby's breath. Another gift. Or maybe it was a sample. Not sure. I plan on using this as a filler for any remaining gaps.

I may also get some carrot seeds from my mum to use up. But we will see if they still fit into the scheme. Lots of stuff going on already.

Right, weather. Now I only have to wait until february to start the first seeds inside...