Ever since I became a mother, I’ve been reading a lot about the food products that I was supposed to feed to my son. In order for me to feel safe about the sorts of foods he was about to eat, I decided to plant vegetables and strawberries at my own balcony. I do this for many years now and it is quite satisfactory as well as an anti-stress therapy. My veggies smell nice and give pleasure to the eye. They are also so delicious and sufficient for us adults as well.
My balcony offered a sad and dim view to look at. I was left with a vase of fresh onions, spicy pepper and a winter flower that comes to life once in February. The hot days of end-February made spring feel much closer, so I decided to give my balcony more life. I went to the New Bazaar of Tirana. There is an old guy there selling seeds on a small grey carriage. I always buy my seeds from him. I got parsley and dill seeds for 100 Albanian Lek.
Then I went further into the Bazaar. On the left side of the Bazaar, there are merchants who sell young plants. I got some lettuce, since I had run out of my previous supply. I also got tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers for 25-30 Lek per plant. He could not offer me young plants for zucchini and eggplants because they are less resistant to colder days which are still ahead of us. The first thing I did when I went back home was pure fun. I got my vases and cleaned the soil. If you happened to own a wood stove or a fireplace, then do not waste the wood ashes because you can mix it with the potting soil and reduce its acidity. That’s what I did.
After I cleansed my potting soil, I mixed it up with wood ashes. Then I also added a new ash that I buy at the supermarket (20 dm3 for 500 ALL) and the home to my veggies was complete. I cut off the styrofoam cups that hold the plants and I put them in their vase at a distance of 10-15 centimeters from each other. My balcony is only four square meters big so you might be wondering how did I plant all of this stuff? Let me show you. I used the big vases for tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers. The smaller vases (which can easily be replaced to the yoghurt cups) were used for lettuces whereas parsley and dill seeds were planted in two large coffee mugs. I love those mugs when parsley and dill flourish because my kitchen becomes prettier. Take a look at the pictures showing how my balcony was revitalized.
Now I have to be careful and protect my plants from strong winds. I live at the fifth floor and have to bear the impact of high winds. I bought some bamboo sticks and if high winds endanger my crops, I place bamboo sticks for support. Here is another tip for your balcony garden during March. If colder days knock hard, then use plastic bags to protect your vases, using two wooden sticks.
If this seems too much, then take a plastic bottle, cut its bottom off and insert the plants in. Do not forget to take the lid off because plants need air. This entire job took several hours of course. My son was also there to help. I feel good that he likes to take care of our garden. Now I can enjoy my morning coffee in my beautiful balcony garden. There so much life in this place. Let’s talk again in April about changes you made to transform your balcony into a magnificent garden.
*Rezarta Delisula is Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Gazeta Shqiptare working as a journalist since 1998. With 17 years of professional experience, her stories mainly focus on social concerns and environmental issues. Rezarta is also an organic products avid and gardening passionate, largely interested in green lifestyle. She is a contributing writer at agroweb.org.