More and more people want to manage their own balcony garden sustainably. After all, organic gardening is good for the urban climate and biodiversity, saves us money and improves our ecological footprint. Here are some tips on organic balcony gardening.
Use planters made of natural materials
Plastic is undoubtedly a practical material, but you should still avoid it for reasons of nature conservation and waste prevention, because still only a relatively small proportion of plastic waste is recycled. For our grandparents, planters made of fired clay, galvanized steel or hardwood were still taken for granted. These alternatives still exist today, although they may be a bit more expensive, heavier, and more cumbersome than plastic pots. If you still want to use plastic pots, you should prefer products made from recycled materials.
Buy seeds and plants from organic cultivation
The typical organic gardener also avoids chemicals when growing plants. There is now a wide range of vegetable and fruit varieties that come from organic cultivation, not only seeds, but also young plants. If you are looking for something special for your balcony garden, you should look for old, seed-proof varieties. They can’t quite keep up with the modern varieties in terms of yield and also in terms of flowering, but they are often more robust than these and optimally adapted to the climate if they come from the region. It is also important to promote the diversity of varieties, because many old varieties are now threatened with extinction, especially in the case of vegetables. You can find them at plant markets, seed festivals, swap meets on the Internet and at specialized seed suppliers.
Buy high quality peat-free soil for your balcony garden
Spend a little more money on your potting soil and buy peat-free soil in organic quality. Lower-priced soil is often not structurally stable and sometimes even contaminated with undesirable foreign bodies such as glass, stones or plastic residues as well as heavy metals. For climate protection reasons, peat should be avoided as far as possible. The absence of peat must be declared on the packaging, but this is not yet a matter of course even with organic soils. For growing or cultivating herbs, a special, low-nutrient growing soil is recommended.
If you have used good potting soil in your balcony garden, you do not have to completely replace it in the planters every year at the beginning of the season. It is often enough to remove the top layer from the pots and add fresh soil. The old potting soil can still be used for frugal summer flowers, as long as it is not just dense root system. Simply mix it 1:1 with new substrate and spice it up with compost, worm humus, bokashi, horn shavings, horn meal, horn grit or soil activators.
Produce your own fertilizer
A practical natural cycle begins with placing a worm bin right in the kitchen or on the balcony. Leftovers from cleaning vegetables can be disposed of directly in it. Thousands of earthworms combined with millions of microorganisms turn this organic waste into valuable worm compost that you can use to fertilize year-round. In addition, worm bins are very easy to care for and can fit even in small spaces. Best of all, worm boxes don’t stink. Instead, they emit a very pleasant forest smell.
Flowering diversity in the balcony garden for insects
Don’t just plant geraniums and strawberries, make sure your balcony garden is planted with a variety of species. Mixed cultures have the advantage that your plants are more robust and less susceptible to diseases and pests.
If you want to provide a food source for insects, create a blooming wildflower box. Of course, cultivated varieties can be just as attractive foraging plants as wild species, but it’s important to have single, unfilled, flowers so that insects can easily reach the nectar and the plants can also provide them with pollen. Also ensure that your balcony garden has something blooming throughout the season. For example, plant bulbs in the fall so that insects such as wild bees can find food in early spring.
This is how the balcony garden will be even more animal friendly
In the fall, do not cut the plants, as they form winter quarters for insects. On such “messy”, not over-maintained balconies, birds will be happy to stop by and pick out seeds. Have faith that if there is an infestation of aphids, after some time the so-called beneficial insects such as ladybugs and lacewings will appear and decimate the aphid colonies.
With an insect hotel on the balcony, you can ensure that the beneficial insects find a suitable winter home and are also right there in the spring. It is only important that you hang it in a sunny, rain-protected place.
Also provide suitable food and a water bowl for birds, even outside the winter months. And stick so-called Bird Tape on your window panes so that the reflective glass surfaces do not become a deadly danger for the birds. These are taped strips that make the panes visible to feathered friends. They should be no more than ten centimeters (4 in) apart.