Getting to Know You
I miss my old garden. We gardeners tend to be a nostalgic bunch: we can never forget the splendour of gardens past, even if the new one isn't so bad. It cannot be helped, once a garden is past, we remember only the good, and it always seems to be better...
Tomatoes were easier to grow in Montreal, and I had room for at least 20 different varieties. I am a tomato fiend, so even if a tomato-loving couple only requires two or three healthy plants to be satisfied, twenty did not seem excessive back then. In any case, if your seedlings are looking a little peeked like mine, one quick solution is to give them a drink of cold coffee or tea (with or without milk), no need to run to the shop for a liquid fertiliser.
I had two huge compost bins. They were large enough to produce compost for all my pots on the balcony, to top dress the garden, and there would be some left over to give to my mum. Of course, in order to supply those two composters, I needed to collect waste from work (loads of coffee grounds, shellfish scraps, and vegetable off-cuts) and friends. But I didn't mind. In fact, if my friends managed to drag me out to a bar after work, I would often bring along my compost pail! Not that I can really complain about the worm composter; it takes longer than I would like, but it copes with the waste we produce at home, which is the whole point of composting.
I shouldn't winge really... My sweetheart hasn't uttered a single complaint as I gradually took over every inch of the balcony with pots and planters. Last year we had enough strawberries to keep us happy. I had to fight off a wily squirrel for them, so this year I've caged in the planters with some chicken wire.
The tomatoes may be struggling, but basil, coriander, mint and chives are doing very well. In fact, all the herbs are thriving, and I even have parsley, fava (broad) beans and garlic growing in pots. So really, I have no reason to complain. My London garden is perfect just as it is.
I hope you will try your hand at planting something too, no matter how small your space.