Greetings From the Netherlands!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Jillian H., Mar 18, 2019.

  1. Jillian H.

    Jillian H. Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hello everyone! I'm Jill and I happen to be an American living in the Netherlands. I've been here a little over a year so far and I've been enjoying the very, small village life. I've been trying to plan how to get some veg or herbs to grow on our tiny balcony or indoors, so here's hoping to finding some awesome ideas here :)
     
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  2. AndrewB

    AndrewB Well-Known Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Welcome Jill. You can grow a lot in a few pots on the balcony. Things like spring onions/shallots are very productive in pots.
    I've found a really nice basil for small areas too, the variety is Greek columnar, it grows up rather than spreading out & doesn't bolt to flower like the other varieties I grow.

    For growing in pots, I suggest using a lot of compost, as the roots have a limited area to get nutrients from. When I first started I was using a soil/compost/perlite mix, but have gone to straight compost now, as things seem to grow better for longer & the soil holds moisture much better & looks a lot healthier.
     
  3. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Welcome Jill.
    Yes container growing is worldwide now!
    Styro boxes make excellent planters being light enough to carry on your bike, large root area, stack well so you can pile a few upside down so your planter is raised, can be painted on the outside to be artistic, hold moisture better than terracotta pots, easy to break up for recycling when finished with them.

    I watch Life TV channel and see people house hunting from all over the world. I love seeing the European towns with their verdant gardens. I get very jealous!!:p
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    G'day Jill and thanks for joining SSC!

    Sunlight is the key to growing on a balcony - if you get a reasonable amount of light you should be able to grow well :)
     
  5. Jillian H.

    Jillian H. Member Premium Member GOLD

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    I'll have to take a look at how people use those thanks! And yes even with very small areas, so many people have gorgeous gardens, definitely inspiring!
     
  6. Jillian H.

    Jillian H. Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Thank you for the welcome! And sunlight is zero problem luckily, in fact, at first I was quite worried with how much. Our balcony faces the sun the entire day with no blockage whatsoever, so maybe dry soil might be something to look out for. I did have the idea of maybe a bit of mulch for the pots just in case. That and making sure to keep an eye out on some crazy wind as well
     
  7. Jillian H.

    Jillian H. Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Mmm spring onions would certainly be a welcome plant in my garden! And I'll have to do some looking for good seed places in the area or online, we do have a very large garden center where I've gotten some basics, but seed variety, at least for the edible plants is, quite limited, I'm sure online will have a plethora of stuff. Compost will definitely be on the next to buy list, since I only grabbed some potting soil so far, though if I remember correctly it does contain some slow release fertilizer, not sure if that's even comparable to actual compost though, I'm still not much past throwing something into the ground or pot and hoping for some plants :p
     
  8. ClissAT

    ClissAT Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Hi Jillian, if you can buy a product called compressed coconut fibre otherwise known as Coir peat it is very beneficial to potting mix.
    It comes as a very hard house brick sized red block that you put in a big bucket or(if you buy the even bigger size, soak in a wheel barrow) and cover with water so it expands enormously. Once moistened it can be kept in the bucket with lid on for months and always at hand when required.
    I use it 50/50 with good quality potting mix to make a very light weight, moisture holding peatish mix that plants love.
    I've also found it doesn't break down and reduce in volume near as quickly as standard potting mix.
    For plants that need a drier growing medium, I add a handful of perlite.

    If you want to grow spring onions or as we call them, shallots, just go to the market and buy a bunch. Cut the bottom 3-4cm off and plant 2cm deep. In no time you will have onion tops and then within a month you will have a new shallot to cut, always leaving the root with a little white part remaining in the soil to regrow.

    Actually you can do that with all onions, but with some varieties you won't get a big bulbuos onion. Instead you get a smaller onion because you have to always leave a piece behind in the soil to regrow.
    I always leave some to go to seed to add the seeds to my salad mix sprouts. If you leave some shallots growing to get really big you get something akin to a leak. I cut these leaving a bit in the soil, and stand in a vase with a tiny bit of water on the kitchen bench so it is always handy for slicing a few rings for my salad or even cooked dish. I do have to trim away the end standing in water which is why I stand in the smallest bit of water so as not to waste too much stem. So I get the green tops which I slice very thinly with scissors just cutting off the amount required, and the white bottom which is a different flavour.

    And if you want the flavour of fresh garlic, just plant a few bulbs next time you buy a whole knob. They soon sprout, providing green tops that taste like garlic and can be used inplace of garlic chives. Leave the bulb in the soil to resprout. But unlike the shallot that will go on forever, the garlic bulb will only last about 3 mths before it collapses. But just plant a new one. Too easy!

    Similarly if you like the flavour of mixed leafy greens containing carrot tops, beetroot, parsnip or celery leaves, or many types or herbs, then next time you are cutting up those veg or the herbs, just leave a bit more on the stem end and stand in the tiniest bit of water to resprout on the kitchen window sill so they get good light to resprout but no direct sun. Once they set some roots, plant into a cool shady place and have fresh greens onhand always! Growing these veg this way, they do well in hydroponics because the medium is never continuously wet and they don't need roots to get plant food and will grow a good amount of leaf top.
    Many herbs will grow in water or hydroponics solution from cutting, except parsley unfortunately which requires the setting of a new seedling.

    So if you are having trouble getting seed, this is a way that you get the flavours quickly (if not the whole vegetable). Potatoes will grow in any old container even without drainage holes, just give only the smallest amount of watering weekly. Or set the chitted spuds onto a moist sand layer and cover with dry potting soil or expanded coir or even just mulch. No need to water for ages because there will be enough moisture in the sand for good root development. Once growing, add fertilizer then. Its best not to apply fertilizer to the freshly sprouting spuds or they might rot.

    Somewhere here I did a thread where I showed my crop of potatoes growing in a colourful 22lt plastic tub with just wet sand in the bottom and covered the spuds with old potting mix and mulch. I didn't water for ages. I got a reasonable crop from that handful of smallish chitted spuds.

    Also regarding making compost at home, I explain a good easy technique in the thread about the A&B type avocado plants. You can do it on your balcony without making a mess or it taking too much room and fits well with using a bokashi if you do that method on your kitchen bench. You just empty the bokashi into the compost box as needed.

    Just thinking about making compost at home in town, if you go to a fresh market, ask the seller if you can have a bag of green tops or other material they've trimmed off what they are selling. You will generally get it for free and will certainly speed up production and volume of your own compost. You can ask the gardeners who tend the gardens around your building for some fine pruning material or grass clippings from the mower. All you need to buy then is the hay type mulch for the brown components.
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2019
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  9. Jillian H.

    Jillian H. Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Wow thanks for that wealth of information! A lot of good stuff I'll take note of! Especially good to know about the coconut coir, I've bought it a long time ago and remember it being pretty cheap and knowing when not soaked, they wouldn't take up so much space. It also makes me feel good to know that you could do composting in a small space, I mostly just worry about having smell if I don't do it quite right, and attracting more bugs, since the balcony is under all our windows (which when opened don't have any screens on them)
     
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  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah, really good stuff that... such a wonderful fibre and great for all types of uses in the garden.
     
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