I grew up having fruit trees in the backyard. Each summer my mother baked apple pies and made applesauce. I would climb our plum tree to pick a snack. Today, many of us live in apartments or condominiums and the thought of growing our own food seems like a fond memory. So I was delighted to have a conversation with Radina Jevdvic, gardening guru and Roundhouse instructor, who challenged this assumption. “My mission is to get people to grow food on their balconies” she says. The trick is knowing how the gardening conditions of balconies differ from yard gardens, making appropriate container decisions, and choosing the right plants suited to either sunny or shady areas.
Radina suggests growing fruits and vegetables that are normally expensive to buy when sold commercially. A few leaves of organic kale can be pricey when purchased at the grocery store, but can be grown on the balcony year round. In fact, she tells me a little snow or cold weather will actually turn the leaves sweeter. Blueberries, goji berries, raspberries, and kiwifruit will all grow well on balconies; as will lettuce, beets, carrots, beans, potatoes, turnips, and radishes.
Even fruit trees can be grown on a balcony; dwarf versions of apple, pear, cherry, and fig trees are ideal. These specialized varieties are smaller trees, but produce fruit that is of the same size and taste as their larger cousins. Around the base of these trees, flowers and herbs can be planted to optimize space. As a garden designer, Radina takes care to combine vegetables and flowers to have maximum visual impact.
Many of us drink green tea, but would never have thought that this could also be grown on the balcony. Camellia Sinensis is the name of the tea plant and Radina discusses how to harvest and dry these leaves in her classes. “Herbs for Healthy Living” is the next workshop in her gardening series. Join her June 5 and learn how to propagate the most expensive spice known, saffron!
By Karen Clare, Roundhouse Blog Team. Karen has a background in psychology and human resources. She enjoys engaging with the community and is an active volunteer with the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, Vancouver Fringe Festival, PuSh International Performing Arts Festival, and the Burnaby Blues & Roots Festival.