Suggestions please for good food plants for kids to grow on our balcony.
March 27, 2011 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Apart from tomatoes, strawberries and beans, what can we grow on our sunny central European balcony?

I’m trying to get my kids interested in plants by showing them how food grows. Unfortunately our balcony is quite small at about four square metres. We’ve had good results with beans, strawberries, herbs, bell peppers and tomatoes in the past, but want to try other plants. What else can we plant that has a good yield, shows significant changes over the plant’s lifecycle (to keep the kids interested) and doesn’t take up much space?

The climate is Mediterranean (I'm in the south of Austria), watering every day is no problem. The balcony faces southwest and has little or no shade. The plants will be exposed to sunlight all day, although setting up a shade shouldn't pose too much trouble if necessary. I am prepared to buy the appropriate containers and soil if the plant you suggest has specific requirements.

Thanks for your help!
posted by MighstAllCruckingFighty to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Basil! Thyme, oregano, sage - all kinds of herbs grow well in conditions like that, and there are many varieties of them, so you can observe the differences as they grow and the flavors at harvest.
posted by rtha at 10:15 AM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Garlic? Onions?
posted by Bruce H. at 10:17 AM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: Lettuce.
posted by 6:1 at 10:25 AM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: Eggplant. There are some varieties that make small fruits, like Rosa Bianca, or have stripes, like Pandora. Should like your conditions if you are doing well with tomatoes and peppers.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:28 AM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: Potatoes and carrots.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:29 AM on March 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Oh, and tomatillos or ground cherries might work, too. Cool papery husks, also in the nightshade family like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:30 AM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: Cucumbers can be grown in a large tub and trained up a trellis. Watching them send out little curly tendrils to grab onto stuff is kinda cool (and inspires kids to all kinds of horror-movie flights of fancy).
posted by Quietgal at 10:58 AM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: Malabar spinach should do well in those conditions. Beautiful vine that grows up a trellis very fast and will produce more salad greens than you can eat.
posted by sublivious at 11:07 AM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: Herbs, definitely. Basil and chives do well in pots and grow quickly, so your kids will easily be able to see the life cycle. Chives are also perennials - we've had the same pot for about four years. They die when it gets cold and then when spring rolls around they pop back out of the soil again.
posted by something something at 11:23 AM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: You can grow practically any vegetable.
Check out this book, it's in French, but it has lovely pictures of vegetables grown in small space.
Un Potager sur mon Balcon
posted by leigh1 at 12:36 PM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: A small bush of Cayenne peppers is really pretty and survives well in a pot, but you do have to advise the kids not to play with the pretty red fruits as they're filled with hurt. Washed, frozen, and then a single one chucked into a stew makes for awesome, though.
posted by scruss at 1:03 PM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: Sugar snap peas, as long as your container is deep enough and you have something for them to grow up on. Oh, and pea plants are seriously cute.

The shorter varieties of carrots are really awesome, too, and will teach your kids that the "perfect" carrots from the store are crazy and weird.
posted by anaelith at 2:10 PM on March 27, 2011

Best answer: Radishes come up very fast. Look for mild ones though. They can get pretty hot, especially for kids. Lots of different varieties too.
posted by Taurid at 10:48 PM on March 27, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks a lot everyone - some great ideas here! :o)
posted by MighstAllCruckingFighty at 6:38 AM on March 28, 2011

probably okra, if it gets hot enough (might be harder to sell the kids on, though)
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 1:29 PM on March 28, 2011

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