The food-lover’s garden – A vegetable garden on your balcony (Part 2)

Kale. Crédit photo : Wikipédia
The food-lover’s garden – A vegetable garden on your balcony (Part 2)

This series kicked off with the spotlight on lettuce and leaf vegetables in Part 1. This instalment focuses on snow peas and two vegetables belonging to the cabbage family: collard greens and kale. Radishes are also welcome on the balcony.

Snow peas

Unlike beans, peas develop well in cool weather. You can plant them as soon as early May, in well-drained soil. Although the yield will not be as good as it would be if they were grown in the ground, you will still get plenty of crisp pods to savour—and you can add some of the sprouts to your salads.Snow peas should not lack water.Otherwise, the flower buds will likely drop off. Dwarf cultivars produce relatively quickly. Sow one seed every 5 cm. Use a few sticks or pieces of bamboo to create a teepee-like frame, as most cultivars tend to climb.

Collard greens and kale

Collard greens and kale (Red Russian, Redbor, Toscano, Starbor, etc.)—members of the cruciferous family of vegetables—don’t mind being in somewhat cramped quarters. Certain types of cabbage (Alcosa, Gonzales, Caraflex, Super Red 80, etc.) also produce good results.

They won’t get as big as they would in the ground, but you can still benefit from their nutritional properties. Furthermore, young collard and kale leaves are very nice in a salad.

It is possible to sow the seeds directly in the containers, but you will get better results if you keep them indoors for four to six weeks before transplanting outdoors. Plant the seedlings 15–20 cm apart in a pot that is at least 30 cm in diameter. Cruciferous plants require cool, damp soil.
It is therefore a good idea to top the soil with mulch. It is also important to ensure they are never short of water in the summer, since they are not drought-resistant. Cover your plants with some agrotextile if you have any problems with cabbage fly.


Radishes also belong to the cruciferous family. Radishes that are peppery, chapped, misshapen or pale are often the result of poor growing conditions. Too much fertilizer and heat, combined with long hours of sunlight, will encourage them to flower and give them a bitter taste. It is best to grow them in spring or fall, when the weather is cooler. In the case of common radishes, you can sow the seeds directly in the containers every two weeks or so from the spring thaw until the first frost. Place the seeds about one centimetre apart on top of damp soil, covering with a bit more soil (approx. 0.5 cm) and press down lightly to ensure good contact. Sprinkle with water and keep the soil damp until the plantlets emerge. Thin out the seedlings once they have developed two to four leaves, allowing 2.5–3 cm between the remaining plants. Generally, common radishes are harvested 25–35 days after planting. Radishes can also be affected by the cabbage fly. Remember,to stack the odds in your favour, you can refer to the handy tips in our Container gardening 101 anytime! Next week, we present Part 3 of the food-lover’s garden series, focusing on tomatoes.

Read part 3 >

Read part 4 >

Read part 1 >

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