Tips for planting an urban garden
Even though space may be limited on your balcony or terrace, you can easily create a wonderful green environment – as long as you have a creative mind. Planters, flowerpots and window boxes – they all work beautifully, if you ask the sisters. It is important however, that you choose plants that thrive in small spaces, and Anna and Clara have therefore put together a list of plants which work well in pots and window boxes.
Rosemary, which is extremely delicious in seafood dishes and home-made bread, is one of Anna’s favourite plants. The herb, which is actually a bush, is extremely flavourful, beautiful and evergreen in most climates. Whether you sow your own seeds or buy ready-to-plant bushes, rosemary thrives in containers. Rosemary is sensitive to cold and should be brought indoors in the winter. Water your rosemary sparingly, as the soil should be a little dry.
Mint is a perennial, and if you let it, it will come back next year, and the year after that. The plant thrives in containers, although it should be repotted and rejuvenated every so often as it spreads vigorously and needs space. Water well. Mint prefers moist soil and semi-shade conditions. Clara recommends that you add fresh mint leaves and a couple of slices of lemon to ice-cold drinking water on hot summer days.
Lavender, like rosemary, is an evergreen bush which will live for years if protected against the cold. Transplant your lavender into a well-drained container as it thrives in dry and poor soil, and then position it in a sunny corner of your outdoor living space. Lavender is extremely decorative, and the leaves can be dried and used for cooking, in teas and as fragranced potpourri around the house.
Basil is an ideal herb for planting in pots, as it is very sensitive to the cold and must be brought inside when the frost comes.
Anna recommends placing the plant in a sunny and sheltered position as it needs warmth, and giving it plenty of water. Basil plants should be cut down when they show signs of flowering as the yield is otherwise affected. “Basil is a tricky plant to keep happy so do not lose courage if your first attempt does not go well,” as Anna says.
Chives are onion family and will grow back year after year. The plant is frost-proof, but prefers sunny and partially shady positions. It loves lots of water. Chives can be grown from seed from March-April, but for quick results, buy a tray of seedlings and plant them out in late April. In the summer, Anna and Clara like to serve homemade omelette with finely chopped chives and tomato.
Strawberries grow well in most pots and window boxes, making them an obvious choice for your urban garden on the balcony. The sisters recommend buying proper plants and planting them in plenty of sunlight. Please note that your strawberry plants are unlikely to produce any fruit in the first year, but how wonderful to have something to look forward to, says Clara. Strawberries can be eaten as a snack or used in salads.
Cos lettuce is an obvious choice for window boxes if you are keen to be a little self-sufficient. These lettuce plants can be grown close together as they do not need nearly as much space as other types of lettuce, like head lettuces. Pick a few leaves as needed, and new leaves will grow out. You can grow cos lettuce from seed or buy seedlings. If you want to pre-germinate seeds, you can do so from March, and plant out the seedlings once they are 4 cm high.
Dahlias are not edible, but very decorative. If you would like to grow your own dahlias from seed, pre-germinating them will take about 10-18 days. March-April is the ideal time. Dahlias like plenty of sun and sufficient water. They are beautiful, colourful plants which grow to a height of about 40 cm. In the autumn, after the first touch of frost, dig out the clumps of tubers which you will find in the pots and store them in a frost-free place over the winter. The tubers can then be planted out again in spring.
Anna and Clara wish you the best of luck with creating your own urban garden.
Here you can download Anna and Clara’s planting cycle.
Please note that the recommendations in this planting cycle are based on the northern European climate which Anna and Clara are used to in Denmark.