A question that has been troubling many of us lately is how to make best use of the abundant free time that has been forced upon us. People living in houses spend a lot of time tending to their yards and gardens, and there are many benefits to it – they spend time outdoors, bask in the sun, get to distract themselves from current problems and everyday worries, and, in return, get their own place of enjoyment and healthy and delicious fruits of their labour.

Author: Danijela Despotovic

On the other hand, a lot of you live in apartment buildings and therefore feel deprived of a hobby as beautiful as gardening. The good news is that you can create a garden on your own terrace, tend to it with just as much dedication and enjoy the sun and fresh air. Just imagine having coffee on your balcony surrounded by flowers, basil, oregano, salad rocket or cherry tomatoes.

The concept of balcony gardens has taken off in urban areas, and is making its way over here as a trend spurred by the need for fresh and healthy vegetables and spices, but also as a useful and relaxing hobby. The biggest advantage of growing vegetables on your terrace or balcony is that the garden is within your reach and it is easy enough to set aside at least half an hour a day to tend to plants.

The good news is that the balcony does not need to be spacious, just a few square meters of properly arranged pots will give you enough vegetables and spices to last the whole summer, but few preconditions have to be met.

The basic prerequisite is the position of the balcony i.e. how much sunlight it gets. Not all plants require the same amount of light – fruiting vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers require more sunlight than leafy vegetables, lettuce and some herbs. So, if your terrace is facing south or west, grow more light-loving vegetables, whereas those of you whose balconies don’t have enough light should opt for plants that do well in shade.

Also, it is important that the terrace is shielded from the wind, as the wind dries up the soil and may cause mechanical damage. If the terrace does not have a windbreak, you are to keep the pots with vegetables on the inside of the balcony to protect them. Another very important factor is the time and attention you give to your garden. For starters, it is better off to start with fewer plants that you can tend to daily.

An ideal balcony garden has some vegetables, spices, herbs and an occasional pot of flowers, as they benefit vegetables and boost pollination.

Vegetables that can be grown on balconies are spinach, chard, lettuce, rocket, cherry tomatoes, chilly peppers, peppers and cucumbers. You are aware that you cannot grow large quantities of vegetables on a terrace, so it is important that the fruits you do get in the end are healthy and delicious. That is why organic gardening is the way to go.

It is worth mentioning that, apart from being super fun, using organic seeds and organic soil directly affects the quality of your diet and the taste of self-produced food puts supermarket vegetables to shame.

In cooperation with the Delegation of the European Union to Montenegro, La Organica shot a series of short instructional videos on how to grow a small garden on your balcony in an easy-to-do and fun way, which you can find here. The best thing all of us can do now is stay home and enjoy this useful hobby.