The warm season has finally begun: the chestnuts are blooming, allergy sufferers are sniffling, everyone is eating asparagus, and the first influencers are showing off their vegetables on Instagram. I see photos of small strawberries and tender spinach leaves in the flower box, others proudly hold the radishes in front of the camera. I am overwhelmed by the botany FOMO: they are already harvesting, and the tougher representatives of the heather of the winter crew are still waiting in my flower boxes! But don't panic: I once heard that tomatoes are only put on the balcony after the Ice Saints, and that was only last week. Despite my ignorance of vegetable breeding, I also dream of my own cherry tomatoes, lettuce, eggplant, zucchini.

Johanna Kuroczik

Editor in the "Science" section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

  • Follow I follow

For a long time, vegetable gardens have been a passion of pensioners who have experienced the pain of being dependent on their own potatoes for survival and therefore torture their relatives every year with kilos of silted kale. But local vegetable cultivation is healthy and sustainable and therefore hip in a generation that prefers to spend their holidays on the Mittelland Canal rather than in the Maldives. Unfortunately, when I tried last year, I only harvested a single, rotten tomato. Now I want to be prepared: How does it work, vegetables from the balcony?

How much space does the lettuce need?

Logically, the choice of the plant is decisive. The information situation is contradictory: some gardeners claim that cucumbers grow finely in a small flower box, others think that cucumbers take root too far. Tomatoes, on the other hand, as Wolfgang Nixdorf of the Rhineland-Palatinate Garden Academy states, grow even better on the balcony than in the garden, as they like a sheltered location. However, they are something for "advanced": they hate waterlogging, require suitable fertilizers and a talented leaf hairdresser.

Other southerners also feel comfortable on the balcony: peppers, zucchini, eggplant. Because the soil gets warmer in the tubs on the balcony than in the garden. For rather long than deep flower boxes that are not in the blazing sun, lettuce should be a good "beginner's vegetable", as I read in gardening blogs, since you can harvest after only four to six weeks and thus have an early "sense of achievement", radishes are just as easy to care for. Unless you plant them too close together, this is a common mistake. Intuitively, I did everything right when I spontaneously bought a few tiny lettuce plants in the supermarket last week. I can proudly report: Since then, they have grown at least a little larger in the flower box and have not died yellowish like the box buddy, the parsley.

If you need help planning your vegetable garden, you can try the Fryd app. I learn that for the rough conditions of my balcony boxes (sunny and humid, as water is constantly dripping down from the neighbors' flower boxes), eggplant, fennel and, confusingly, passion fruit would be suitable. For professional accompaniment and tips, you can create a digital version of your beds in the app, which seems exaggerated to me for the balcony box. If you need more space, you can rent a piece of vegetable garden, in a less obligatory way than with an allotment garden association, in that if you actually get a place despite mafia-like admission criteria, you are practically tied up for your life. Rental vegetable gardens can be found, for example, at "My Harvest". Unfortunately, I can't give you a review – I'm afraid I'm fully occupied with my lettuce, aubergines and tomatoes as a beginner.