One man & his organic plot - June 2019

  • Last updated: 6 December 2022
For Chris, June has been consumed, mainly by two things. The first has been setting up the balcony garden and of course, the second has been the weather!
Chris Collins in his winter garden

I will concentrate the opening of this blog on one of my favourite places in the world, my humble balcony. Late May is what I call the change-over time, when the spring display of bulbs finally fizzles out and it’s time to plant up the space with my summer displays. The Balcony sits on the 3rd floor and is in the crown of surrounding trees and adjoins London’s new river that dates back to the 16th century. Alexandra Palace Park is visible on the hill so the whole area is incredibly green.

The Balcony acts as a corridor to the surrounding flora and has the added bonus of having excellent wildlife. I’ve had Woodpeckers this year and there are plenty of bats at dusk. I also have a large flock of house martins, which swoop and feed on the wing as the day comes to an end. The whole place is a real treat and it’s hard to believe I’m only a kilometre or so from the busy London North Circular.

This year my containers and baskets have once again been planted up with colourful bedding plants combined with heritage crops and herbs. I have heritage tomatoes, chillies and peppers, along with lettuce and salad leaves. I’ve also turned my hand to micro-greens which are surprisingly delicious.

It is important however to ask how this set up can be organic, as it’s a fairly unnatural place to have a garden I must look to as many measures as I can to aspire to my organic principles. Firstly my containers are mainly recycled and rescued from the many garden builds I’ve done over the years.

The soil is all organic and although it's not the cheapest it is the least sacrifice I can make. Most of the plants are produced from seed and raised in situ. As with all container growing, fertilisers are essential and organic seaweed and comfrey pellets are my preferred choice, in fact I get fantastic results with these two feeds, starting with seaweed extract in the spring/early summer months and then switching to Bocking 14 mid-summer. I have tried to get a wormery going but the balcony is south facing and gets extremely hot which doesn’t bode well for the worms. I’ll keep working on it and in the meantime I’ll be carting my green waste down to the allotment. I also have permanent perennial planting on the balcony too, these include a collection of roses that have been beautiful this year especially at sunset – a very special place.

Meanwhile life on the allotment has been a tad tough mainly because it’s been so dry. I was planning to chat about this, but the heavens have opened the last few days and everything is thoroughly soaked. I’m hoping this much needed moisture will kick on growth which has been sluggish so far. I’ve even seen the emergence of some french beans that I planted about five weeks ago. This shows how clever and patient a seed is, waiting for the optimum moment to turn into a plant. As always, I’m battling the weeds and envying the old retired boys on their allotments who can while away their days growing plants, one thing that running a business does not allow. It is however important not to put pressure on yourself, no matter what stage your game is at gardening and allotments are there to be enjoyed.

In other news, as I said in my last blog it's the show season and Chelsea was as busy as ever. This year I worked on the National Children’s Gardening Week stand, helping out during the show. It is, as always breath taking but the show is ridiculously busy, it reminds me how much I love the peace of a garden. I am however very much looking forward to the Tatton Flower Show this year, working alongside the Garden Organic gardening team with their Edible Allotment of Heritage Seed Library varieties. I’ll also be doing some talks and helping the RHS out with some seed sowing with children. I also continue my work with Sarah Brown and the Garden Organic podcast, which is doing extremely well, and I hope you've given it a listen.

Until the next time, happy gardening people!