If you’ve got a balcony, patio or small garden, you’ll want to be planting now in October, to enjoy a riot of colour and food to taste in springtime.
Many varieties of flower, fruit and vegetable can be grown in pots, planters, hanging baskets and raised beds. You don’t have to be limited in creativity or crops by a smaller size outdoor space.
Of course, many people in their later years only want a small planting space to call their own, to cut down on maintenance.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have plenty more greenery to explore on your doorstep - homeowners at Scalesceugh Hall & Villas can leisurely walk round more than three acres of professionally-tended gardens, as well as a nature reserve.
What do I need to know before planting?
First consider what containers you need to use. Terracotta pots are attractive and popular, but can be quite heavy, especially when filled with compost, so maybe don’t use these on a balcony, but instead keep them for patios and small gardens.
Choose a lighter plastic or resin container if weight is going to be an issue - and always try to source eco-friendly pots if you can.
Some composts are also formulated to be extremely lightweight.
You will also need to consider how exposed your plot is, especially through the winter. Perhaps you’ll need to use some screening, to protect plants and containers from the wind, or choose hardier plant species.
By the same token, the amount of exposure to the sun is crucial in deciding which plants to opt for. Some plants thrive better in shade, many love the sun
What can I plant in pots on my balcony or patio?
You can’t go wrong with daffodils, tulips, crocuses and hyacinths. In fact, you can’t really say spring is here without seeing daffodils can you?
Bulbs are inexpensive and don’t require much room for roots, so the general rule is to plant them three times their own depth.
Some Narcissus daffodils come up quick and early and often bloom in winter.
If you’re looking for extra winter colour, remember to plant snowdrops in late spring, and plan in some winter-flowering pansies and heather.
Apart from the wonderful aromas of herbs, get used to using them in your cooking, if you don’t already - fresh always beats those from a jar for taste.
Herbs mostly remain small is size, so won’t use up too much room. Favourites for balconies, patios and small gardens include mint, chives, lemon, parsley, thyme, lemon thyme, sage and rosemary.
Be ready to bring your herbs indoors for winter. Basil, coriander, mint, dill and parsley will not survive a hard frost.
Get down to your local garden centre and check out the annuals, in particular, working out which varieties and colours will work better with each other.
The labels will tell you which plants like the sun, like pelargoniums, and which prefer the shade, like begonias.
Fruit and Vegetables
Tomatoes need a lot of care but they are also very versatile, and can be grown in everything from a trough to a hanging basket.
Other foods that grow well in confined spaces include strawberries, spring onions, lettuce and runner beans.