Balcony Gardening Explained and Extolled

rooftop gardening photo
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For readers with a balcony, the year of aerial edible gardening is a lovely and inspirational story of a woman who turned the flat roof outside of her bedroom window into a rooftop garden.

In the process of developing her little urban aerial space, she learned about ecology, plants, the cycles of nature and growing her own food. She even turned the experience into a book. Now that's a really fast learning curve...

spring ready photo

The author of the blog, and later the book, Helen Babbs, moved into a flat in London with a roof space and over the period of two years' time turned it into a lush and fertile vegetable and flower garden.

In her blog she tells the story of her gradual initiation into the world of gardens. She visits gardens in Italy and Germany where communal planting takes place. She goes foraging in a London park that she had never visited before, reads gardening books, visits garden centres. She makes a Christmas wreath out of leftover greenery from her balcony. She visited the Food from the Sky project and meets new friends, including a woman who is pickling vegetables.

She also sets out her concept and dream for her own garden: "It was to be organic and wildlife friendly, full of flowers that would attract bees and moths. It was to be low maintenance and done on a budget. It was to be an allotment of sorts, as well as providing me with some extra space in which to daydream and entertain friends."

The blog was started partly as motivation to get going on her own balcony. Which she does with a vengeance. After just one growing season (this is England, where things grow very easily and beautifully), she reported that she had grown and harvested: potatoes, beans, tomatoes, courgettes, garlic, strawberries, herbs and salads and more. As well " I've developed a night corner with flowers like tobacco plant, evening primrose, lavender and jasmine that are gloriously fragrant after dark. I've hosted small home grown supper parties and lost many hours to sun dozing and moon bathing amongst the foliage."

It's not all that easy, there are snails and squirrels and sparrows in addition to the bees and butterflies and moths that visit the area.

helen babb photo

The culmination is the publication of her new book. It's the story of her experience on the balcony, but also in learning about the wonders of urban ecology first-hand. As she says "My aerial gardening adventures have opened my eyes to a new side of London life, and the project has been the force behind new friendships far beyond the rooftop. We must garden in the future, making use of every scrap of growing space, seeing the politics behind our compost mixes and our cultivation choices."