This cheerful bit of optimistic propaganda compliments of the Chinese Communists is an interesting video about Venezuelans becoming urban gardeners to solve the food crisis they face. When I first heard of this business of encouraging people to grow their own food on their balconies I was horrified. Having been a gardener for many many years I know it is impossible to grow enough food in containers on a balcony to do more than get some fresh treats.
Since I was building myself a greenhouse I thought it would be fun to try some mixed container gardening. My long term goal was more food from my garden in spring and fall. The plan is to move the containers into the greenhouse. I made five such containers. One I put in a single seed potato and a bunch of onions sets and some dill. One container I filled with a mix of green and yellow beans. One container I planted in snow peas and another regular peas. And in the final container I tried some mixed seeding. It was a row lengthwise of mixed radish and carrot seeds. I then had a row of spinach, lettuce, peas and beet seeds.
The containers required more watering than my regular garden. They also needed a lot less weeding and fussing. They did produce. The mixed container gave me about a dozen nice radishes first. I have not yet harvested the carrots and beets. There are five lovely looking beets and about a dozen carrots of decent size.
The same container previously yielded two dinners worth of cooked spinach, lettuce that produced enough for about six big bowls of salad and lots of leaves for sandwiches.
The peas in the mixed container unfortunately only gave me 10 nice pods. The other full container of peas gave us enough for one dinner but we ended up eating them raw as a snack instead. The snow peas have just begun and, so far, we have enough to add a splash of taste and color to a couple of stir fries.
The bean container have given us six bowls of beans. They produced very well and though they are nearly at an end. I consider them as worth the trouble.
The biggest producer was the single seed potato. I also had put in a bunch of dill seed and there dozen onion sets. I pulled the onions to eat as green shallots. The potato plant grew to a huge height, choked out the dill, and then died off. The container was full of medium sized potatoes. For us that is enough potatoes for several dinners.
The conclusion of my little experiment is the following. Only potatoes and beans produce enough to justify their own container. as a prepper style container, with potatoes being far out in front. The mixed container gives the best over all results with it providing us with a small amount of yummy veggies over a number of weeks. Salads and greens were certainly a welcome addition to our diet.
However it is very clear to me that one simply cannot grow enough produce on your balcony to feed yourself and your family in the summer to last you over winter. Okay, so maybe Venezuela doesn’t have the same harsh winter we do in Manitoba. Even without counting winter, such containers cannot produce enough food. Prepper and everyone else who think you can somehow survive on a garden balcony need to re evaluate this plan. And if I ever do find myself in a position to try to grow food to survive using containers, I’m planting mostly potatoes, maybe some beans and maybe a mixed container or two.