Welcome on my balcony!
Since moving into my apartment in 2021, I have been gardening on my twelve square meter balcony in Kiel, Germany, just a few hundred meters linear distance from the beautiful Baltic Sea. While I had almost no contact with vegetable plants as a city child, a small, raised bed from the previous tenant and the corona pandemic persuaded me not only to use the balcony as a place to sit. Instead, I wanted to transform it into a natural, green oasis that would also benefit the insects in the city.
At the beginning I made do with furniture from bulky waste that was placed on the street in front of my apartment building. Gradually, with increasing experience, I was able to expand the balcony. Since then, it has continued to grow from season to season, new raised and wall beds and a lot of tubs have been added and you usually have to search for a place to sit. The balcony is now home to over 50 different types of plants with up to ten different varieties of one species. It's not yet possible to be completely self-sufficient, but I can make the neighbours happy with a lush harvest every now and then.
For me, gardening on the balcony is the ideal balance to my job and often has something meditative about it: the peace and quiet, the closeness to nature, working with your hands in the earth, the joy of seeing what has been achieved immediately after the gardening is done and last but not least the great feeling of holding your own vegetables in your hands.
I need a greenhouse!
This year marks the start of my third gardening season and although I have already been able to cultivate a lot using the vertical beds, the weather conditions in mostly cool and rainy Kiel have pushed me to my limits: for two years I have been trying to cultivate sensitive, sun-loving plants such as melons, artichokes, and aubergines, but they cannot get used to the harsh coastal air on the balcony. They all failed to flower. In addition, I had to struggle with diseases such as powdery mildew or blight, especially with the cucurbits and tomatoes, since the balcony is only half covered, and the plants were therefore regularly unprotected from the rain.
In order to no longer be so dependent on the weather conditions, it quickly became clear to me that a greenhouse was needed. In addition to protection from the cold and rain, a greenhouse on the balcony offers a number of other advantages:
- Increasing the diversity of varieties on the balcony, as plants can be grown that would otherwise be too cold or are not thriving in windy weather.
- Protection against many diseases and pests such as insects (e.g. the cabbage white) and birds (especially seagulls in Kiel) and thus higher harvest yields.
- Extended growing time in the year, since the greenhouse allows earlier sowing and later harvesting due to its protection.
- Optimized plant growth through better control of temperature, humidity, and ventilation.
My choice: the Juliana Urban City Greenhouse
Shortly after I discovered balcony gardening for myself, I stumbled across Juliana's Urban City Greenhouse while browsing Instagram. I fell in love with it right away - with the black aluminium frame with the glass panes, the wooden planks and the shelves. Due to its compact size, the "Urban City" is particularly suitable for balconies or small gardens and since my balcony is long but very narrow (only 1.20 m wide), the size was the decisive criterion for me in addition to the aesthetic appearance.
It is also very practical that the greenhouse is on wheels and can therefore be easily moved on the balcony. Since I regularly have to lift the floor tiles and clean the balcony so that the rainwater can drain away properly, I have to be able to move all the beds (and the greenhouse as well). Thanks to the shelves, I can make good use of the available space and for example place small potted plants on the shelves, tie up climbing plants such as snack cucumbers or mini melon and thus store many plants in a small space.
I gave myself a year to make the purchase decision. I wanted to wait and see whether gardening might just turn out to be a Corona hobby for me before I invest in a greenhouse. After I couldn't think of anything else all winter, I finally fulfilled my big dream in spring and ordered the "Urban City".
The installation and the choice of location
The freight company then delivered two packages to me - a package with the aluminium frame and accessories, and a small pallet on which the shatterproof glass was securely tied. I had to wait a few rainy days and snowfalls before I could finally set up the greenhouse.
The lightweight aluminium frame was assembled in the living room. All parts were numbered and labelled as in the enclosed instructions, which made assembly extremely easy for me. While I was putting together and screwing the individual rails, I watched a video with Juliana's assembly instructions. This way, I could always reassure myself that I was doing everything right. It took me about an hour and a half to build the frame alone. I was then able to slide the frame out of the apartment onto the balcony, where I could put the glass panes, the wood and the shelves in place and tighten everything in just under two hours.
The greenhouse is placed completely under the roof directly on the wall with the most sun. Now, in spring, the first plants can get comfortable there. Since the balcony faces east, the sun usually only shines until 2 p.m., which is why I'm not worried that the plants could get too hot there in summer. If I decide on another location for the greenhouse later in the year, I can simply move the mobile greenhouse there.
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