Winter vegetables on the balcony

Self-watering pots make a huge difference to the balcony garden.

I was so grateful last year that I’d grown six kale plants that this year I’ve increased the number of winter vegetable plants that I’ve planted on the balcony. I’ve got six ‘Red Russian’ Kales, six curly kales, two ‘Nero di toscana’ and ten rainbow chard plants in various locations.

One of the most annoying things about balcony gardening is the speed at which things dry out. The most useful containers are the ones which retain water well. The Herb Garden is excellent for this because it is nice and deep and the woodwork is protected, so it doesn’t soak up water in the same way that other containers do. And then there are these self-watering troughs from Urban Allotments.

self-watering trough

I’d actually found it really hard to find any windowboxes suitable for balconies, let alone ones with the brackets that hang over balcony railings, so was pleased to review these for Urban Allotments. These boxes have an inbuilt saucer and a pipe with an indicator to show you when the saucer is full enough.

The plants love them: my chard doesn’t have the tough, chewy leaves that plants under stress do, and has been growing well. And I only needed to fill the reservoir up once a week in the summer. That’s good, because not everyone wants to spend every evening watering the pots on their balcony, and I’m certainly grateful for anything that reduces the watering burden.

self-watering trough

The only problem I have with the trough is that although you know when water is running low in the saucer, you don’t quite know when it is getting too full. This would be fine if the saucer didn’t overflow when you’ve overfilled it. I am slightly more worried about this than others might be, as our downstairs neighbours have a balcony directly below us with furniture on it, and I am terrified of dripping water on them while they smoke.

But other than that, these troughs have made a real difference, and the dripping problem is obviously much less than it would be with a conventional trough with holes in the bottom. They look smart, and clip on neatly to the balcony.


You can buy the troughs here.

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