New to Tomatoes, Wind and Veggies on the Balcony

sthlmgreenJune 2, 2006

Hi! It's my first post. When I found a forum for balconies and had to join!

This is my first year growing anything. I have managed to start tomatoes, peppers, swede, leeks and some spinach. I also have lots of herbs but most of those are okay indoors. I've done everything for super cheap using found pots and things like toilet paper rolls to start the seeds off.

I live in Stockholm, Sweden. My balcony is 9th floor and has a railing and is concrete up to this raining, if that makes sense. There's a roof and walls on both sides.

Maybe I was too optimistic. I was planning on growing two tomato plants a tall shelf and have taken off a few boards so that the plants grow right up through the shelf. I was planning on tying the branches on to the shelf using the whole thing as a planter. Another three (the smallest tomato plants) are in a mini greenhouse.

I have had them out a few afternoons and then a few nights now, but today almost all 7 plants that were out (from one to two feet high) were blown over. They're still in too-small pots and today was my day to put them in their final containers. But the wind was so bad they were blown over and off their shelves. And they barely fit in my apartment as it is. They're desperate for new pots but being outside wrecks them. Any ideas?

One plant snapped in half. I doubt there's much hope for that one. I have several with very withered leaves. What should I do, take off those branches, or leaves or hope they recover?

Thanks for any help or experience you want to share. I look forward to learning a lot!

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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Hi sthlmgreen and welcome!!!

I know how you feel regarding wind on the balcony. I am on the 18th floor and have found that the place on my balcony with the most sun is also the windiest, but that is the only place where I can grow my veggies (due to the area having the most sun and enough room to grow these plants).

This is what I just planted last Tuesday (the 2 large and 2 medium containers with shredded newspaper as mulch):

I had started these from seed - the tomatoes - "San Marzano", "Big Beef", "Snow White" (a cherry tomato) - and am growing tomatillos from seed. I started them in plastic yogurt cups that had clear lids and then I transfered them to 16 oz plastic drinking cups, and finally to 1 gallon nursery containers before planting. I had some extras after I gave one of my sisters some so I ended up jamming 2 plants per container, trying to keep the larger plants in the larger containers and smaller plants in smaller containers when crowded together like that.

The containers I am using include storage bins from Rubbermaid - the 14 gallon size. The smaller containers are Rubbermaid containers made for vegetables that I bought years ago but that they no longer sell. The one thing about the storage bins is that when filled with soil, they are very stable and don't blow over on days when it is very windy.

I do know what you are talking about when you mention how the plants can snap in the wind or the leaves can wilt. Every year I try to put something on the windy side of my veggies that will block the worst winds, and this year I am trying my paniculata hydrangea (the shrub in the corner in the above picture). It is now 4 years old and is getting somewhat battered, but so far it has done the best as a wind block of anything that I have tried in the past without much damage to itself. Plus it is the type of hydrangea that does best in full sun, so it is getting alot more sun than it used to get on the other end of my balcony. I want go to the local large hardware stores to see if I can find some plexiglass that I can use to be the windblock instead of my hydrangea. The one thing that I want is something that won't block the sun but will block the wind, and the plexiglass should do that.

In your case, I would just remove the withered leaves and any totally broken branches - BUT tomatoes are amazing plants and sometimes you can tape up a broken branch and secure it in place and the branch will heal and grow just fine! When I was hardening off my tomatoes in their small pots, one of my Snow Whites had bent in half and after I kept tying it on a stake and it kept flopping, before I finally planted it, I taped the bend with some tefllon tape (used by plumbers) and planted it so that the taped portion was under the soil in the big container. It totally wilted the rest of that day (you can actually see the wilted plant tied to a stake next to the rail in the gray container closest to the date on the picture). The tomato remained wilted like that the next couple days (it was also very hot here), but as of this morning, after we had some windy rain that soaked my balcony and the plants, it has perked back up again and looks like it's almost back to normal now (don't have my camera available at the moment but will be taking a picture later)!

You can actually root broken tomato branches in water or in soil because they can form roots along the stems.

    Bookmark   June 3, 2006 at 9:27AM
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Greetings from Copenhagen and welcome!

I think it's about time, you get those things in the containers, where you want to grow them. As Jenny mentioned, tomatoes can grow new roots from the stems, therefor I think you should remove the bottom leaves, and plant them deeper, than before. This way they will quickly develop lots of roots, which is essential for a healthy plant. This is what I've done with my plant, and it thrives!

Lykka til!!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Lots of help, if you understand Danish (great site!)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2006 at 7:22PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Here's my latest photo as of today.

The wilted "Snow White" is up and growing fine. I had received some mail order plants not long ago that had shredded newspaper as packing material, so I am using that to mulch the tomatoes and that's what you see in both pictures. This seems to be working well so far.

As vgtar noted - planting "deep" is good and all of my tomatoes were done like with each transplant that I did of them once they sprouted. Almost all of them are flowering right now. It is supposed to be hot here the next couple days so I flicked the blossoms to hopefully get them set because if the temps are too hot, the pollen will become sterile (most particularly if the temps are too warm overnight, which tends to happen here during heatwaves).

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 10:32AM
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I have two tomatoes and some herbs out now on the front balcony/deck of my house -- that's just where I get the best sun. I do worry about wind whipping them around, but so far, so good. My issue here (coastal Southern California) is getting enough sun. We tend to get a lot of fog, and they just hate that. This year I grew plants from seed. The Park's catalog has a number of vegetable plants developed especially for container gardening.

One thought: for drainage purposes, I added a layer of pea gravel to the bottom of the container before adding soil. It also helps stabilize the pots.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 10:09PM
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Well, the wind in S. Cal. is really only terrible when the Santa Anas blow in the fall. So I don't have to worry about it as an every day occurance. But after having found several of my plants 2 stories below a few years ago. I bought some heavy gauge wire and tied my containers to the the railings and weighted the bottoms of the containers. Some of the more delicate plants are staked or branches are supported with wire. Then I just hope for the best.
Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 7:30PM
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