Once you understand the growing environment on your balcony it’s easier to design your garden and select the right plants. If you don’t get things exactly right the first year you garden, one of the advantages of balcony gardens is that they are easy to change from year to year, making experimentation a breeze.
Preparing for Spring
Do not put plants out on the first sunny day! Seedlings need to be gradually exposed to the elements to strengthen them for direct sunlight, wind, rain and cold.
Introduce plants gradually by taking them in for the first two nights and putting them out in the day. For the next three nights put a cardboard carton over them on the balcony. Finally after a week of gradual introduction, you can put them outside.
FIRST AND FINAL FROST in Quebec
Final frost refers to the last common date for the spring thaw, and indicates when it is generally safe to plant your seedlings. Often warm dates in late April or early May will inspire people to plant their crops early, some times resulting in a deathly frost which will freeze and kill the plants. The first frost refers to when the winter freeze often begins, and indicates when to finish harvesting your crops.
Officially – May 4th
Common practice in Quebec – May 14th
FIRST FROST: 2nd weekend of October
Preparing for Winter
Cold temperatures allow for a limited growing season in Quebec. Some plants will die and need to be replanted, some can or must be brought inside for the winter (ie. Hibiscus) whereas most perennial plants will need to have their containers winterized by insulation. Un-insulated planters will likely freeze the roots of your plant, killing it.
EXTENDING THE SEASON
- Place floating row cover on top of soil, add a greenhouse or wood structure
- First planting in April, Last planting in August
- Late season plants: Kale, Chard, Mizuna, Carrots, Beet
- Some ways to insulate your planters:
- Cover outside of pot with straw, cloth or plastic packaging in late September or early October.
- Pile snow around your planters to make a natural insulation.
- Line with Styrofoam before adding soil in the spring