The balcony box experiment

This blog post is made by Trine Handskemager from

The balcony is my outdoor space all summer long. As soon as it's warm enough, the balcony door is open.

This is where I sit with my laptop and write blog posts. This is where I take a nap in the afternoon sun. Of course, when I have guests, it's on the balcony that we drink coffee, red wine or eat a meal together.

Whenever possible, home-grown ingredients are included in the food and on the table. Freshly picked directly from the balcony. Depending on the season, it could be herbs, spring onions, tomatoes, chili, sugar snap peas, blueberries or strawberries. The plants I grow on the balcony have to be useful in one way or another.

Food for the bees
In the summer, I have plants from floor to ceiling and on the balcony railing, the balcony boxes hang side by side to make the most of the space.

During the summer I have plants from floor to ceiling and this year I've planted the balcony boxes with flowers. I think it's terrible that our bees are having such a hard time, so there has to be plenty of ("unsprayed") food for our little buzzing friends. That's why there are so many different flowers in the balcony boxes this year.

One of the flowers I have every year is grass pea flowers. They produce lots of lovely and fragrant flowers and they have the characteristic that the more flowers you pick, the more flowers grow, so there are also some to put in a vase.

Mad til bierne

Collect seeds and become self-sufficient
At the end of the summer, I let the flowers go to seed and then collect seeds from the flowers whose color I like best. Over time, you become self-sufficient with this method, which can be used on most plants.

Because I collect seeds every year, I hardly spend any money on plants anymore. However, I do spend a little extra on good organic soil and fertilizer.

Great smelling grass pea flowers in many colors and varieties
When buying seeds for grass pea flowers, there are many varieties to choose from. Only the annuals have the distinctive fragrance. 

Grass pea flowers can grow several meters tall, but the kind I have grows to a maximum of one and a half meters. That's still enough for them to hang over the edge of the balcony boxes if they don't get something to climb up. It should look a little wild.

I've read online that they grow more side branches and become bushy if you nip off the tops. You can do this when they have reached 10-12 cm in height. Cut just above the second or third pair of leaves. The tops should then be able to be planted again, doubling the number of plants.

It's my first time trying this method this year, so I was slightly nervous when I did the cut, but I'm hoping for a good result.

Toppe af ærteblomsterGrass pea flower tops in a little water - With a bit of luck, they may root, doubling the number of plants.

The balcony box experiment, it´s a trial and error project
In general, most of what I do on the balcony is a bit of an experiment. I got a late start with my interest in growing plants, so everything is trial and error. Luckily, both Google and YouTube have been very helpful with advice and my newfound interest, as well as the excitement when something succeeds, gave me the idea to document my results on the balcony blog, (in Danish).

Pansies and horned violets are edible flowers
I have also planted pansies and horned violets in the balcony boxes. They were also planted from seeds collected last fall.

Pansies and horned violets are edible flowers. Four or five horned violets ina bowl with salad and it's taken to new heights.

Another great summer treat is horned violets and small pansies frozen in ice cubes. Serve them in a clear glass pitcher with elderflower juice, for example.

(Be aware that the horned violets and pansies you buy may have been treated with pesticides. Another argument for growing them yourself.)

Altankasse med stedmoderblomstThe top is cut off the grass pea flower so that it branches and becomes more bushy.

My secret ingredient
A little secret ingredient that is close to my heart is the night-scented stock. It's a tiny little light purple flower that doesn't look like much. However, it releases the most wonderful evening scents as the sun sets over the balcony.

Plant the night-scented stock directly on the growing site in May. If you leave them standing after flowering, you can harvest hundreds of small poppy-like seeds. That's enough to be both self-sufficient AND share with friends and family who haven't yet been introduced to the "queen of the night".

NatlevkøjPlace the night-scented stock near your favorite spot on the balcony.

Make sure to plant plenty and plant them near your favorite spot on the balcony. The exhilarating vanilla-like scent attracts both humans and moths. And that last glass of red wine tastes even better on a warm, fragrant summer evening.