Here is the balcony i'm working with. Skåne, Sweden
This photo was taken on June 10, 2017 at 2:40pm local Swedish time. Beautiful.
As you can see, the balcony is south-facing so it gets a fair amount of sunshine, even in the summer when the sun spends a lot of time to the North. In the equinox seasons, the sun will be almost continuous as it gets lower and lower in the sky to the south. The total area of the balcony is 2 metres wide by 10 metres long. There is a conservatory area of 5m long (furtherest from us) and a completely outdoor area of 5m long (nearest us). As you can see, the old single-glaze windows in the conservatory have recently been removed and nice thick panels of ceiling to floor glass are being installed. The panels are on tracks and can either be closed firmly shut, or pushed back against the wall as you see in this photo. This means that the conservatory can either be completely enclosed, or completely open - or partially, according to the weather.
I plan on putting a "day bed" in the conservatory to rest and relax on, for both summer and winter. The conservatory space will be considerably warmer in the winter than what it used to be out there, with the nice new thick glass panels going in. They will be air-tight. So summer, autumn, winter or spring, this "spare bedroom" can be fully opened out onto the natural environment, or completely toasty, snug and private with a small heater going in the winter months. I am completely looking forward to creating it !! 😊
It's a pity the railing of this balcony is solid. This presents some issues of sunlight getting onto low-growing plants. I will likely start all plants growing in pots in the middle of the balcony and then either:
(1) push the pot to the shaded side once the plant gets tall enough, eg: sunflowers, climbing berries, broad beans, sweetcorn, rambling roses, passionfruit... or >>
(2) set up shelving of around 50cm height and put the planters on top of the shelving for maximum sunlight, eg: rocket, marigolds (companion plant to keep pests down, eg: white fly in carrots), pyrethrum (pest inhibitor also) radishes, lettuces, kohl rabi, herbs, spring onions, red onions, shallots...
These "shelves" can be cupboards in fact where I store everything related to my gardening efforts underneath, eg: empty pots and planters not currently in use, seeds collected in envelopes and labelled (seed saving - which I will explain how to do later), plastic sheeting (to be laid down when removing compost from the worm farm - to keep the balcony as clean and tidy as possible), garden trowls, gardening gloves, a "brush and shovel" set for sweeping up small messes, a bucket to carry water from indoors, a squeezy watering bottle for high-up hanging planters, home-made garlic, pyrethrum and oil potions (sprays) for pest eradication, spray bottles - recycled window spray bottles to put my potions in will do fine, and so on.
Update June 12, 2017. I've just had an amazing thought !! I could paint my cupboard doors with "mirror paint" or fix mirrors or mirror mosaic (made from broken unwanted garage sale mirrors) to the doors of the cupboards. These shiny cupboard doors would face the apartment windows and reflect back any reflected sunlight off the windows, onto the lower-growing plants. Brilliant! I now continue... (June 10 article) >>
Here is the "raw" space. It's so great to have the above photo that my darling took yesterday in Sweden.
Note: I am still living in New Zealand... The time to immigrate will be around April next year (2018).
I am completely looking forward to transforming it all into a crazy "garden of paradise". I predict that wandering out into the balcony garden and conservatory "sky-clad" or just wearing underwear will often happen... as Anastasia does (naturist). Swedes are quite open about naturist life-style and have beaches set aside for nude sunbathing and bathing. Culturally, this is not a problem. My sweetie often wanders around his apartment on the weekends in just his boxer shorts - summer and winter (very warm indoors). The apartment is on the third story of the building, and the balcony looks out onto a tall tree border with farmland beyond, so privacy is not at all an issue. It will become (i'm sure) our own personal little Garden of Eden that we not only eat from, but breathe in the oxygen-rich air, bask amongst the sun-dappled greenery, sip mint juleps and chamomile teas from, and enjoy the pleasant soothing fragrances of lavendar, rose, daphne and basil.
What a truly wonderful space 💖