5 Tips On Growing Your Vegetables In The Balcony

If you are a passionate vegan like me, the thought of growing your vegetables would have probably crossed your mind once or twice. Today I have five tips for growing your vegetables on your balcony thanks to the folks at Love Backyard.

1. Assess the Physical Condition of your Balcony

Usually, balconies facing southwest get full sunlight for most of the days. However, buildings or walls my obstruct sunlight on some part of your balcony space. Hence, you need to assess, how many hours of direct sun remain on the space, you intend to grow vegetables. You can do this with a watch or by using a gizmo, called sun calculator.

Assess the timing of the growing season because the movement of the sun varies from winter to summer. Also, consider the heat because all plants can’t bear with extreme heat to which your balcony may usually be subjected to. For instance, lettuce and endive won’t thrive in extreme heat, whereas succulents can. Also, the quality and the taste of endives and lettuce improve with adequate sunlight.

If your balcony is exposed to heavy wind, select the wind tolerant plants. Avoid growing tender plants. You can create windbreaks to protect fragile plants. Coldness is another factor for consideration if you want the plants to grow throughout the year. Check your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone.

  • Select plants that are rated two zones more cold tolerant than the rating of your zone.
  • Choose the vegetables; you like to eat, based on the number of hours of sunlight your balcony gets in a day. Note: tomatoes, cucumbers require 5 to 8 hours of sunlight for a good growth and yield.
  • If your balcony is shaded partially and sunlight is insufficient, you may choose kale, chard, and lettuce.
  • You can find information regarding the amount of sun required, from the seed packets or seedlings.

TIP: If you lack space for your vegetable garden, you can also have a “hanging garden” on your balcony, as long it gets enough sunlight.

2. Select the Right Containers

Choose appropriate containers or pots, according to the root lengths the fully grown plants. For instance, peppers, greens, and lettuce have shallow roots and need containers of around 20 cm depth. Tomatoes have a larger root system and require a container of around 19 litre capacity. You can choose containers made of ceramic, clay, and cement, food grade plastic or wood. Make a hole below the containers for drainage of excess water.

3. Plant using Soil, Fertilizer, and Water

Along with soil, fill three fourth of the pot with organic container mix. If you are planting a seed, put it in the hole, twice as deep as its diameter. If you are planting a seedling, dig a hole, as deep as its diameter. After placing the roots in the soil, cover it with container mix and a little compost. Water the container thoroughly after planting and then daily, as the soil dries down quickly.

4. Add Fertilizer Regularly

Organic fertilizer is vital to achieving next-to-perfect gardening soil. As the plants don’t get their usual nutrients from the soil, put fertilizer on the containers, every month. You can dig a small amount of compost or organic fertilizer, as per availability.

It will help in enhancing the nutrients holding capacity and water content of your vegetables and plants. It will also aerate and loosen the quality of your clay soil.

5. Utilize Vertical Space and for Aesthetic Arrangements of Pots

Space being the main constraint, optimize the use of your vertical space. Hang planters on the wall and grow vegetable vines and shrubs like beans, tall tomatoes, squashes, gourds, near the railings and walls.

Arrange the pots symmetrically, according to their sizes so that they have an aesthetic look, such as putting the larger pots behind, the smaller ones.

Vegetable inspired Dinner

Here are some delicious plant-based recipes you can try to showcase the delicious flavour of fresh vegetables:

  1. Asparagus pasta and Portabella; Supplemented: Add a few sun-dried tomatoes, green-side salads, and some toasty garlic bread to your portobello and asparagus pasta for transforming to an ordinary pasta recipe. Read full recipe here.
  2. Irish Apple and Potato Mash: Although best suited for the celebration of St Patrick’s Day, you can find this odd combination of Irish apples and mashed potatoes an equally good match for the Easter recipe. Read full recipe here.
  3. Ginger Carrot Soup: This recipe is nutritious and tasteful, with a touch of sweetness and spice. The addition of a dollop soy yogurt and vegan sour cream to take it to the next level or creaminess. Read full recipe here.
  4. Creamy Artichoke Lemon Pastas: To make it special for the Easter, add mushrooms or few sun-dried tomatoes to this creamy artichoke lemon pasta. Read full recipe here.
  5. Tofu Artichoke Risotto: This can be a delicious one for the entire family; the tofu artichoke risotto recipe is low in fat, but little more of protein. Read full recipe here.
  6. Praline Sweet Potatoes: This lovely dish is made with sweet potatoes, pecans and orange with a little sugar added. You can get a Southern touch to these praline sweet potatoes by adding vegan margarine. Read full recipe here.
  7. Lentil Shepherd’s Pie: It is lower in fat, compared to the traditional meat-based pies. To add to this pie’s flavor, put a layer of mashed potatoes over it. Read full recipe here.
  8. Bunny Salads for Kids: Your kids will love this bunny salad a lot because it is shaped like bunnies and nestled in fresh spring grass. Read full recipe here.
  9. Broccoli Soup: Delicious and easy broccoli soup to please the entire family. Read full recipe here.
  10. Mushroom and onion soup: This is another recipe that can be cooked from vegetables grown on your balcony. It’s an easy, healthy cooking option perfect for the cooler season. Read full recipe here.

Enjoy !

How to Make Homemade Soy Yogurt (Without A Yogurt Maker)

Friends, this is the best homemade soy yogurt I’ve tasted (and created). Being vegan and dairy-free, finding a good yogurt is bloody hard. Some are ridiculously overpriced, and some are full of sugar and flavourings. Some taste good but way too rich for everyday consumption (and yes I’m looking at you CoYo).  But this…this is perfect.

Homemade soymilk

It’s creamy, tart, and thick (it can be made even thicker if you could be bothered draining the whey, which I don’t). But more importantly, it is super easy to make.

You don’t need even need a special equipment or a yogurt maker or a thermometer. It’s almost foolproof.

The Steps. It’s easier than you think

Here’s my steps to making this homemade soy yogurt.

  1. Get a good non-dairy starter culture. I highly recommend Belle+Bella which you can get from Iherb. You can also get a probiotic capsule from the pharmacy.
  2. Use a good quality soy milk. I used Vitasoy Soy Milky for this recipe. It’s my favourite at the moment.  Bonsoy also work great
  3. Get an insulated lunch bag and a mason jar. The bag will act as your ‘incubator’ and the mason jar filled with hot water will act as your heat pack to keep the temperature inside the bag nice and warm for your culture.

The secret to making Homemade Soy Yogurt without a yogurt maker

When I was making this soy yogurt for a first time, I was worried that I don’t have a yogurt maker to make it. But then I was reminded of my time as a Microbiologist. Bugs grow… even if the temperature is not optimum. The colder or hotter temperature will just make them grow slower or faster (unless it’s too hot in which case, they will die). So as long they in an ‘okay’ temperature, they will be ok. I know a lot of people are nervous about not having everything in perfect condition for these little bugs but trust me… they’re tougher than you think.

Without a yogurt maker to keep the temperature at the optimum level for the bugs to grow, we need to do something in order to get the same result. And that is by doubling the amount of starter required.

That’s it. That’s the secret.

Homemade soymilk

There you go!

Homemade soymilk
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Homemade Soy Yogurt (Without A Yogurt Maker)

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 500 ml
Author Keren

Ingredients

  • 500 ml soy milk
  • One packet of non-dairy yogurt starter or one probiotic capsule I use Belle + Bella.
  • 2 clean mason jars
  • An insulated lunch bag

Instructions

  1. Heat up 500 ml soy milk in a pan until it almost come to a boil. Set aside to cool to about 35 C (warm to touch).
  2. Add a packet of non-dairy yogurt starter
  3. Pour into one of the jars and place it inside the lunch bag
  4. Pour hot water into the other jar and place it inside the lunch bag
  5. Close the bag and let it sit in a dark warm place for 2 days. Taste and if it's ready, place in the fridge to cool.
  6. Add your flavourings.
  7. I use a teaspoon Beyond Latte Ginger Latte Mix to give it a nice spicy ginger flavour.

Let me know how you go

If you make this homemade soy yogurt, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x

Sadhana Kitchen | Vegan Chocolate Cake

Sadhana Kitchen Cake Shoot – April 2017

Renowned for their delicious vegan foods, Sadhana Kitchen now do cakes. And I had the pleasure of shooting them.

10 Vegan Recipes You Should Try This Easter

Easter is coming! Why not celebrate it with some delicious plantbased foods. Here are 10 vegan recipes from some of my favourite chef, food bloggers and friends which you can try to make this season.

So, without further ado.

 

1. Curry and Coriander Scramble – The Kind Cook

Need something savoury for the Easter morning? If you never had scrambled Tofu, then it’s time to give this amazing breakfast dish a crack.

2. Turkish Rose Chocolate – The Fit Foodie

This one-bowl recipe is so simple and ready in under 40 minutes (including setting time) so you can kick back and enjoy a guilt-free substitute that’s sure to blow your {turkish} socks off.

3. Egg Free Sponge Cake – Sweets and Greens

An egg free sponge cake with a caramel flavour and only 6 ingredients really deserves to be made. If you include the icing and strawberries, then it has nine ingredients.

4. Vegan Cheese – Healthyeating Jo

Want some dairy-free cheese to entertain your guests? Check out this amazingly delicious vegan cheese recipe that is unbelievably easy to make.

5. Vegan Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns

Say no more.

6. Lentil Bolognese – Eager for Life

A delicious pasta recipe that is packed full of protein.  So easy to make that even a non-cook can make it.

7. Vegan Frittata

Let the chickens keep their eggs. Try this delicious egg-free yet egg-y frittata which is full of vegetables, fibre and protein.

Vegan Frittata

8. Chickpeas in Turmeric and Peanut Butter Curry – Vegan Richa

Try this easy chickpea curry which a twist. It uses the peanut butter or almond butter sauce with Indian spices, turmeric, red bell pepper, carrots, summer squash.

9. Vegan Bean Burger 

Vegan burger can be a hit and miss. But this burger has just the right texture and taste that rivals its meaty counterpart. Juicy, chewy and full of protein. Where do vegans get their protein you say? Have a bite of this.

10. Vegan Easter Egg – Jamie Oliver

Last but not least. Easter will not be complete without some mouth watering Easter Eggs. But rather go with the traditional Easter Eggs, why not try this refined sugar-free, vegan chocolate egg thats better for you and everyone.

HAPPY EASTER EVERYBODY

Keren x

Vegan Meyer Lemon Cake

A while ago I was given a dozen of Meyer Lemons. I’ve never had them before so I was quite surprised at how mild they are compared to the regular lemons. They’re smaller, sweeter and their skins are softer than regular lemon.

So what do you do when life gives you lemons? You make lemon cake of course.

The Secret

The secret to making this vegan meyer lemon cake so soft and moist is that you use the entire lemon (4 of them to be exact). Skin and all. Less waste, more flavour.

It is very easy to make:

  • You cut the lemon
  • You mix the flours and baking soda together
  • You blend the wet ingredients and lemon together
  • You add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients
  • And you bake the thing.

Oh and there’s more

I added slices of fresh lemon on top of the cake to give it extra zing! No mucking around here. This is the ultimate lemon cake for hardcore lemon fan.

What are you waiting for…

This cake uses a total of six whole Meyer lemons (four for the batter and two for the topping). Meyer lemon is smaller, sweeter and less tangy than normal lemon but you can also normal lemon as an alternative (use two instead of four for the batter). And if you worried about it being too bitter, you can peel the skin off before putting them in the blender.

Stay in touch!

If you make this cake, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Kerenx

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Vegan Meyer Lemon Cake

A delicious, soft, and super lemony cake that will take your breath away
Course Cake, Dessert
Cuisine Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword cake, lemon, lemon meyer
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 6
Author Keren

Ingredients

  • 4 Meyer lemon washed and quartered
  • 2 Meyer lemon slice thinly
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour or glutenfree flour for GF option
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180 C.
  2. Lightly spray a cake tin. I use a small loaf pan.
  3. In a large bowl, add plain flour, almond flour and baking soda. Mix well
  4. Remove seeds from lemon quartered. Add them to a blender. Blend until smooth.
  5. Add coconut oil, sugar, water, vinegar, vanilla extract and salt into the blender and blend for a few seconds to combine.
  6. Pour the mixture into flour, mix until just combine.
  7. Pour into the prepared tin. Carefully place sliced lemon on the surface of the batter.
  8. Bake for 30 - 40 minutes. Check after 30 minutes by inserting a knife or a skewer in the middle of the cake. If the knife comes out clean, the cake is ready.
  9. Remove from the oven to cool for 5-10 minutes.
  10. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe Notes

If you don't have Meyer lemons required for the recipes you can replace them with 2 normal lemons.