Blooming Sky Garden


Lee Bestall
1st July 2019

Back in late April I planted up the first of the vegetables in the sky garden and 3 months on I’m keen to share the results.


The idea was to see if I could grow food in the light well above our living room, using up no ground space or surfaces and maximising the available light and heat from the roof lantern. I trailed four types of plants, a cucumber, a bush cherry tomato, some dwarf runner beans and a chilli. 


We’ll start with the successes. Without a doubt, the chilli plant has been the most successful and is currently full of flowers and small fruits which are months ahead of most plants growing in the greenhouse. The plant is healthy, strong and full of side shoots thanks to pinching out the leading tip just after planting. 


Surprisingly the cucumber comes in second position. I’ve watered it twice per day, unlike the chilli which only requires watering once daily, presumably due to its smaller leaves, but the cucumber leaves soon turned to face the light and over the past month has produced many flowers. The first ten flowers were all female and although small fruits formed, they soon went brown and dropped off. I was about to give up and put out an SOS for some male cucumber pollen (finally I’ve discovered something Amazon don’t sell!), when one morning I noticed one swelling more than the rest. After about one week the next three all did the same and have continued to do so. I’ve removed two of the fruits as they were very misshapen but the remaining one is now about 20cm long and thickening up nicely. Since producing this fruit, the growth and flowering has stopped, but presumably will continue once the fruit has been harvested.


In third place is the bush tomato. I just can’t give it enough feed and water and it dries out to the point of wilting every evening despite watering morning and night. It has produced a good set of small fruit, but due to its water requirements I know they won’t be successful and will probably have split skins so have decided to pot it on and move it. I think it very much enjoys the sky-high living, but just not the lack of compost and water. 


And finally to the failure, the French dwarf beans. Lack of water and too many plants in one pot were probably the reason that as the plants matured they failed. In the end I moved them outside, but for these plants it was too late. The beans were misshapen, leaves hungry and generally sad. 


Due to the success of the chillis I’ve decided to plant more and am looking forward to a bumper crop later in the year which I should begin harvesting in just a few weeks time and go on doing so into late autumn. I’ll continue to feed them weekly and change to liquid tomato feed as the flowers develop.


Until next time, happy gardening!

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The Author

Lee Bestall

Lee Bestall

As a horticulturalist and garden designer, I'll be guiding you through the seasons ahead, sharing tips, successes and failures and exploring some of the new and inventive products on the market.

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