A great season on the roof terrace – summer’s ending

A great season on the roof terrace – summer’s ending

This summer was different from other years. It was long, it was hot and dry. However, on my roof terrace, it was a great season. I loved going out, first thing in the morning, and water my plants. See if they were all right. I did some experiments this summer; not all were successful (my bean harvest didn’t even reach a full portion…), but I learned and had fun. I’m looking forward to the next months, but the days get noticeably shorter now. I thought as you followed my “journey” this year, it would be nice to give a little wrap-up of the season. The stage after winter was quite pitiful and the ambitions were big, as you may remember. Already a month later, the terrace already looked different and I started my “vegetables on the roof” experiment.

Vegetable garden on the roof terrace – first insights and new plans

I already had some experience with tomatoes and herbs, being quite successful with both on small balconies. So I was quite confident to try out also other veggies. And I’m still confident, though this year’s experiment wasn’t that lucky. A main factor definitively was the heat. My tomatoes got a sunburn and I’m now hoping in the fruits that are still green.

roof terrace, pollinators

The tomatoes did well with a lot of watering but got some sunburn, too. And they took all the water away from beans and peas. This is an enormous pot – 90 L of soil – but apparently too small for the three of them.

Beans and peas didn’t grow so well. The main reason wasn’t that much the heat, I guess. I think that the tomatoes were a bit… dominant. Next year I will definitely plant every veggie in its own pot. The beans did very well at the beginning, so I may study their agronomy a bit further for next year. They’re meant to have the double function of providing me food and sight protection, as they grow quite high. And I saw some bumblebees on their flowers, so that was a success, too.

Foodwise, I had strawberries for the first time on my roof terrace this year. They did quite well; the harvest wasn’t enormous, but I had something to nibble while looking at the flowers. I had to share, though: the wasps liked them as much as I did.

pollinators, fruit, roof terrace

People tell me every year that the wasps are worse than ever. This year I had quite a few on the terrace. They like sweet strawberries as much as I do.

The plan for next year is to increase the vegetable production: I will try again with the beans and peas, and maybe also some courgettes… I may also get some small fruit trees or berries this autumn, there are some varieties that are sold for balconies.

Flowers, flowers, flowers

Of course, besides the vegetable production, the main purpose of this roof terrace is to be pollinator friendly. Therefore, I quite invested in flowers. As the winter wasn’t very friendly to what was already in the pots, I planted plenty of new ones. I also got some new pots and planted even more flowers… the “problem” is, that once I go into a garden market I come out with much more than planned. For instance, I just needed some more soil and came back with snapdragons as well. But this was a good choice, the bumblebees liked them.

bumblebees, pollination, roof terrace

A bumblebee can fully disappear in a snapdragon. It was a favourite pass time to sit in front of the flowers and guess where the next bumblebee would come out.

Or, going to a construction market to avoid this temptation (for pots) and find Verbena, sage and bell flowers. Couldn’t resist.

pollinators, Verbena, bumblebees, roof terrace

The Verbena was visited as soon I put it on the terrace – even before I planted it. Butterflies like it a lot, too.

Salvia, bumblebees, pollinators

Sage is a bumblebee favourite and usually produces flowers for a long time.

And of course, there’s the lavender. I often find bumblebees in the early morning that passed the night there. This one from this morning was a bit bad-tempered. I wasn’t even near when she stretched her legs to show how big and dangerous she is.

Lavender, bumblebees, pollination

Keep away from me! This bumblebee wasn’t in the best mood this morning. As I’m not a morning person either, I fully understand her. Though lavender should be soothing.

Thinking about autumn and planning next year

Summer isn’t completely over yet, but the firsts signs of autumn are there. Only yesterday I noticed that I don’t have any autumn flowers that can maintain the nectar and pollen provision until it gets cold again. The other day I visited the botanical garden in Cologne and fell in love with the dahlias, and the simple varieties were really popular with different bee species. So I’m looking for some of them… Asters cheer up for quite a long time even when it gets colder, so I hope I will find some of those, too. All in all, I’m quite happy how the season on my terrace went this year. Despite the unusually hot summer, most plants did quite well. Before I prepare everything for winter, I hope I will still have a lot of nice days to enjoy them.

There is still a lot of space on the terrace, so I’m making lists and some notes in the calendar to plant and sow at the right time next year. One of the points on my wishlist is some better sight protection. The neighbours aren’t overly curious, but however, I feel kind of on a stage sometimes. My idea is some nice wild climbing rose. I love roses, especially the delicate wild varieties. For some years, I had a very beautiful one on the balcony of another house. But one winter I didn’t take care of wrapping the pot in time and a cold spell killed it. Lesson learned.

So the project “bee garden on the roof” was quite a success. There’s still a lot of room for development. I have to replace the nest blocks that cracked so that most bees don’t like them anymore. A dedicated notebook for the terrace would be nice so that I don’t forget over the winter what I learned this summer. And some wind protection, that’s still an issue. And finally, I’m wondering what other plants I could try and how many bee species I could attract next year to my roof terrace. I’ll keep you informed.


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