Follow our easy plan
You can build a simple vegetable garden bed from just three 2.4m x 200 x 50mm sleepers (choose ACQ or LOSP ‘safe’ treated pine). Use two of the sleepers to form the sides, and cut a third in half to create the ends. Screw them together with 100mm bugle-head batten screws and bury it 100mm into the ground.
What to plant
• Beans x 3
• Tomatoes x 4
• Capsicums x 3
• Lettuce x 6
• Silverbeet x 7
• Carrots – space plants about 5cm apart
• Beetroot – space plants about 10cm apart
Tip: Plant marigolds around the tomatoes to help repel pests.
For growing success, start by getting the building blocks right – the location and soil. Then select your vegetables and you’re on your way to a bountiful harvest.
Location, location, location
The most critical starting point for your vegetable patch, whether large or small, is deciding where to place your crops so they have the best chance of success. Pick an unsuitable position and you’ll be fighting an uphill battle from day one.
Spring and summer vegetables need at least 5-6 hours of direct sunlight every day. Any less and you’ll find harvests and plant vigour decrease. You will be more likely to encounter problems with pests and diseases if plants are lacking light.
Avoid locations exposed to strong winds. They could make the dream of producing your own homegrown healthy food supply a non-starter.
Ensure you allocate adequate space for the vegetable you want to grow, but don’t create an area that’s too big for you to manage (think weeding and watering).
The right soil
Remember, the better the soil, the better the harvest. So try to get the ground right from the beginning, and your plants will flourish.
The general rule of thumb is that the soil should be nice and crumbly, easy to dig, and rich with organic goodies. The other essential is that water drains from it freely. So if you have generally good garden soil, dig through plenty of aged manure and compost to enrich it. However, if your soil is either tough clay or fly-away sand, build a raised garden bed and fill it with an improved soil mix bought from a landscape supplier (you can buy this bagged for a small area).
If you are buying bulk soil, ask your landscape supplier if they have a vegetable growing mix or an organic blend to really help your plants thrive.
If you want to grow vegetables in pots, use a premium potting mix or an organic vegetable blend potting mix.
Select your vegetables
Once you’ve sorted out the best position for your plot, and your soil or potting mix is in place, you’re ready to finalise your vegetable selection and get planting.
The best starting point when you’re deciding what to plant is to look at the vegetables you use most or find hardest to buy at the greengrocers.
If you’re a beginner, or just want to make things easier, buy seedlings (young plants 5-10cm high). If you prefer to raise plants from seeds, allow an extra 4-6 weeks lead time. You can simplify seed raising by buying seed tapes – these are made from paper, impregnated with seeds, and can be simply laid out on the soil and covered lightly.
When selecting your vegetables, have a chat with a horticulturist at your local garden centre. They’ll be able to give you advice on what seeds or seedlings are best for your area at that time of year.
If you’re planting late in the season, stick to seedlings or advanced plants.
Tips for planting
Read the plant labels and ensure you give them the space they require.
Position all the varieties in a way that gives you easy access to them when the time for harvesting arrives.
If the label says your plants will require staking or support, do so when you are planting, not afterwards.
Keep taller plants, such as tomatoes, to the rear or side of your garden bed, in a spot where they will not overshadow smaller growing varieties.
Making successive plantings of frequently used crops is an easy and effective way to extend your harvest. So, for example, allow enough space for planting a row or two of carrots every fortnight for a period of 6-8 weeks.
Consider including companion plants amongst your crops, such as marigolds and garlic, which can act as natural deterrents to a whole range of pests.
Group together plants with similar requirements, for example those with higher water demands or that prefer regular liquid feeding.
Feeding and maintaining
Vegetable gardens are like most things in life – the more you put in, the better the end result! A little time spent on a regular basis will see you getting great returns from even a small plot.
At planting time, apply a quality controlled-release fertiliser such as Osmocote Plus Organics for vegetables.
Liquid feed fortnightly (or weekly if you can), using a soluble fertiliser formulated specifically for vegetables. For vegies that bear fruit, such as tomatoes and capsicums, it’s best to use a ‘flower and fruit’ formulation.
Keep an eye out for pests, especially caterpillars. These can be safely and easily treated using Yates Nature’s Way Caterpillar Killer Dipel or Success.
Water your vegetable bed regularly – if the soil is dry 2-3cm down, it needs watering. During hot dry periods, you’ll need to step up the irrigation frequency.
Keep your beds well mulched with a quality fast-to-breakdown material, such as garden-grade lucerne straw. Only apply it after the seedlings have developed into small plants, and keep it back a little from the stems.
Growing vegetables at home is rewarding on so many levels. You’ll get to savour the taste of garden-fresh veggies all season — and everyone knows the flavour of home-grown tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and other vegetables is so much better than store-bought produce! On top of being able to serve up the tastiest green salads, roasted veggie soups, and pasta primavera on the planet, when you know how to start a vegetable garden, you’ll also save money on your grocery bills. With a home garden, you’ll have an abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs for your kitchen. In fact, you’ll likely have extra veggies for pickling or to share with friends and neighbours.
There are a few things you should know about starting a vegetable garden and helping it thrive. And if you need assistance getting started or want someone to take care of the garden work for you, you can always get help from an experienced gardener from Airtasker. Don’t worry, you can still tell your friends you grew everything yourself!
From planning what to plant to knowing how to prep the soil, with a little garden knowledge you can get started growing your perfect vegetable garden.
- How to Set Up Your Vegetable Garden Space
- What Is a Practical Size for a Starter Veggie Garden?
- How to Prep the Soil for a Vegetable Garden
- What Plants Are Good for Starting a Vegetable Garden?
- Should You Start with Seeds or Seedlings?
- Your Guide to a Quick and Easy Balcony Garden
- What Can Your Balcony Garden Grow?
- Before You Get Started
- What You Need, Other Than the Seeds
- The Layout of the Garden
- Planting Your Fruits and Veggies
- The Importance of Planning
- Find out best plants for balcony garden in this list to make your urban dwelling more relaxing and peaceful.
- Best Plant for Balcony?
- 1. Marigold
- 2. Begonias
- 3. Chrysanthemum
- 4. Pansy
- 5. Fuchsia
- 6. Heliotrope
- 7. Hydrangea
- 8. Hyacinth
- 9. Gazania
- 10. Lobelia
- 11. Lantana
- 12. Impatiens
- 13. Coleus
- 14. Ivy Geranium
- 15. Petunia
- 16. Salvia
- 17. Verbena
- 18. Nicotiana
- 19. Morning glory
- 20. Hosta
- 22. Nemesia
- 23. Portulaca
- 24. Clematis
- 25. Heucheras (Coral Bells)
- 26. Ferns
- Top 10 edibles to grow on your balcony
- Top balcony choices
- Learn More About Balcony Vegetable Gardening
- Plants for Balcony Vegetable Gardening
- Tips for Growing a Vegetable Garden on a Balcony
How to Set Up Your Vegetable Garden Space
Before deciding which veggies to plant and shopping for a fun pair of gardening gloves, you’ll want to decide the location and planter type for your garden. Here’s what you need to consider:
- Sunlight: Make sure your garden will get at least six hours of sun a day. This way you won’t be limited to partial sunlight plants. Also, plenty of sun can help to protect your plants from disease.
- Wind: Pick a location that’s protected from both heavy winds and frosts.
- Water: If you can start your vegetable garden near your water source, it will be a lot easier to take care of your plants as they grow.
- Planter Type: If you have limited space for your garden, you can use pots and vertical gardening techniques. This is a great option for apartment dwellers. Have a big yard space? You can set up a garden bed or build raised beds.
Source: peng wang
What Is a Practical Size for a Starter Veggie Garden?
Even if you have a lot of space to plant your vegetable garden, you don’t necessarily want to create more work for yourself than you can handle. As your plants grow, you’ll have to do some weeding, watering, pruning and other basic maintenance.
A good rule of thumb is to start small — 3 or 4 square metres is a reasonable size for a starter garden. Then, you can expand next season once you decide how much garden work is enough for you and how many vegetables you want. You can always add more raised beds, expand your ground soil garden bed, or add more pots or planters later on.
How to Prep the Soil for a Vegetable Garden
The right soil is essential for helping your plants to grow. Plenty of nutrients in the soil and adequate drainage is a must for healthy growth and disease resistance:
- If you have sandy soil, dig about 30 centimetres deep and work in 10 centimetres of organic matter such as compost or aged manure. Mulching can improve soil quality even further. Seaweed, straw and nutshells work well as a mulch for sandy soil.
- For clay soil, you can use the same 10/30-centimetre process, working in rough organic compost to improve the soil’s structure like manure, garden compost, and chopped leaves. Adding some sand or fine pea gravel into the soil mix will also boost the aeration quality. Mulch with soft sawdust, which will absorb extra water and prevent the soil from packing.
- For all soil types, you can work in aged compost every planting season to improve the health of your vegetable garden.
- For raised beds or pots and planters, you can purchase your soil mix. To get the best results, ask your landscape supplier or garden centre about a special vegetable garden growing mix. For pots, use a high-quality organic vegetable potting mix.
What Plants Are Good for Starting a Vegetable Garden?
When you are learning how to successfully start a vegetable garden, go for plants that are relatively low maintenance like lettuces, beans, radishes, peppers and tomatoes.
You also will want to try and plant companion vegetables near each other. As funny as it sounds, just like people, some plants get along well together and can even support one another’s growth, whilst other vegetables will stunt the growth of certain plants.
Here are some vegetable garden growing ideas, keeping companion planting in mind:
- Kale, broccoli and other plants from the cabbage family will thrive near beets and herbs from the mint family.
- Plant a salsa garden with tomatoes, carrots, spicy and sweet peppers, onions, garlic, and cilantro.
- If you love fresh garden beans, you can plant them next to your cucumbers, radishes, and celery, but keep them away from your onions and garlic.
- Squashes, peas, beans, cucumber and corn make a lovely summer garden, although you’ll want to separate your tomatoes from this combination.
What about different seasons and what will work in your climate. Here’s our guide to what to plant for your winter vegetable garden.
Should You Start with Seeds or Seedlings?
If you are starting early enough in the growing season, you can start your vegetables with seeds. Plant your seeds indoors — you can use egg cartons with potting soil — about 4 to 6 weeks before transplanting to your garden bed or outdoor pots.
Source: Markus Spiske
If you want to make starting your vegetable garden a little easier, or if it’s later in the season, you can purchase seedlings from your local garden centre and put those directly into the ground.
For any help setting up your vegetable garden or with routine care, find a gardener near you. From building your raised beds and prepping the soil to getting everything in the ground, you can get all the help you want.
Once your vegetables are planted, you’ll want to follow the care instructions for each plant and regularly check for pests and remove any weeds. Before you know it, you’ll have plump red tomatoes, fresh spring peas, sweet, crunchy carrots, and more ready to harvest.
Your Guide to a Quick and Easy Balcony Garden
Not everyone has room for a full garden, but did you know you can still grow some of your own food with limited space?
Here’s your guide to a quick and easy balcony garden. You can even grow your food in the city and make some extra room in your budget.
What Can Your Balcony Garden Grow?
In general, herbs are relatively easy to grow and plants that have vines take up little space because they can grow vertically. Here are some of the plants that are most likely to grow easily on a balcony:
- Summer squash
- Lots of greens (lettuce, kale, mustard’s, spinach, bok choy, etc)
- Spring onions
Herbs tend to like full or partial sunlight (at least four hours), so consider positioning them on the sunniest part of your balcony. You could also keep them inside by a window and leave the balcony for the plants that require bigger pots and a little bit more space.
Most greens, on the other hand, can thrive in the shade, as can root vegetables.
Before You Get Started
Before you plant your seeds and put them outside, find out if it’s a good idea to start the seedlings inside and then transfer them to the balcony. Balcony Container Gardening has a good guide for this.
Calculate the Amount of Sun Your Balcony Gets
If your balcony gets six or more hours of sun (referred to as full sun), you’re in luck and you’ll be able to grow quite a variety of plants. Three to six hours qualifies as partial sun and 1.5 to four hours is considered partial shade. Anything less than three hours is considered full shade.
If the sunlight isn’t direct and it’s coming through tree leaves or it’s obstructed in some other similar way, it’s filtered (or dappled) light. There are products, like the SunCalc, that can help you determine exactly how much light your balcony gets in a day.
Seed packets will generally tell you the amount of sunlight necessary for a plant to grow and thrive. You’ll also see ideal climate information.
These bits of information will allow you to piece together a garden that works where you live (and may even drive your decision when you begin looking for another home, if being able to grow certain types of your own food is especially important to you).
Decide How Much Time You Have
How do the watering and fertilizing requirements combined with any pruning needs for the foods you hope to grow compare to the amount of time you want to spend on your garden?
For example, if you have a very hot, sunny balcony, will you want to water especially thirsty plants twice a day?
No matter how committed you plan to be to your garden, it’s smart to start small. You’ll be less likely to get overwhelmed by the maintenance and get a true feel for how much you enjoy tending a garden before you devote too much money or energy to it.
What’s the Climate Like?
The climate on your balcony may not be the same as the climate on the ground. Is it windier? Shadier? Hotter or colder? Factor these things in when choosing your plants.
You may need hardier plants to withstand the wind that whips through at your apartment’s height, for example. Burpee’s Growing Zone Location map is a good place to start.
Ask If You’re Allowed to Have a Garden
If you’ve got the space and the sunlight for what you want to grow, there’s one more thing you should check before you get started—whether you’re allowed to have a balcony garden at all.
Check in with the management office or landlord where you live and find out if there are any rules against having a garden on your balcony.
Nothing would be more disappointing than getting everything set up only to find out that you had to get rid of it.
What You Need, Other Than the Seeds
- Pots, appropriately sized for the amount of root space the plants will need (Life on the Balcony has a helpful post about choosing the right pots)
- Materials for vines to climb
- Hanging baskets or troughs (optional, but they can help utilize your space since they won’t be on the floor)
- Gloves for keeping your hands clean and unscratched
- Trowel for digging
- Watering can (the more plants you have and the more water they need, the bigger the watering can should be so you can be more efficient)
- Organic fertilizer
In some cases, you don’t even need seeds. Take a look at Black Thumb Gardener’s post on plants you can grow from kitchen scraps.
The Layout of the Garden
The layout of your garden will ultimately depend on where the sunniest spots are, how much furniture you have on the balcony, how much space you need for entertaining guests, and how you can arrange your containers in a way that allows you to still walk around and water them with ease.
Another tip is to layer your plants with the tallest toward the back, near a wall, with the shorter ones in front. It’s easier to water them and more aesthetically pleasing.
Planting Your Fruits and Veggies
- Always arrange your containers before you pour the soil. They’re much lighter and easier to move that way.
- Pour in your organic potting soil and mix in a little organic fertilizer.
- Plant your seeds or seedlings only as far down in the soil as recommended.
- Add more soil around the base of the seedlings if necessary, once all the plants are in place.
- Add water until the soil is wet, but not completely saturated, and be sure to keep the water off the leaves as the plants grow.
The Importance of Planning
Planning ahead is perhaps the most important tip in your guide to a quick and easy balcony garden. You’ll need to take space and the amount of sunlight the area gets, of course, but you should be realistic about how much time and energy you want to commit to your garden so you’re not disappointed or overwhelmed.
Instead, you can celebrate your health and the delicious food you’re growing right outside your door!
Finally, before we wrap up this post, I’m curious:
Do you currently have plants at home? Which are your favorite plant varieties?
We’d love to know more about your garden and the plants you have, please share below!
Thanks so much and Happy Planting! 🙂
Find out best plants for balcony garden in this list to make your urban dwelling more relaxing and peaceful.
Your balcony can be a beautiful ornamental corner and an excellent springboard from everyday hustle and bustle, it could be a great place to relax. Find out Best Plants for Balcony Garden.
Best Plant for Balcony?
Although you can grow creepers, conifers, herbs, vegetables, shrubs and even dwarf trees. But for a change or uniqueness you should lean over to more colorful and sometimes intensely fragrant flowers and beautiful foliage plants. Below is a list of 26 best balcony plants and their short characteristics.
Low maintenance, pest repellent and bright. Marigolds are one of the best plants for balcony, especially in warm climates.
Begonias are easy to grow, keep them in light shade and they will bloom constantly in summer (in winter, for tropics).
Mums are the most popular flowers after roses because they come in myriads of varieties and grown in almost everywhere in the world for their beauty.
Mild fragrance and unique flowers, pansies are in our best balcony plants list. They come in many colors and sizes and are perfect for growing in window boxes and pots.
This shade loving perennial flower looks best in hanging baskets.
Bushy plant with stems up to 50 cm in height. It has dark green leaves, wrinkled and hairy stems. If you love to grow fragrant flowers, grow heliotrope.
It creates a beautiful spherical inflorescence variable in color depending on the pH level of the growing medium. Hydrangea likes frequent and abundant watering.
Seasonal and short-lived spring scenery on the balcony, hyacinths are treated as annuals. After flowering, bulbs can be dried and re-planted in the fall in pots.
Sunny yellow daisies, the native of Africa are perfect for South and West facing balconies – their flowers open with the sun and close in the early evening.
Low growing bushy plant. It looks good in hanging baskets, you can grow a lot of other flowers with it to create an interesting grouping of plants.
Comes in single and multiple colors, this wild tropical flower from South Asia releases fascinating fragrance and attract butterflies and bees.
Best balcony plant for shady balconies. It loves moisture and needs lot of fertilizers for prolific blooms.
Bushy habit, erect stems 50-100 cm. The plant has distinctive serrated leaves. It has many varieties with different colors of foliage.
14. Ivy Geranium
Ivy geraniums are beautiful double petaled flowers, perfect for window boxes and hanging baskets. They are suitable for both the tropical and temperate climates.
When comes to best plants for balcony, petunias are the winners. One of the most abundant flowers, comes in a variety of colors, petunias are easy to grow. They require frequent and abundant fertilization and a lot of sun.
It has small flowers and slightly slinging stems up to 30 cm long. It is suitable for small pots and containers and likes abundant watering.
Initially straight, verbenas loves sun and heat and can be grown in pots, window boxes and hanging baskets.
The rectified shoots needs to be supported. It has small fragrant flowers that attracts pollinators. It requires regular watering and fertilizing.
19. Morning glory
Fast-growing vine, grows up to 4 meters long. It requires strong support and frequent watering. Flowers open only in the sun in morning.
Hosta is a low maintenance, shade-loving perennial that is grown for its colorful foliage. Foliage colors include green, blue, white, gold and countless unique variegated combinations of foliage comes in many shapes.
Also known as the dragon flower, snapdragon produces small but fragrant flowers that attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Easy growing, colorful and beautiful flower, nemesia is suitable for hanging baskets and containers and can be grown in balconies easily. Learn how to grow Nemesia.
You can grow portulaca in smallest of spaces, this is one of the most low maintenance flowers you should grow on your balcony garden.
Grow clematis vine to fill up your balcony with colorful blooms. Clematis comes in many colors and use up your vertical space well.
25. Heucheras (Coral Bells)
Heucheras are beautiful foliage plants that grow in shade, they are one of the best plants for balcony, which remains shady. They come in many textures with wonderful large leaves.
If you have a shady balcony or you like to grow foliage plants, don’t forget about ferns. Most of them are suitable to grow in containers.
Top 10 edibles to grow on your balcony
Living in an apartment or small home without space for a garden doesn’t mean growing your own food isn’t possible. Most plants, including edibles, can grow happily in a pot on a balcony or in a courtyard. Pots can be placed on hard surfaces or suspended from railings or walls. If there’s a little more space, grow a few vegetables in a raised vegetable bed.
Food and water
To get the best from a productive plant in a pot, make sure the pot is as large as possible and use a good quality premium potting mix. Liquid feed regularly while the plant is growing. Water regularly – this may mean watering daily or twice daily in hot or windy weather – but water should be able to drain via holes in the base of the container.
Exposure to the elements
As your balcony may often be exposed to windy conditions, some vegetables including tomatoes may require staking to avoid their stems breaking in strong winds. Most vegetables need full sun, but a position with at least six hours of direct sunlight is suitable for many veggies. A position with sun from the early morning to early or mid afternoon is an ideal aspect for growing edible plants.
Pests and problems
Although it may seem difficult for pests to find plants growing on a balcony, it does happen. Keep a careful watch for caterpillars, snails (which may hide under the rims of pots), aphids, whitefly and scale. Fruit flies will attack soft fruits including tomatoes and chillies, so use fruit fly baits. Cover pots overnight on balconies that are accessible to possums.
For more general information about plant pests and diseases, check out this article.
Top balcony choices
Here are our top 10 plant choices for your productive balcony.
This leafy evergreen fragrant herb has blue (or white or pink) flowers from winter to early summer. Plants grow well in large terracotta or other well-drained pots. For a containerised plant, select a trailing or prostrate form, which will spill over the side of a container. Shrub varieties can be trimmed to maintain size and shape. It is best in full sun. Water well when it’s dry.
Learn more about growing herbs.
Plant strawberries in winter to produce fruit in spring. Grow them in hanging baskets, troughs, pots, vertical gardens or strawberry pots (however these need to be kept well-watered). Strawberries need regular fertiliser, water and sunshine to produce fruit. Renew plants every two years to keep them productive. After fruiting, strawberries produce lots of runners (long leafy stems). While these can be used to grow new plants, it is best to remove runners from potted plants. Be on the lookout for snails or slugs as they can attack fruit. To avoid diseases that affect strawberries growing in the ground (such as brown rot), encourage fruit trusses to hang over the edge of pots. Most varieties fruit in spring, but day-neutral varieties such as ‘Alinta’ produce fruit through into summer and are a good choice for a pot. ‘Pink Panda’ is a pretty variety with pink flowers.
Learn more about growing berries.
This is a fast-growing, sprawling herb that is productive year-round and will add a strong scent to your balcony garden. It is best grown in full sun, but does tolerate some afternoon shade. Grow it to cascade beautifully from a pot or trough, in a hanging basket or vertical garden. This plant needs very little in the way of extra fertiliser, but should be watered when it is feeling dry. Pick leaves as needed to add flavour to home-made dishes including pastas, roast meats, sauces and breads.
Learn more about growing herbs.
4. Lemon tree
Dwarf lemons are both decorative and productive as they are evergreen with fragrant flowers and yellow fruit. Select a large pot (40cm or larger) with good quality premium potting mix. Elevate pots on pot feet to ensure good drainage. Position in full sun. Apply small amounts of citrus food monthly from August to March or a slow release 6-9 month fertiliser in spring. Dwarf plants are grown on dwarf rootstock (‘Flying Dragon’) so plants grow just 1-2m high. Varieties include ‘Meyer’ and ‘Lots a Lemons’.
Learn more about growing Citrus plants.
5. Lime tree
Dwarf Tahitian limes are decorative and productive. Select a large pot (40cm or larger), again filled with good quality potting mix and place in full sun. Elevate pots on pot feet to ensure good drainage. Once established, apply small amounts of citrus food each month from August to March. Dwarf plants are grown on dwarf rootstock (‘Flying Dragon’). Plants grow 1-2m high.
For more helpful tips and advice on growing dwarf fruit trees, .
For a potted tomato, select patio tomatoes, compact plants that thrive in containers. Plant in late winter or spring to grow through the warm months. In warm climates tomatoes can be planted in late summer for an autumn harvest. Once flowering begins, keep plants growing with regular application of liquid fertiliser for fruiting plants and provide daily watering. Tall vine tomatoes are only suitable for large sheltered sunny spaces where they can be gown in a large container (40cm or larger) with a support such as stakes or a trellis at least 1.8m high.
Get more tips on growing tomatoes in Sydney.
Yes – potatoes can be grown in a container, or even a large bag! Select a large pot (40cm or larger) and plant one or two seed potatoes (small, sterile tubers) in a half-filled pot. Plant in late winter or spring. As the potato shoots, cover the growing stem by placing more potting mix around the stem. This encourages lots of tubers to form. Over 5-6 months potatoes make leafy growth, flower and then dieback. For large potatoes, water thoroughly until the plants dieback when they can be harvested by emptying out the pot or carefully lifting the plant from the soil and shaking the tubers free of dirt.
Want to know more about growing potatoes? Click here for our five steps to potato perfection.
While most vegetables are annuals, chillies can live for several years and can be grown in pots 20cm and larger. Select larger pots for tall varieties. Avoid growing hot chillies where they are accessible to children. Water when dry, liquid feed occasionally and lightly prune in autumn. Overwinter in a warm spot.
Learn more about growing chillies.
Whether your variety of choice is Italian or curly, parsley is a handy herb to have on a balcony and can be grown from seed or seedling. Grow in a deep pot that’s at least 20-25cm in size with a good quality, premium potting mix. Keep your parsley regularly watered and in a sunny spot. Plants that dry out may bolt to flower. Liquid feed every two weeks, and cut leaves as you need them for cooking, making sure to take the outer leaves first.
Learn more about growing herbs.
Mint is often grown in a container to restrict its spread as it grows by runners and can become invasive in garden beds. It likes to be kept moist and tolerates some shade. Water regularly and liquid feed to encourage larger leaves. Small green caterpillars often attack mint. Watch for signs of chewed leaves and squash any caterpillars. In cold climates mint dies back in winter but reshoots in spring.
Check out this article for more advice on growing and using herbs.
For more advice on growing plants in containers, read this article.
Learn More About Balcony Vegetable Gardening
Today, more and more people are moving into condominiums or apartments. The one thing that people seem to miss, however, is no land for gardening. Yet, growing a vegetable garden on a balcony is not all that difficult, and you can truly have a fruitful balcony vegetable garden.
Plants for Balcony Vegetable Gardening
Almost any vegetable plant you can think of to grow in a backyard garden will also thrive in your balcony vegetable garden under the right conditions, including:
- Green onions
These can all grow in containers, as can many herbs, and actually do quite well. Container gardening is becoming quite popular in balcony gardens.
You can choose any type of container for growing a vegetable garden on a balcony. Choose clay pots, plastic ones, or just containers that decorate your balcony garden the way you’d like to decorate it. Make sure the container you choose offers good drainage. The drain holes are best if placed on
the sides of the container. Place them about one quarter to one half inch from the bottom of the container.
Tips for Growing a Vegetable Garden on a Balcony
When you are planting in containers on your balcony gardens, you need to make sure to use synthetic soils. These are best suited for container plants. Synthetic soils are made of wood chips, peat moss, sawdust, vermiculite, perlite or any other type of synthetic planting media. You can fill the bottom of the container with coarse gravel before putting the soil in. This will improve drainage for your plants.
Make sure once your plants are out in your balcony gardens that you do not forget to water them. This happens more often than not. Watering one time a day is necessary and more would be too much. If, per chance, your balcony has direct sunlight and no roof, you will not have to water on the days it rains.
Any vegetable that is easy to transplant is great for container growing. However, you can also germinate seed indoors as you would if you were going to plant them in the backyard, and then transplant them to your containers on your balcony vegetable garden when they are ready.
Balcony vegetable gardening will yield a great amount of vegetables so long as your plants get plenty of moisture and sunlight. Be sure to harvest your vegetables when they are at their peak of ripeness. This will give you the best tasting vegetables from your balcony vegetable garden.
Growing a vegetable garden on a balcony is not difficult. Simply do the same thing you would do in your own backyard, except make sure to follow the soil condition and container rules listed above. If you do this, your balcony gardens will flourish.
More and more people are finding that growing a small vegetable garden can save money and provide food that is safe to eat. Using natural pesticides instead of dangerous toxins ensures a crop of food that is healthy and tasty. If you don’t have room to grow a garden in a backyard, patios and balconies offer an area for a small garden. When balconies or patios don’t offer lots of sun, there are ways to compensate.
Some vegetables don’t require as much sun as other varieties, so you can choose a variety that requires less sunlight. Another alternative is if one area of the balcony has full sunlight you can move a container of vegetables into that area for part of the day.
Planting in large containers allows growth of vegetables such as squash, large tomatoes, eggplants and bell peppers. A 5-gallon bucket container can hold vegetables such as beans, dwarf tomatoes, peas, bush cucumbers, carrots and several other vegetables. Window box type containers or other small pot containers work well for leafy green lettuce, kale, spinach, arugula, radishes and herbs.
Vegetable Garden Containers
Growing vegetables and other plants in containers have become a popular choice for many people. Containers come in many colors, sizes, materials and shapes, allowing you to create a theme or a contrast for a balcony. Small containers are easy to move around from full sun to partial shade. Larger containers make maintenance easier and the vegetable grow larger. Large containers built into square, triangle or rectangular boxes, half barrels from whisky or wine barrels, and terracotta containers are among the most popular choices. Using a 5-gallon plastic bucket works well and it is deep enough to hold moisture and the sprawl of roots. Larger containers also allow you to plant a combination of vegetables and other attractive plants that help repel insects. Multi-tiered systems set in a corner of the balcony take up little room and provide several containers for vegetables.
Hanging Containers and Vertical Gardens
To get more use out of small balcony space, hanging containers are nice if there are areas to hang them. The upside-down planter has become popular in the past few years and offers more use of small spaces. The post or rails of a balcony work well as a trellis for climbing vegetables such as cucumbers, squash, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes and melons. Attaching a lattice panel to the railings or a wall allows climbing vegetable plants to grow without taking up much space.
Maintenance of Your Balcony Garden
Whatever type of container you choose for your vegetables, some maintenance is required to be successful. Watering is critical for container-grown vegetables. Plants of any type grown in containers require watering once or even twice a day. Hot sunny days, dry air and wind cause plants to dry out quickly. A few items required for maintenance besides water include containers with holes in the bottom, sterilized potting soil, water-soluble or slow-release fertilizers, hand pruners and a small shovel. Conserving moisture in larger containers is easier by using bark or straw for mulching.
Creating a small vegetable garden in your balcony is easy by using a well-drained container, the correct soil, and keeping it maintained with water, fertilizer, and the proper amount of sunlight.
In every city, everywhere, those square boxes of flats stack up into modern living and, if you are very lucky, you get a little balcony to sit out on. But if all your outdoor space adds up to not much more than 1m x 3m, with average light conditions, what can you grow to eat?
The first thing to consider when growing on a balcony is this: it’s going to be windy. In fact, all the extremes are going to be felt more readily up there. Plants will dry out quickly in windy conditions, and this can dramatically affect their productivity.
Terracotta pots will dry fastest in windy conditions, wicking moisture from the soil; they also tend to be a lot heavier than metal or plastic pots. If you do want to use them, line the insides with plastic (reusing compost bags makes the most sense). Don’t squeeze plants into tiny pots or you will end up watering more and ultimately reduce their lifespan. The more roots there are, the more you get to keep on picking your supper.
Chillies and tomatoes are ideal for hot balconies. Smaller varieties of chillies, such as ‘Numex Twilight’, will be happy in a five-litre pot; larger fruited chillies need pots of 10 litres or more, as do tomatoes. Choose small fruiting varieties of these, such as ‘Gardener’s Delight’, ‘Sweet Aperitif’ or ‘Yellow Pear’; you get a long succession of fruit that is perfect for snacking or salads, rather than larger varieties with which you tend to get less fruit.
If you have walls suitable for hanging baskets, try tumbling tomatoes such as ‘Hundreds and Thousands’, ‘Tumbler’ or ‘Balconi Red’ and ‘Balconi Yellow’.
Kale, swiss chard, runner and french beans all give lots of pickings in small spaces; with these, put a single plant in a pot of at least 10 litres. All will cope with partial shade, too. You can get the beans to grow to the light with some inventive string supports.
I would add in herbs, because you get a lot for your money if you look after them well. Rosemary, thyme, savory, chives and sage are all more than tough enough to take balcony conditions. Bear in mind, though, that a mature rosemary will grow to at least 1 metre wide and 1.5 metres tall, so to keep it in a 15cm pot would be to torture it.
Basil won’t like windy conditions, so tuck it in between other large pots or add it around the base of tomatoes; they are good bedfellows, both improving in flavour from being together. Basil also wards off whitefly – not that most flying pests will like your conditions; they tend to hate wind. Aphids may take up residence, but they often target plants that are weak, usually because of erratic watering.
Salad leaves, particularly lettuce, dislike full sun and wind. If you grow them in such conditions, the leaves will be bitter and tough. Growing as cut-and-come-again makes more sense, but don’t sow too thickly – overcrowding will only add to the competition.
Peas and broad beans (try dried fava beans as a cheap seed option), sown regularly, will give you endless cuttings of sweet, delicious shoots.
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