Balcony gardens are a good option for those that live in apartments, and love to garden. Most plants including vegetables, flowers, herbs and some fruits grow beautifully out on a balcony during the summer months.
Balcony Gardening Requirements.
One of the most important requirements in starting a balcony garden is to assess how much sun the plants get. A good 6 to 8 hours is necessary so that flowers bloom, vegetables produce and herbs stay healthy. Some balconies are just not situated in the right direction to get that much sun, or they may be shaded by trees and other buildings.
Another requirement is to assess the weight a balcony can support. Check with your landlord about placing a garden on the balcony. Some apartments may have their own regulations on what you can and can’t do. Not many landlords would object to a couple pots of tomatoes but they might not like it much if you cram the balcony so full of plants it cracks off and falls to the ground.
Take into consideration the weight of the containers when they are wet as opposed to dry because the weight is much greater when wet. Some apartment dwellers like to naturalize the balcony.
They put down a special fabric on the floor, spread gravel over top and then place soil on top of that and plant. This adds a great deal of weight to the balcony and may not be suitable. Avoid trying this unless your landlord says it is okay and get that in writing.
Water is another requirement to be considered. In some cases, the balcony will not be situated so that it receives water from rain. Another source of water is needed whether it is to hand carry water out to the plants in a watering can or hooking up a hose to the kitchen sink.
Containers On The Balcony?
A verity of containers exists for planting on a balcony. Pots are large and small, tall and squat. Some are long and narrow and some will even attach to the rail of the balcony. The most important thing to look at is the drainage holes.
If there aren’t any at all, avoid using the container. Plants need to have adequate drainage or the roots will rot and you won’t have any harvest or blooms. Layer containers by raising some up on bricks or cement blocks. Containers come in a variety of materials from terracotta to plastic and cement. Terracotta dries out fast and plastic takes a little less time for moisture to dissipate from the pot.
Soil For Balcony Gardens.
Always use sterile potting mix in your containers. Regular soil from the ground is too hard and heavy. Keep containers as light as possible by using a potting mix. The soil will be light and airy and roots will have an easy time to spread and become fruitful. Because the soil is in a container, the plant will not be able to get nutrients from the soil unless you add them.
Water plants with a water-soluble fertilizer at least once a month during growing season to ensure they are getting what they need to grow strong and produce a good harvest. Always pour the fertilizer water at the base of the plants so they do not get the leave wet and cause a possible burn.
What to Plant.
Almost anything is possible in a balcony garden and that includes fruit trees.
- Columnar fruit trees are specifically suited for tall containers and the trees grow in compact fashion so you can harvest peaches, apples, plums and more.
- Most perennial flowers and herbs are suitable to plant in containers, even those that come back year after year if the pots are insulated enough during the winter.
- Annuals grow well on balconies for the season. The only vegetables that do not do well on a balcony are those that have deep roots or need deep soil.
- Corn might not be suitable for a balcony but potatoes can be grown in garbage bags where soil is added layer after layer when the plants grow to a certain level.
- Tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, broccoli, carrots, beets and other above ground and root crops can do great on a balcony in the right container.
- Zucchini, melons and pumpkin might be a problem because of how the plant spreads, but cucumbers can be grown by placing a trellis at one end of the balcony and allowing the plant to grow up it.
Balcony gardens are great for gardeners that have had to move into an apartment. It keeps them gardening, active and doing something they love even when they no longer have a yard. It also adds to their food supply and well-being.