Why a garden on my balcony?

Strawberries for breakfast, beans for lunch and tomatoes for supper should be enough to convince you. For those of us who don’t have a garden, practising “balcony gardening” is a great way to grow fruits, vegetables and herbs all summer long.

Before creating your small garden area, ask yourself a few vital questions :

  • The light exposure is really important. Make sure that your plants will have a correct amount of sunlight otherwise you’ll have to choose shade tolerant plants.
  • If you have a small window balcony, take its measurements and buy containers of an appropriate size. Choose deep and wide containers in order to plant different kinds of plants all together.
  • Ask yourself if you want to plant fruits, vegetables or herbs. If you want all of them, planting them in three different containers is the best solution.
  • Choose the right kind of pot. A plastic container is resistant and useful but not as nice as a wood or ceramic one. Some containers made out of ceramics, cement or wood will dry the soil out faster than the plastic ones. If you prefer wooden pots or baskets, make sure they are of a high quality so they won’t rot easily.

Finally, make sure that you will have enough time to take care of your pots as they require daily attention.

Ready? let’s get started

I want Fruit!

The easiest fruit to grow in a balcony pot is without a doubt, cherry tomatoes. Sungold is a perfect variety of orange cherry tomatoes that will counteract the lack of sun as it is naturally sweet enough. The other most common fruit to grow are strawberries because they don’t require much space. You can plant them in the same pot but must make sure they will have plenty of room to grow.

I want Vegetables!

Lettuce and greens are suitable for balcony containers as they don’t require much space to grow. They grow fast and easily, you will just need to keep the soil moist. Dwarf peas such as “Dwarf Grey Sugar” snow peas are also easy to grow and won’t need a trellis. A 12 inch pot should be enough for 5 or 6 plants. Finally, radishes will grow everywhere, even in the smallest pot and they will grow in less than a month.

I want Herbs!

Any variety of Thyme will be good for your container. It will need a lot of sun and a well drained soil. Don’t over water. In the same container you can plant Mint, a vigorous plant that needs to be confined in a pot. It will perfectly grow in sun or partial shade and can grow in any kind of soil. In the same pot you can also sow Tarragon, a French herb used to season any kind of food. Like Thyme, it should not be overwatered and grows best in full sunlight.

Now that I know what I want, how do I plant it?

First, make sure that your container has holes in the bottom in order to evacuate water. Then, fill it up with a soil-less mix in order to retain the water, nutrients and oxygen needed. You can also put a small amount of rocks which will help drain the water in order to avoid roots-rot. Then cover with compost.

Balcony containers tend to try out faster because of their wind exposure. You must feel the soil everyday to determine if it needs to be watered.

If you want to add some colours to your composition, you can plant flowers in between the vegetables and herbs. Nasturtiums are a good example as they don’t need much space, are easy to take care of and provide beautiful and colourful flowers.