Balcony Gardening: Small & Simple Ideas for an Urban garden

Do you live in a small apartment with a balcony? Is urban gardening your dream hobby? But how to do balcony gardening if you are a beginner? As it turns out creating a balcony with a garden is a very easy thing to do. And growing your own vegetables helps protect our planet as well.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Let’s learn how to grow delicious vegetables and tasty herbs in your small garden in the middle of the city. It is so easy it’s almost trivial.  And yet so few people do it despite balcony gardening can easily supply you with your own fresh vegetables and herbs.

It is common to rent an apartment or condominium. Acquiring your own home has become costly thus not everyone can afford to create a big garden behind a house.

But growing your own food is still possible. With gardening, you will reduce pollution and become a bit more self-sustainable. Instead of throwing away your organic waste, you will be able to compost.

Besides, why would you go to a store to buy a package of herbs f every time you need a few leaves of your favorite herbs to cook a delicious meal?

Phase 1: Start smart – Start small

No matter how good your intent is, the best is to start small. You will get a true feeling about the maintenance of your balcony garden.

1. Containers & soil

Buy yourself a big pot. A pot must have enough holes in the bottom to allow drainage of water, also adding a layer of gravel at the bottom of the pot helps with that. Buy plastic pot – it is cheaper and easier to move around. The pot should have also a saucer to catch the water that drains out of the pot.

Select small 5-liter (1.5 gallons) pots for most herbs. Use 15-liter (4 gallons) pots for larger vegetables such as tomato, squash or cucumber.

The best soil includes lots of compost and organic matter such as composted leaves or shredded, aged bark. Buy also fertilizer.

Arrange your pot position on the balcony before you pour the soil in. Empty pot is much lighter and easier to move around.

Pots with herbs (Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

2. Buy seeds and plants

What are the best vegetables to grow?

Here are some of the plants that are most likely to grow easily on a balcony:

  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Zucchini
  • Summer squash
  • Lettuce, kale, mustard’s, spinach, bok choy
  • Broccoli
  • Mint
  • Rosemary
  • Cilantro
  • Lavender
  • Parsley
  • Basil
  • Radishes
  • Spring onions

You can combine multiple vegetables and herbs into a single pot. Create a veggie threesome of thriller, spiller, and filler. Learn more about growing herbs indoors.

Thrillers tend to grow up. Plant tomatoes, peppers or rosemary.
Spillers tend to spill over the pot and grow down. You can plant strawberries, cucumbers or squash.
Fillers are occupying space between thrillers and spillers. Good choices are parsley, carrots or basil.

Salad and kohlrabi(Source: Twitter/@chr_kram)

3.  Enjoy gardening

Plant seeds into the soil and water them. Wait for the plant to sprout and enjoy the process. It is important to learn what time of the year is best to plant your vegetables. Use Seed sowing calendar to learn which month is the best for your vegetables.

Add water until the soil is wet, but not completely saturated. Don’t pour water over the leaves.

Seed packets will generally tell you the amount of sunlight necessary for a plant to grow and thrive. Find out if it’s a good idea to start the seedlings inside and then transfer them to the balcony.

A very good alternative to seeding is to buy already sprouted plants. Especially herbs, already growing in small pots, can be found in your local store. Additionally, you can buy plants of tomatoes and salads.

Sprouts (Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash)

Growing your own – super-fresh vegetables is a great hobby and retirement program; it works as a stress-buster and an anti-depressant.  Even a tiny balcony garden will yield a pretty good harvest. 

Small urban garden on your balcony (Source: Twitter/@Krameike)

Phase 2: Grow big and beautiful

Congratulations you have passed Phase 1. You started small and you created a small garden on your balcony. Along the way, you have confirmed your passion for gardening. Now it is time to move to Phase 2.

In Phase 2 we make our garden bigger and more beautiful. A small balcony will be transformed into your garden where you grow your vegetables, herbs and flowers.

Having a small balcony gives us an excellent opportunity to get creative and resourceful.

The best approach to maximize usage of limited space is to use:  Height

Pyramid plant system Source:

Arrange larger pots at the back of the balcony. Fill in with smaller pots in front. This makes all of the plants visible while allowing all plants to receive enough sunlight. Position sun-loving plants toward the front of the balcony where they’ll receive the maximum amount of light. Place plants that need some shade toward the back where the building or balcony roof will provide them with some relief from the sun.

Hang potted plants from hooks on the balcony ceiling.

A great example of using height to get more space (Source: Twitter/@marklanetv)

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Did I miss anything about gardening that should be listed here? Add your voice in the comments.

Happy gardening!

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