Let’s face it, not everyone can afford or wants to live on a few acres out in the country. But we do all want good, healthy food and many of us find great pleasure in growing something we can eat. But what if you don’t have much space – how can you grow food then? A balcony garden may be the answer for you! If you’re tight on space, growing a garden on your balcony or a well-lit window sill can solve the problem for you. Urban gardening has been a growing trend so there are lots of tools and planters out there made just for the urban gardener. But it can still be a challenge getting started, especially if you’ve never gardened before.
To help get you started, we put together a quick how-to guide to growing a balcony garden so that you don’t feel overwhelmed in your local gardening center. Get your balcony garden started right so that you won’t be disappointed if some of your plants don’t make it and get discouraged. It’s ok, some of them won’t make it! It’s just a learning lesson for you.
Supplies for Your Balcony Garden
- Flower pots in various sizes – deep pots for root vegetables like carrots and beets
- Organic potting or garden soil
- A small bag of river rocks or pea gravel
- Watering Can
- Hanging pots are great for strawberries and herbs – use that vertical space
- Seeds or plant starts
How to Plant your Balcony Garden
- Go to your local garden center or hardware store to pick up your supplies, including plants and seeds.
- Place a layer of gravel or rocks in the bottom of the pot. This will help to keep your plants from standing in water if there is a heavy rain and also add some weight if you get high wind.
- Fill just a few inches below the rim of the pot with soil
- Plant seeds or starts according to instructions and water as instructed.
- Add any needed supports – like tomato cages – as soon as you plant. It will make your life much easier.
Keep in mind that terra cotta pots will freeze and break in harsh winter weather so unless you have someplace to store them you may want to use plastic. Also, the soil in terra cotta pots will dry out a bit faster so they may need more water.
Vegetables that do well on Balcony Gardens
- Chili Peppers
- Asian Greens – such as Bok Choy
- Mustard Greens
- Collard Greens
As you can see, you can have a whole salad bar of vegetables depending on how much sun you have. If your space is very limited you may have to choose one or two favorites to grow at a time.
Try peas, radishes, and spinach in the spring and then plant squash, eggplant, and Asian Greens. In the fall when the weather cools down again you can go back to radishes, spinach, and cucumber.
Don’t forget to plant a couple of small pots of flowers too. Encourage those pollinators to come and pollinate your plants.
BTW, you can also grow many varieties of fruit on a balcony too! Just be sure to buy the dwarf varieties!