Small Space Gardens- The Balcony
the balcony garden
My Terra Edibles seed catalogue arrived in the mail yesterday. Terra Edibles is a Canadian company that sells heritage seeds. Their tomato seeds are what I buy when I plan to start tomatoes from seed. The varieties available are impressive.
This year I will not be starting my tomatoes from seed, but rather purchasing plants from a local nursery. Rose’s Landscaping is within walking distance from home and when they open, in mid-May I will pay my first regular visit. Tomato seedlings are inexpensive and I get a serious return on my money.
This year I am returning to balcony gardening. The space I have available is on two levels. The top level has a great view but little sunlight. Calculating how much sun the balcony gets is crucial to deciding what will grow there. Greens can get by a four to six hours but tomatoes, green peppers and cucumbers, for example, need eight. I will probably hang a window box over a railing where the sun is most prominent and grow salad greens. This area is right off my kitchen so very handy for a cut-and- come again garden.
The second floor balcony is much larger and gets a minimum of eight hours of sunlight per day. It can also be quite windy and hot so it will be necessary to pay close attention to the plants’ watering needs. Wind and heat can dry out containers fast.
On this level I will place my tomatoes, likely six plants in five gallon containers with holes in the bottom. There is only grass below this level and where the containers will be placed is an area not used so the drippings from the containers will simply water the lawn and weeds growing below. It is important to give thought to what is beneath your balcony when designing your garden, and be sure to have something under the container to catch excess water. You may water properly and not cause excess to overflow but rain is not as careful.
After you know where you are going to place your containers or whatever vessels you are using to grow they garden; the most important question is to ask yourself, how much time do you have to spend taking care of the garden? Balcony gardens usually take the form of plants in containers and may actually require more attention than a backyard garden does.
So take the time to consider your schedule and all you do in addition to tending the garden, and plan accordingly.
Match the container to the plant, five gallon pails are great for tomatoes and cucumbers, you could probably grow zucchini as long as you provide a trellis for the plants to climb. In fact, you can grow whatever you want in a container as long as the size of the container matches the plant. Weight can become an issue; especially in larger pots once they are filled with an organic potting soil mix they will be heavy. This means they may be hard to move and will put added weight on the balcony.
Even a small balcony garden needs a plan, something you put down on paper so when it comes time to plant you can refer to it. A journal can help you keep track of what you have planted, how they grew, what worked and what did not.
The plants will attract pollinators such as butterflies but also bees; give this careful thought if someone in your family is allergic to bees. Bees and butterflies will not be your only visitors, so if you use the balcony for recreational space, think about where the chairs are in relationship to the garden. Mark this on your plan, not everyone appreciates the many garden helpers who will visit an organic garden.
A small balcony garden can produce flowers, herbs and vegetables throughout the growing season. A little thought and planning before you begin goes a long way.
Thunder Bay Balcony
- The Balcony Garden
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