If there’s one thing that sucks about living in a concrete jungle, it’s the lack of garden space. Unless you’re filthy rich and live on one of the old estates, you’re going to be pretty limited with what you can do with your garden, or even more daunting is if you don’t have a garden at all… even so, not all hope is lost.
Living in without a garden doesn’t mean you can’t cultivate your own produce. Not only will you end up with a great looking balcony, you’ll enjoy the benefits of gardening as well.
Did you know that soil has a friendly bacterium that increases serotonin in the brain! This can improve your mood, ease your stress and promote a stronger immune system.
1. Step outside
Before you start, spend some time outside. Realistically assess your ‘plot’ position – is it sunny all day, shady and cool, windy, in the direct face of southerly winds? This will help you choose the best plants to plant.
2. Create a wind-break
High-rise balconies – even if they’re only one or two floors above ground – are often affected by wind. And if there’s a sea view, those breezes will be salty. If possible, erect a wind break using a trellis with a tough climber. Plant in heavy pots that won’t blow over, and give regular water to counteract the drying effect of the breezes.
3. Sun or shade?
Balcony gardens usually get light from only one direction – work out the aspect and plant accordingly. The ideal is north or north-east facing. If you’re lucky enough to face this way, most plants will grow. East and south-facing balconies need shade tolerant plants. If you’ve got a west-facing balcony, go for tough heat and sun-tolerant plants like rosemary, carrots and pumpkins.
4. Maximize your space
You mightn’t have an extensive acreage, but there’s no reason you can’t maximize the vertical space on a balcony. Use hanging baskets and pots (could be time to unleash that secret love of macramé), as well as benches – with the sun-loving plants on top and the shady ones underneath.
5. Get composting
If you’ve got room, a small worm farm on your balcony not only diverts your organic waste from landfill, it also produces wonderful food for your plants. There are also small bench top composting bins available for lovely little spaces.
6. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Herbs don’t require much space and if you’re keen on starting an edible garden, they’re often the best way to begin. Simon & Garfunkel knew what they were talking about.
7. Time for fruit and veggies
veggies such as garlic, tomatoes and carrots can grow in pots, and you can try snow peas and beans on a trellis. There are also dwarf varieties of citrus, and smaller fruit trees such as kumquat that not only look beautiful, but are perfect for a mean marmalade.
8. Balcony buddies
Companion planting can really help in keeping pests at bay. Marigolds have an offensive smell for most bugs, nasturtiums protect strawberries, and organic spray repellents such as garlic oil can keep away the nasties.
9. A little love
All gardens need a little regular love. It’s a matter of keeping an eye on those pests and acting before there’s an infestation, using organic plant food and of course, regular watering. One of the advantages of balcony gardening is that there’s often a lot less you need to do than you would in a bigger patch – just a few minutes a day can result in a whole lot of goodness.
I cam across another great site with the following tips on growing in pots. You’ll find the link below.
Marie Viljoen’s Top 10 Tips for Growing an Urban Balcony Garden:
Use a high-quality organic potting soil and augment it with compost.
Layer plants that bloom at different times on top of one another in containers—and fertilize once a month.
If your terrace is sturdy enough to support the weight, cover the floor with filter fabric and a shallow layer of gravel so plants can self-sow and naturalize.
Study how sunlight moves across the space over the course of a day and cluster your containers—sun lovers vs. woodland plants—in areas where they will thrive.
Clustering pots makes it easier to water plants efficiently. Most containers will dry out and need water every day; during a heat wave, water twice a day.
Make your peace with pests. If squirrels dig up a pot in the course of burying an acorn, be happy you’ve created a wildlife habitat in the city.
Plant a pollinators’ favorites to attract bees and butterflies. “It’s lovely to see them up here,” says Viljoen.
Herbs are the easiest edibles to grow in containers.
Some fruits also are surprisingly easy to grow in containers too: blueberries, for instance, and currants. “A lot of people are surprised by the success of my fig tree,” says Viljoen.
Vines and fast-growing climbers are good for a small space because they will lend vertical interest quickly.
So why not get out there, get a little dirty in the garden and relax this Stress Down Day.
Cheers guys, happy harvest!.