Now that I live in an apartment, I’m looking for ways to still enjoy some of the benefits of a home (although I don’t know that I need to live in a house again). One of the things I enjoyed about living in a home was the gardening. I’m starting to grow an indoor herb garden, but I also want to be able to grow certain vegetables, even though I’m in an apartment. This is where the balcony container garden comes in handy. Our apartment has a balcony and I’ve been formulating a plan for growing a few things when spring comes around.
Containers and Soil
I still have some old flower pots from before, and these would make great containers for some of my vegetables. However, there are some produce items that need a little more growing space than what my old flower pots offer. Just about anything can be used for your balcony container garden, though. Wine boxes, barrels, watering cans, and large tubs can all be converted into containers that will work well on your balcony.
As you prepare to plant, though, it’s important to remember a few things that can increase your chance of success:
- Remember proper drainage: You need to make sure that your containers have good drainage. Some containers are made with drainage in mind, and most crates and barrels are going to have a degree of drainage. For containers without drainage, make a loose layer of rocks on the bottom can help create drainage.
- Look out for the sun: While you want to make sure that your plants get adequate sunlight, you should also realize that too much sun can be problematic for the roots. Pay attention to how your plants respond to their location, and remember to water frequently (morning and evening are best) to avoid drying out the roots, or frying the roots with the sun’s heat.
- Compost and mulch: Just as you can enrich the soil in a more traditional garden, it’s possible to do the same with your container garden. You can do composting on a smaller scale, and even use mulch, to prepare your soil. Work on composting in your containers through the winter, and when spring comes, your soil will be ready.
- Know what different plants require: Finally, be aware of the growing conditions needed for certain plants. Make sure your containers and your balcony both fit the vegetables you want to grow. If your balcony doesn’t meet the conditions for one type of vegetable, look for produce that will thrive.
A little preparation is likely to bring success. I’m carefully reviewing which plants I want to include in my container balcony garden.
Produce Suited for Container Gardening
While you can make some vegetables, like corn, work in a container, the reality is that it can be tricky to grow certain items in a container garden. Here are some vegetables and fruits that many container gardeners agree are likely to do well in many situations:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Salad greens
- Bush beans
- Peas (if you can provide support)
It’s also possible to grow root vegetables in a container, provided the container is deep enough. Potatoes and carrots can be grown in containers, as can onions — including green onions. It’s also possible to grow blueberries, but we tried that once and the soil requirements make it difficult to work out with success.
You can look into espalier fruits. This is a way of training certain trees to grow in ways that make them more conducive to container gardening. If you have the ability, it’s possible to grow small pear and apple trees and get produce from them. We used to have an orange tree in a container in our house, and it provided fruit. However, even though you can grow lemon, lime, and orange trees in containers, you need to live in an area where the trees won’t get too cold at night if you want to set them up on the balcony.
Our container garden, in addition to our herbs, is likely to be limited to tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, and peas. However, even though that’s a small number of items, they are items we frequently enjoy, and it’s rewarding (and healthy) to grow some of our own food.