Since the dawn of man we have been growing our own food. And as we did, other staples showed up to eat our food, and so we also had, meat too. Now these days, those “staples” still show up sometimes, and they are now “pests”. So we developed ways and chemicals to “shoo” them away from our beloved veggies. Balcony gardening, those problems just aren’t there.
Now that it’s almost impossible to afford rural living with so many small towns turning big, where there is no room to spread out, we are spreading, up. The economy is getting so bad we are finding ways to keep out internet, FIOS, cell phone, car, habits, there are ways to cut costs, and now we think about food. So where do we start?
Balcony Garden 101
So when you wake up in the morning, where is the Sun? In the evening, again, where is it? Just how much light gets to your balcony? Ya see where I’m starting right? Let’s also think about room. How many square feet do you have and are there banisters and railings? You’ll need them if they are there. Can you afford a good variety of pots from 8″ up to at least 5 gallon size? Obviously you should do cheap or you cut into profit. Can you install hangars or eye hooks for hanging baskets? On a 4’x10′ balcony with railings and ability for about 5 hanging pots, I have helped folks get to where they were having to take their “overflow” to work and give to neighbors produce, and still have way too much for them. And the aesthetics were wonderful. The last thing to accomplish is watering. Can you just deal with 5 to 8 trips from the sink and a watering can every few days, or is your nearest sink within 50′ of the balcony, because then you could purchase one of those “Coil” type hoses and the small adapter for the spigot, and you’re in there. All you need now, is soil, plants, and farmer go for it.
Garden the Containers First
Well, actually second, but this is priority too. First would be which plants can you grow from the sun, room, etc. questions above, but this will get you motivated. You are going to need pots, Potting mix, gravel or Styrofoam peanuts, and veggie fertilizer, watering can or that fancy hose. Check into those “Gro Boxes” they are worth the investment and can grow thru the seasons. Self contained tote sized gardens. For your climbers, search out simple trellises or simply put a Tomato Cage in the pot, and let the Pole Beans go along with Cucumbers. Terra Cotta pots dry out quicker and most Porcelain pots have no drain holes. Drainage is important.
As you are starting your pots, add about 1 1/2 inches of stone or the peanuts first, this is so the soil doesn’t clog the drain holes. Then add your Potting soil about half way, pull your plants roots apart a bit if they’re crowded, it’s ok if they rip a bit, they will form more. Place the plant in the soil and backfill up around the root ball. Water gently until water comes out the bottom. if the soil settles below the roots, add a bit more. That one is done. Tomatoes, I plant at least 2/3 of the entire plant below the soil. Those leaves below, will turn to root, from root you get bloom, from bloom, Tomatoes! Seeds that are directly in the pot, are about 1/4 inch below the soil. This would be like your Cucumbers, Squash, Radishes, Carrots, Beets, Beans, Herbs. Use tables, plant stands, fancy saucers, etc. to liven up the scenery.
Care After The Plantings
If you do the watering can thing, get one that pours “gently” and you can control the flow. Don’t want to wash out the babies downstairs. Those coil hoses are OK if you are within 50 feet of a sink. Remember to get the faucet adapter. The hose is usually in the garden center, the adapter is in the plumbing department. Specialty fitting.
Usually while its mild out, you can get away with watering about every 6 days or so, after the heat sets in, you may have to step it up a bit. I like the saucers, if its dry, the soil is getting dry. Fertilizing can be done in a slow release granular type, Liquid types are like every 3 weeks or so. We’ll do fungus and bugs later in the month or so, but until then, have fun and respect the parameters of your balcony. Rotate the pots every so often if you think they aren’t getting enough sun. Check the web for apartment gardening or balcony garden pics.. You can grow too.