You’ve always wanted a garden but all the outdoor space you have is the one on your balcony? Well – you’re in luck! Balcony gardens are not only trendy and wonderfully attractive, but they can also be practical enough to provide you with a full gardening experience you’ve always wanted. All it takes is some careful planning and preparation.
Read on to see how you can fit your dream garden into your space, budget and daily routine.
Size up your balcony
The first thing you should consider is the space you have available. Giving up in case you think you have a tiny balcony is not an option. Use your vertical space to create a vertical garden. Go shopping for a planter or even make one yourself out of used milk jugs or metal cans. Install hooks to hang baskets or pots and let the beauty hang about. Trellises will provide enough support for your climbing plants or you can always pile up pots and create the space you need that way. Before you go any further and think about the plants you want and all the requirements, why not consider organic gardening? An organic garden can be started with minimal financial investment, and requires relatively little space and makes perfect sense for today’s urban dweller.
Additionally, there are no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers involved, and the whole experience is as rewarding as it is healthy.
Consider the Sun
Calculating how much sun your mini garden will get is vital for the wellbeing of your plants. This should not be done on an estimate, of course, since you need to know exactly how much sunlight will be available and at what times. If you can’t afford to time it yourself, there’s a handy gardening tool you can use called a sun calculator.
It will help you determine which plants will suit your solar conditions best by measuring the accumulated light hitting the desired spot in your garden. Just make sure you do your calculations in the season that’s right for your choice greens.
Find your plants
This would be a good point to decide which plants you would like to grow and what they will need to thrive. If you’d like to start with something less demanding, herbs are an easy to grow starting point. They do like their sunlight though, so perhaps you can keep them in a window while you use the balcony space for bigger plants that are quite happy growing in the shade, like most greens and root vegetables. The list of possibilities is not a short one. You can plant cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, spinach, lettuce, kale, broccoli, mint, lavender, parsley, basil, radishes and more. Consider your balcony’s microclimate and make a well-informed choice.
Learn how to care
While you’re having fun choosing your plants, bear in mind what they’d like. Lettuce, for instance, will wither in extreme heat while succulents will be thrilled. Consider the wind as well, since you’ll have to protect the fragile ones from it. This can be done by installing a windbreak or planting wind tolerant plants around those that need protection. If you live in a windy area, you’ll have to water them more than would otherwise be necessary. Use a drip irrigation system, self-watering pots or just water them yourself several times a day.
Set aside some time
Your plants might be able to endure the sun, the wind and the rain, but they will not be able to survive completely on their own. You do need to commit yourself to your garden and set aside some time for a little TLC. If you travel a lot or are out for lengthy periods of time, think about how to minimize your care.
The ideal thing to do is to start slowly. Begin with herbs, more specifically – with basil. Not only does it smell and taste great, but it’s also an enthusiastic grower.
It’ll let you know right away if you’re not watering it enough by looking kind of sad, but one good shower will make it perk up again. This is a great way to see if and how much you actually like gardening, as well as how much time and effort you can dedicate to it. You can always buy more plants, and you’ll have a good idea about what your balcony can offer and what plants are right for you. Slowly but surely, your green thumb will be the envy of the neighborhood.