How To Start A Balcony Garden : A Beginner’s Guide
Would like to start growing your own vegetables on your balcony? Are you an absolute gardening beginner? If so, this post is perfect for you! I’ll show you step by step all you need to know to start a vegetable garden on your balcony.
Why starting a vegetable garden on your balcony?
Growing your own vegetables has plenty of benefits, and can really help you to feel happier, calmer and more in contact with nature. From my personal point of view, since I started to grow my own food on my balcony, I’ve become more conscious of what I eat, I’m happy as a clam when I observe that my little plants have grown, and I’m proud to learn something new everyday on this whole world that is plants care.
Moreover, having a balcony is somehow a great chance nowadays, especially for those like me who live in big cities. So, why not exploiting our chances all the way and contribute to a greener, healthier and funnier life?
All you need to start a vegetable garden on your balcony
1. A balcony!
But a sunny window can do the trick too 😉
Buy some containers to host your plants. Make sure that your containers are large enough to allow the correct growth of your plants.
As a matter of fact, each plant needs its own vital space to develop correctly, be healthy and be productive:
- Courgettes, melons and watermelons need containers with a diameter of at least 50-60 cm and 50-50 cm of height.
- Tomatoes, aubergines, potatoes and cucumbers need containers with a diameter of at least 40-50 cm and 30-40 cm of height.
- Salads, onions and garlic need containers with a diameter of at least 30-50 cm and 15-20cm of height.
This is the biggest mistake I made when I started growing my own vegetables on my balcony. I chose too small containers for my plants, with negative impacts both on their growth and on a higher development of diseases.
If you don’t want to buy containers, you can replace them with:
- plastic bags
- plastic bottles
- old wooden or fruit crates
- old pallets
… A good way to recycle old objects and give them a second, greener life 😉
3. Dirt, compost, clay pebbles
At the bottom of your containers, put a first lay of clay pebbles. These will allow water and nutrients to circulate better and to avoid water stagnation.
Then fill your container until the top with some good quality dirt, and water it.
Add some compost to nourish the soil and mix.
4. Plant or seed your veggies
Now you can plant or seed your veggies in the container previously filled with dirt and compost.
- Choose only local varieties of vegetables, which are more adapted to your climate
- Respect the seasonality of your plants, which means: don’t expect to harvest melons in January! Fore more information, consult a gardening calendar on line.
All you need to consider before starting a vegetable garden on your balcony
Now that you know all you need to start your own balcony garden, you are maybe wondering: how do I choose the right plants to seed? Wonder no more! Below, you’ll find a list of key elements to consider before starting your balcony garden.
1. Balcony sun exposure
Before running to buy your first plants / seeds, make sure to check your balcony sun exposure (South? West? East? North?). How many hours of direct sun does your balcony receive everyday? I am very lucky because my balcony is exposed South and receives an average of 6 hours of sun per day.
Depending on how many hours of sun your balcony receives per day, you should choose the proper plants to grow.
If your balcony receives a lot of sun (at least 6 hours), you can consider planting the following vegetables:
- basil and aromatic herbs
If your balcony receives between 4 and 6 hours of sun, you can consider planting the following vegetables:
If your balcony is rather shady and doesn’t receive much sun (less than 4 hours), you can consider planting the following vegetables:
2. Dimensions of your balcony
Depending on how big your balcony is, you should consider to limit the number of plants to grow.
However, it is important that you know that, even if your space is microscopic, you can still garden! A wide range of solutions exist for gardening in small places, like vertical gardens or indoor gardens.
3. How much care are you willing to give your vegetables?
How much attention can you pay your plants? Are you available to water your vegetables once per day, several times a day, a couple of times per week? These are all elements you should consider before starting your own vegetable garden.
The truth is that all vegetables need a minimum of water and cares. However, there is a wide range of plants with lower care requirements and degrees of difficulties. Some examples can be:
- hot peppers (if your balcony receives enough sunlight)
- herbs (idem)
Otherwise, there are also ways to minimize the amount of watering you have to provide. Some solutions are:
- install a drip irrigation system
- use self-watering pots with large reservoirs
- get drought resistant
You are now ready to start your own balcony garden. The best idea, if you are just beginning, is to start slowly! See how much time you can (and want to) spend to take care of your vegetables and then decide if you want to buy more plants or stick with the ones you already have 😉
I hope this beginner’s guide has been useful and that you’ll have fun while caring your brand new balcony garden!