Apartment Balcony Gardening
Don’t have your own plot of land as a renter, but still want to garden? If you’ve got a balcony, a porch or even just a stoop, you can grow almost anything (climate-appropriate, of course). Flowers, herbs, vegetables – even small trees – can all be grown in pots, planters or window boxes. The ingredients are the same, but there are a few additional tips to consider.
The most significant difference between an in-ground garden and containers is the amount of water that is retained. The smaller volume of containers means that moisture evaporates much more rapidly, especially if the spot is sunny or windy. In extreme locations, watering might be necessary twice a day. Compost, moss, mulch and even rocks placed on the surface can help slow this process.
One of the factors in water retention is the quality of the soil. Most likely, you’ll be purchasing potting soil to fill your containers. Organic, quick-draining, moisture-retaining, nutrient-rich soil will get your plants off to a great start. If you have access, grab some fresh worms and throw them in, too! They will keep adding nutrients back into the soil and keep it healthy.
While pots are technically mobile, you are likely limited to a small outdoor area and unable to mitigate lighting conditions. If you are growing vegetables, 6-8 hours of sun will be important. Many flowers also have sun requirements. If you don’t have a lot of sun, greens will still thrive along with a whole host of shade-loving flowers and plants.
The larger the container, the better chance your plants can retain water and spread their roots to grow strong. The shape is key, as well – tapered pots expose more of the soil to the elements. For hot climates or south-facing spaces, light-colored materials will help to avoid overheating the roots; in cooler climates, darker colors help to retain heat and extend the growing season.
But, the most important tip? Just pay attention to your plants. You can read up about the requirements for each one, sure, but your plants will tell you when they aren’t getting what they need. Enjoy the process, establish a bond and get your garden on!