Balcony vegetable gardens have become a popular trend as the cost of getting healthier food surges. Having a balcony vegetable garden saves money by providing greens on your plates and is a healthy hobby you can do with your family. Living in a crowded city doesn’t mean you cannot have a balcony vegetable garden. It’s just that you need to know what to do and what to avoid before starting one.
Here are the 9 ultimate tips to start a balcony vegetable garden.
Check the rules and regulations of the building.
If you live in a rented building, such as an apartment, be sure you know how much the balcony can hold. Can it support the pots, soil, water, and plants?
If your balcony can withstand heavy loads, consider using wooden raised beds so that you can use the space efficiently.
For balconies with limited load-bearing capacity, lighter pots such as fabric bags and plastic pots are the best. You can also recycle food packaging boxes for planting. They are suitable for growing shallow-rooted varieties such as spinach and lettuce.
Do You Have Time To Care For Your Balcony Vegetable Garden?
Also read : Fast Growing Vegetables In Pots
Many people living in a hectic urban life are looking for ways to connect with nature. Gardening is one of them. By starting a balcony vegetable garden, you are committed to allocating time to care for your plants.
Choose low-maintenance plants if you work and have little time to care for your garden. Some plants that require little maintenance are zucchini, herbs, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, radishes, and beans. They thrive well, even with little care.
Set a Budget For Balcony Vegetable Garden
When starting a balcony garden, the essential tip is to avoid making a big investment at once. Starts from small and slowly grows. Buy seeds from the local gardening stores and community. Do not buy ready-to-plant vegetables, as they can be costly.
Buy pots and containers that are on sale.
The only thing worth spending good money on is buying good quality soil. Excellent soil quality can ensure the healthy growth of plants, resist pests and increase yield.
By starting slowly, you allow yourself to familiarise what is working and what’s not. It is best to take your time to avoid over-budget.
Choose the right plants.
Choose the right plant for your balcony vegetable garden. Identify whether your balcony receives sunlight in the morning or evening. Is it windy? Choose plants that could thrive in the condition and suitable vegetables for the season.
The most crucial factor to consider is the sunlight received throughout the day. This area gets six to eight hours a day of direct sunlight.
If you have a balcony that receives the most sunlight during the day, it is suitable for growing most flowers and vegetables. Tomatoes, strawberries, melons, squash, cucumbers, and okra prefer in full sunlight.
Choose herbs and plants that thrive under a partially shaded area if your balcony is partially shaded. This area receives four to six hours a day of direct sun. You can grow veggies like peas, onions, cauliflowers, chard, and beets.
Some sunlight-loving plants thrive under partially shaded regions, but their growth rate could be slower.
If your balcony doesn’t receive direct sunlight, it is unsuitable for growing plants as most plants need light.
Windy balconies cause the soil and plants to dry up quickly. Frequent watering is required to maintain moisture. Build a trellis or mesh that can block the wind. You can plant fragile plants in front of wind-tolerant plants to give them protection.
Prepare a layout in advance according to the size and shape of your balcony. By planning, you can maximize the opportunities you could have on your balcony vegetable garden. You can arrange large beds and containers outside to distribute space and weight evenly.
Plan plants that are suitable to be grown in the area. Plant vegetables that bloom from flowers, such as cucumbers, tomatoes, and squash, in the area that receives full sunlight. Grow root vegetables like beets, potatoes, and carrots thrive in partial shade areas. Grow leafy vegetables such as lettuce and spinach in shaded areas, as they are the most shade-tolerant vegetables.
Look for the drainage pattern of your balcony. Put a saucer under the pot if it doesn’t have a drain and tend to pond.
Healthy soil is the ultimate key to growing healthy, strong plants that resist pests and diseases and produce crops abundantly. Choose potting soil that contains perlite or vermiculite to help the roots of the vegetables get water and air. Potting soil is lighter than backyard soil; its lightweight criteria make it best for balcony vegetable gardening.
Many potting mixes already contain plant food, but when you recycle the soil for the following plants, give them a boost by adding water-soluble fertilizer. Vegetables grown in pots require loose, fertile, well-drained, and nutrient soil. Incorporate slow-release fertilizer, well-rotted manure, or compost in your soil during planting. Remember to water the soil after fertilizing to ensure the nutrients get absorbed by the soil.
Do soil testing at home to identify the pH value of your soil. Most vegetables prefer slightly acidic to neutral soil (pH 6 – 7). Once you find the soil type, amend them according to your growing plant.
When recycling the soil, remove the root system by sifting it and baking it under the sun to ensure the insect’s eggs and pathogens are destroyed.
Sow seeds in the germination tray before planting as the germination rate is higher than sowing them directly onto the beds. Transplant them once they produce two true leaves.
Some vegetables prefer direct sowings, such as melons, gourds, carrots, and turnips. Therefore, it is best to sow them directly into their containers. These plants are susceptible to damage when moved.
Planting Vegetables On Balcony Vegetable Garden
Seedlings are better transplanted on cloudy days in most soil. On sunny days, transplant seedlings in late afternoons or evenings. Transplanting them on a hot sunny day could put plants in stressful conditions and cause wilting.
Water the seedling before transplanting to prevent shock and breakdown of soil around the roots.
Polyculture is an excellent way of planting vegetables in the balcony garden. Growing different crops from various plants in the same environment gives you a higher yield and less work. If you choose the companion carefully, each plant could support the development of the plants growing in the same beds. Planting in polyculture ways not only makes effective use of space, but they also share nutrients and effectively control pests, weeds, and viruses.
For example, chives and kale, tomatoes, and sweet basil.
Rotate crops each year
Rotate crops each year if crops are essential to avoid the soil’s nutrients being exhausted. Rotating crops could prevent diseases and pests from the previous plants. Besides, rotating crops each year improves the soil structure and texture, which in turn provides good conditions for seed germination and root proliferation.
Here are top balcony vegetable gardening quick tips
- Choose varieties that won’t grow too large for your container and pots
- Use good quality potting soil
- Frequent watering and preventing soil from drying
- Use self-watering containers in dry areas
- Consider auto-drip irrigation
- Fertilise as needed
Having a balcony vegetable garden surely benefits many families in the urban city. By growing their own vegetables, families could save money and be able to get healthier food daily. Parents get to teach their children gardening and connect with nature.