Turning a city balcony into an edible garden is a great way to add a splash of greenery to an urban life. Without requiring heaps of space or time, growing organic food on a small urban space is very rewarding and can be highly productive. Just about anything that can be grown in a garden can be grown in a container on a balcony.
Setting up an edible balcony garden will require a bit of time and preparation depending on the design. Maintaining it does not require a lot of time; 5 to 10 minutes a day or every two days will go a long way.
Start by growing some easy edible plants, such as herbs, which don’t require much space and time. Herbs will complement any cooking and add flavour to your meals, while saving money on the grocery bill. Grow what you enjoy eating, start small, build confidence and expand your edible garden. Plant a mix of herbs, vegetables and edible flowers for a healthy garden.
Decide what to grow depending on the amount of sun your balcony receives. Three to six hours of sunlight a day is good enough for most of the leafy greens and root vegetables, whereas six hours or more of sunlight a day is perfect for vegetables such as tomatoes, zucchinis and eggplants.
As space on balconies is limited, plan your edible garden utilising all the elements you have available. Walls can be used to grow edible plants vertically, such as beans and peas, zucchinis and squash can be trained up. Vertical planters such as recycled pallets can be used to grow many herbs and salads. Railings are great to hang all sorts of planters, providing they are secured.
The rule with container gardening is to ensure the container has drainage holes at the bottom to allow for airflow and for the water to drain, so you may want to drill or cut a few holes at the bottom of your container if it does not have any. Ensure you use the right size pot. If you grow beetroot and carrots, you will need deeper containers and pots (25-30cm deep) than if growing lettuces, kale or Asian cabbages (around 15cm deep). Don’t forget to water. Potting mix will dry quicker in containers and will require frequent watering.
So why not green up your city space and start an edible garden on your balcony?
By Coralie Schaff - founder of Urban Planters - www.urbanplanters.com.au