Nowadays, a lot of people are moving into apartments or condominiums due to its various perks. Aside from the convenience it brings like ease of access to central business districts, one can also enjoy the amenities that these properties offer. However, for our certified plantitos and plantitas, moving into a condo or apartment unit may mean that there’s no land to continue their gardening hobby. However, don’t be discouraged yet! You can still grow your own vegetable garden in your balcony, patio or even your rooftops!
Balcony gardening has been a great alternative for condo-dwelling plant enthusiasts. You don’t actually need a lot of space if you want to grow a variety of plants and vegetables— you just need your patience, creativity, and a lot of those plant containers!
Moreover, balcony gardens are great alternatives especially if you are aiming for a sustainable way of living, especially in the cities. Not only that you get to enjoy the very thing that you love, but you are also helping to save our planet!
Turn your balcony, patio or rooftop into a wonderful world of veggies with this balcony vegetable gardening guide!
What are the Factors to Consider Before Creating a Balcony Garden?
Permission from the Property Owner
If you are renting that apartment or condo, make sure to go back to the building’s rules and regulations and check if they allow such activity. To be certain, it is better to contact your landlord or property manager before you start ‘digging’ and working into your patio vegetable garden.
Ask yourself, “Do I have the time to properly manage and take care of my balcony garden?” If the answer is no, better yet to reconsider your decision. Creating a vegetable garden in your balcony or patio may require more time than you thought it would. Since plants are placed into small containers, they may require watering more frequently. You will also need to trim off dead leaves, twigs, and branches as well as any growing weeds. Also, regular harvesting of the vegetable is vital to keep the productivity of these plants flowing. This may seem a long list of work, but all of the efforts are worth it once you see the ‘fruits’ of your labor sprouting!
A lot of vegetable plants grow abundantly under full sun. So, another thing to consider is how much sun you patio vegetable garden gets, much preferably eight hours of direct sunlight at minimum. Also, take note that the sun changes position a bit throughout the year, so the amount of direct sun your balcony garden may vary.
If your space doesn’t get enough sun, don’t fret! There are still varieties of vegetable plants that grow fine under partial shade (4-6 hours of sun) like lettuce, kale, cauliflower, carrots, onion and other root crops. However, if you still want to grow sun-loving veggies like cherry tomatoes, pepper plant and squash, you will need to find a very sunny spot in your balcony or patio.
Using soil from the ground isn’t the best option when you grow veggies in containers as they are heavy and doesn’t drain well. Use potting soil instead which you can find good qualities of in your local garden store. These potting mix contain perlite or vermiculite that aerates the plant roots and also aids in water drainage. Also, some of these commercially-available potting soil are already mixed with fertilizers which are essential for plants to grow healthy.
Aside from being friendly to your plants, these potting mix are considerably light for your patio garden– we do not want a disastrous thing to happen such as a balcony falling due to weight overload.
Another important thing to consider is how are you going to water you plants? You may prefer to use a simple watering can, however, investing in drip irrigation or self-watering cans will save you a lot of time and effort of carrying large tubs of water from the inside of your home out in your balcony garden!
Keep the moisture level of the soil steady: do not let the soil completely dry out then saturate it with water (this will upset the roots of the plants and may cause them to wither and die). Also, be mindful enough to put trays underneath your plant containers to collect any overflows or spills. We don’t want to rain down on our neighbors below!
A good drainage is a pre-requisite in every garden. So, when choosing containers for your patio vegetable garden, make sure that it has proper drain holes to get rid of excess water when watering your vegetable garden. You can totally do it yourself by poking some holes at the bottom and sides of the container!
Terra cottas are the most common and cheapest kind of container, however, you should also consider if your balcony can support the combined weight of these large pots. You can opt for plastic containers as they are comparably light and comes in a variety of shapes, colors, and sizes. However, not all plastic containers are safe for container growing of plants. Check the number inside the recycling symbol dented on your container. 2, 4, and 5 are considered food grade and thus, healthy for your plants as well.
You can also get creative and utilize your wall space by using hanging baskets or create a ‘food fountain’ by stacking plastic containers or pots in graduated sizes.
Choosing the Right Vegetable Plants
Now that you’ve got all the patio gardening essentials all covered up, it’s time to choose the right vegetable plant for your patio garden. While there are virtually endless varieties of plants to choose from, there are a lot of factors to consider first before determining the best plant that will thrive in your given living situation.
Low-light plants like lettuce, kale, turnips and beets are best for balconies which receives partial sunlight. Many herbs like mint, cilantro, and parsley will thrive well even in the shade. On the flip side, if your balcony receives an ample amount of direct sunlight, eggplants, tomatoes, squash, and peppers are the best picks!
With the growing global concern for climate change, we need to find ways to make our living more sustainable and environment friendly. By simply growing our own produce in our balcony, patio, or rooftop, we can, in collective efforts, contribute for the betterment of our planet. After all, Earth is the only ‘home’ that we have, so we must do everything to conserve and save it.
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