I've always wanted a big garden for as long as I can remember :) But
I've literally just got my first flat with my boyfriend.
Does anyone have any creative ideas for the balcony? It's really not
big at all, I have a low budget and limited space.
How big is the balcony. Look around for information on container
gardening. Most smaller vegetables can be grown in containers, and often
more than one plant can be grown in one of the larger sizes. And as cat
daddy suggested, some plants can be grown "upside down" if you have
places to hang them.
pots with light soil (must water) and stack pots. I actually enclosed
a porch in Minnesota with plastic and summered my orchids out there.
pick up a cheap step ladder and place containers on that. if the
balcony is covered then you may be able to get away with pots with no
holes, controlling overwatering is a problem.
google balcony gardens
look for designs for small spaces too.
On Sun, 23 Sep 2007 18:39:17 +0100, badhabit
Can you get big (2 cu ft/55 liters) polythene bags of potting soil
in the UK? If so, you've got the start of a "pillow garden" that can
be really cute and cheap. For the rest of it, you'll need some waterproof
tape (maybe) and a funnel or a plastic water bottle with the bottom cut out
so it can act like a funnel, a knife and some plants.
One bag will grow a standard tomato, or multiple smaller plants.
Start by laying the bag down on the ground, and bringing the sides or ends
of the bag in towards the center, so the soil inside becomes a thicker
layer. How thick? You choose. Tape the bag edges you've turned in to
the bag so it'll hold its new shape. Cut a couple of Xs in the bottom of the
bag.. maybe an inch long or so and turn the bag over and position it where
you want your new planter.
Cut one or more Xs on the top and/or sides of the bag, and stick a seedling
through each X. Cut a couple more x's very low on the sides... drainage
holes. One more X in the top, fairly centrally located, for the funnel or
the plastic water bottle neck shoved in that X. Water and watch
your plants grow.
The one disadvantage of this is you will have to fertilize with a water-
soluble fertilizer. Generally, by frost, the bag is a solid mass of
soil held together by roots. You can keep the bag for next year if you
think it'll hold up, or remove the plastic, chop the soil and roots up
and use it for planting mix next year in a more conventional planter.
One thing to think about with balcony gardening... try not to put much weight
on the outer edge of the balcony unless yours is well braced. At least here
in the US, skinny little apartment balconies tend to be designed with the
thought that they'll hold a charcoal grill and a few 8-12" flower pots and
one person. When you put a lot of heavy, wet soil out on the edge of a
balcony, you may be loading it more than it was designed for. Or as my DH
the engineer says, "Any fool can build a bridge that will stand up. Takes
an engineer to build one that will barely stand up." <g> Substitute
balcony for bridge and you've got the issue with modern US building codes
in some places....
Be careful that you don't put too much weight on the balcony. A large
flowerpot with potting mix doesn't really weigh much. But if you water
that pot, the wet mix can become quite heavy. "A pint's a pound the
world around." As I recall, a liter of water is a kilogram. You can
distribute the weight by placing the containers on boards. But you
still have to consider the total weight on the overall balcony. The
manager of your complex should be able to advise you on this.
Once the weight issue is addressed, you can consider what to plant.
This involves the exposure (morning, noon, or afternoon sun or no sun at
all), wind (if your flat is on an upper floor), and other climate
issues. Of course, many plants don't really care.
My mother grew tomatoes, bell peppers, asparagus, and herbs in pots on
her balcony with only mid-day and early afternoon sun in a coastal area
of southern California (generally cool to mild, sheltered from wind).
She also had epiphyllum (orchid cactus), schlumbergera (Chrismas
cactus), aloe vera, and various kalanchoe. She kept the soil moist but
never wet (thus reducing the weight). However, her balcony was so
filled with pots that -- for people -- there was standing room only. I
was always concerned that the balcony would someday crash into the alley
below, but it never did.
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
The biggest problem is drying out as such areas are often very exposed to
sun and wind. Often they are concrete which also holds the heat during
summer. Use larger tubs or troughs as they will dry out less between
watering than small pots. Square or rectangular ones take less space than
round and don't leave so many gaps for snails, vermin etc. You don't say if
you own or rent but with tubs etc you can take them with you when you go.
You can start with one tub if time or money are short. Drop hints that you
need housewarming presents! Here are some ideas for plants that will give
you a good return on investment.
- hardy small shrubs suited to the climate, keep them for years, those with
interesting forms and leaves may be better in the long run than those with
- annual flowers, a splash of colour, generally in the warmer months, try
different sorts, can be underplanted round your shrubs
- cooking herbs, useful and can look quite decorative as well, smell nice
when you brush against them, can be underplanted round your shrubs too
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