It’s fun, it’s healthy, and, let’s face it, it’s just cooler to walk onto your balcony and grab an extra handful of cilantro for your homemade guac.
Growing your own fruits and vegetables in a tiny outdoor space or balcony might initially seem impossible, but it’s totally doable. According to Déva Presence of Permaculture Miami, as long as you have access to sunlight (and really, here in Miami we have more than our fair share), a watering system, potting soil, and good fertilizer, you can grow your own dinner. All it takes is a little TLC for that green thumb to appear. And even with a small space, there’s plenty of options. But first, “Know your plants!” says Presence.
Ranging from 3 feet to 8 feet tall, vertical gardens let you pack a whole lot of green in a very small footprint. This is a cool DIY project, but you can also buy one online if you want to jump right into gardening. These work great in even the tiniest balcony, or even right next to your door. All you need is a patch of sunshine to get growing.
Depending on the tower you choose to buy or build, they can even collect their own rainwater. Many models have a basin at the top to catch the rain and drip it down to the heavy pot below, helping keep your plants watered. The only consideration to take into account is weight. Vertical towers work better with lighter fruits and vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, peas, and herbs.
Beautiful and practical, an arched trellis on your roof, across your balcony balcony, or in the backyard is an excellent option for growing vine fruits and vegetables. Tomatoes, melons, string beans, and squash are just a few examples of the delicious edibles that will grow happily above you.
The pros of growing veggies and fruits on a trellis are many, including better sunlight, better oxygen, and less chances of rot and pest infestation. Consider investing in some cotton slings to prevent heavy items from falling on the ground. And trellises can be as simple or as complicated as you like. There can be quite a bit of artistry to them and can involve hiring a professional, but there are also very basic trellis designs you can build yourself.
For something more small scale and easily accessible, consider building a planter box. It’s a bit like a window box, but with legs, and it’s pretty easy to build yourself. You’ll need about 3 feet of space in length and no more than 4 feet of space in height to maintain a successful box, making this perfect for balconies. The box can even be divided into sections, giving you the opportunity to grow more than one variety of plant. Especially good for lettuce, herbs, and other light, above-ground edibles.
This is actually trickier than people think. Be careful when choosing the proper containers, as many don’t actually provide enough drainage or space for the plant to live comfortably. If you do, however, fall in love with a particular pot that doesn’t have enough drainage, it is possible to drill more holes to accommodate. Also consider things around your house — buckets and coffee tins can work just as well. The minimum size of your pot should be 3 gallons to ensure plants have room to grow.
Getting the right amount of moisture in the soil is especially important with containers, as they can dry up fast. Help keep your plant friends hydrated using a recycled glass or plastic bottle. Fill it with water and stick the nose into the soil to provide your plants with slow, steady watering throughout the day.
If you aren’t sure what to plant, there are local experts to help you decide, such as the team at UrbanGro. Generally, vegetables such as peppers, onions, eggplant, and cucumbers all grow successfully in containers.
Keep those veggies safe
Some plants need protection from heavy rains. Don’t forget water shield to shield your plants from storms and shade cloths to protect against too much of that tropical sun.
If you want to keep those fruits and veggies organic, organic planting soil and fertilizer are widely available. You can also buy natural insect-fighting sprays, or even better make them yourself.
Your garden can be your friend. So treat your plants with care, keep them pruned and watch them closely to see how they’re responding to different elements, such as light and water levels. Treat them well and they’ll reward you with a bountiful harvest.