Most of the balconies are homes to stinky shoes, colour-faded chairs, brooms, and likewise. Imagine turning this space into an oasis of aroma with colourful balcony planters filling the air with oodles of positivity.
And no, you neither need a green thumb nor an entire garden to create a patch of art if you have vegetables to grow in your balcony. You only need a heart that wants to experience unbridled satisfaction, seeing flowers, vegetables, fruits, and herbs cascading around your balcony railings.
Excited to have your own little green space? We have tips to help you get a lot more comfortable and confident so you have a success story of your own.
Tips To Start A Balcony Kitchen Garden With Ease
1. Zero In On The Right Location
Starting a kitchen garden doesn’t mean it has to be right next to your kitchen. It can be anywhere. However, a few things need to be taken into consideration to have a bountiful harvest. Let’s find out what these are:
- Sunlight Requirements: You’ll need a full 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight for most of the vegetables that you plan to grow in your balcony. These include tomatoes, gourds, squashes, carrots, cauliflowers, beets, and okra among others. Balconies getting 3 hours of sunlight (or less) are full shade balconies and promote the growth of herbs, salad greens, and microgreens. Based on the vegetables you want to grow, you’ll have to choose an area that suits best for your veggies, herbs, and fruits.
- Water Requirements: Choose a location that is close to a water source. Since the watering of plants plays a crucial role in having a flourishing kitchen garden, you’ll need to pay a tad bit more attention to this. Snaking through rooms with buckets full of water can affect your eagerness in the long run. This is because you’ll have to water your vegetable plants every day. But then again, the love for gardening has made gardeners move mountains in the past. While it’s totally subjective, we thought we’ll point this out anyway. In any case, keep your kitchen garden hydrated by evenly watering the vegetable plants. Watering after a dried spell of thirst can pose problems for your fruits and vegetables.
2. Choose The Right Soil Mix
Remember, the soil you choose will be the ‘make it all or break it all’ factor for your balcony garden. There’s a reason why there’s such an intense focus on having the plant bed right.
You can either pick the soil mix that decorates the shelves in shops or make one of your own. It’s easy and oh, the pleasure! Get some soil (it’s easily available at nurseries) and mix it with compost or manure and cocopeat. Your soil mix is ready! You’ll have to add fertilizers or compost to your soil every month though.
Thumb Rule: 1:1:1 ratio of compost, cocopeat and garden soil is a standard mix.
Soil Type: There’s a difference between the garden soil you choose for vegetables in containers and vegetables growing in the backyard. For your balcony garden, make sure the soil isn’t too hard. It should be porous enough for proper drainage. Also, if you plan to grow your kitchen garden in porous pots of terra cotta, it absorbs more so will need more compost and water-retaining medium.
Organic Fertilizers: Organic fertilizers are needed to make the soil healthy so they can yield a healthier kitchen garden. There are majorly three types of organic fertilizers: Dry, Liquid, & Growth Enhancers. They enrich the soil, giving greener, richer vegetable plants and fruits. We have a guide that shares everything you’d want to know about organic fertilizers, including the fertilizers you can easily spot around you.
Potting Mix: If you’re growing vegetables in pots on the balcony, you’ll need a potting mix to keep them healthy. Usually, the potting mix will have the vegetable plant food in the form of compost or other organic matter. So you won’t have to do much, including adding fertilizers for months at a stretch! However, if you plan to reuse your potting soil next year or if the plants aren’t flourishing, you can add a water-soluble fertilizer. It’s the perfect nutrient for the soil. Again, make sure you don’t overdo it; else the plant growth will be hampered. Balance is the key.
3. Evaluate Your Container Choice
Any balcony planter you go ahead with should have drain holes to ensure a joyous and healthy growth for plants. If there isn’t, make one yourself. You could choose one of the many types of containers listed below
Terra Cotta Pots: These are the cheapest and will offer a raw look to your balcony interiors. Many go ahead and paint their hearts out on them to give a creative touch. You can unleash the artist within you too! However, it’s important to know that terra cotta pots release more moisture when placed in direct sunlight so you’ll have to water your vegetable plants more frequently to avoid the soil from drying.
Grow Bags: Grow bags are a trending container choice among plant lovers as their breathable fabric releases excessive heat during summers. They are good with drainage as they do not store extra water, preventing root rot and overcrowding. Apart from this, the small holes in the fabric allow air-pruning which is a natural process that helps dried roots having enough air around them to fall off on their own (prune). This helps in creating larger root zones and bigger plants.
Plastic Containers: If you want to add colours to your balcony garden, go ahead with these. The colours they are available in are poetic and will make your kitchen garden a rejuvenating place to spend time at. Again, you must know that plastic containers attract and store heat when placed in direct sunlight. This might lead to premature wilting so you’ll have to take care of the same. These pots are also prone to fading when kept in the sun and if their quality isn’t too great, they will easily chip and crack.
4. Choose The Right Size For Your Containers
Containers that are too small will stunt the vegetable’s growth. Make sure your pots are large enough for the vegetables and herbs you wish to grow in your kitchen garden so they can promote the growth of strong roots. Learn about growing in containers.
If you plan to grow tomatoes, you will require medium-sized pots that can hold at least 6-7 KGs of soil and for summer squashes, you’ll need larger pots that can hold about 16 to 18 KGs of soil. If you plan to grow capsicum, okra, beans, or brinjals, medium-sized pots that are about 15″-18″ will work.
5. Be Careful With The Variety You Choose For Plants
If you have space constraints, go for plant varieties that won’t grow too big. The seed packets have almost everything mentioned. Check if they are suitable to be grown in pots. If you have less floor space, use a trellis so your plants can grow vertically or wrap the balcony railing. Also, consider growing vegetables by season for optimum produce.
Explore seed varieties to grow in your balcony kitchen garden
6. Consider Growing Your Garden Vertically
If you wish to have a magnanimous balcony kitchen garden but have limited space, vertical gardening is the perfect technique you can put to use. You can either have shelves, hanging baskets, containers, or trellis to grow your garden vertically. This will help you make optimal use of the constrained space you have. To know more about the benefits, types, and vegetables you can grow, we have a complete guide on vertical gardening that is sure to help you by leaps and bounds.
Well, that's it!
This is all you’ll need to start with your own balcony garden. Easy-breezy, right?
C’mon then, start with your therapeutic sessions by buying seed kits and setting up the entire garden in your balcony. Good luck, growing happiness!