balcony gardening

(Question)

I have recovered my health and would like to start using my small balcony space with railings next year to grow vegetables/flowers. I plan to spend the fall/winter reading about how to do this as I have never had a garden of any kind before and I really will be a newbie.
Can you recommend any books/other sources I can read?
Thanks, Sharon (Toronto refugee living in Halifax)

(Answer)

Balcony container gardening is very popular, and there are hundreds of resources for you to review.  Lots of winter reading!

Just a couple of things to keep in mind with balconies & terraces:

  • Check with your Property Manager or Condominium Association prior to installing planters or window boxes.  There may be site specific regulations.
  • Remember that vegetables all have their minimum soil depth requirements (ie carrots will need deeper containers than lettuce).
  • Are you planning on using only railing planters or do you have room for larger floor containers?
  • What is the orientation (n/s/e/w) of the balcony?  Does it get hot sun? windy?  Small railing planters will dry out very quickly.
  • Drainage: where does the water run off?  is there a balcony below you?  Perhaps free-standing containers make more sense than railing.  Make sure you have a way of containing the water, such as saucers.
  • Start small.  If this is your first venture into gardening, take your time.   You can always add but may get discouraged if you take on more than you can handle.
  • Start with easy-to-grow,  tried & true plants/veggies/herbs.
  • Plan the planting!  Figure out how much space you have and the size of containers.  Measure the space and draw it out to scale.  That way you know what size of containers you need and how much room you will have to sit and enjoy the space.

Experimenting is always lots of fun!  If one thing doesn’t work, try something else next year.  Check out your local bookstore, community garden club or start at the library sourcing books on balcony gardening.  There is a plethora of knowledge out there.  Happy reading!