1. Can I take some dried white beans and just plant them in containers on my balcony and will they produce bean plants? I am just interested it doing it for decoration.
2. I have just put some basil in a trough on my balcony and want to make sure they remain healthy. Do I need to add compost and how often do I need to water them. I don’t want to kill them off by doing the wrong thing.
1/ Since the source of your dried white beans is unknown you should test them first to see if they are viable. Soak a few in water for several minutes then put them onto a damp paper towel and fold it over. Keep the towel damp, by splashing water on it as necessary, and in 2-3 days take a peek at the beans. If there are little sprouts poking out of a split in the beans its a good sign that they are healthy and you can go ahead and plant them. If they fail to sprout within a week then they are no good for planting and you need to get more beans from another source.
When you have determined that the beans are viable plant them in containers at least 5″ in diameter. Plant them about 1″ deep with the “eye” side down. Keep the soil moist while the beans are germinating and do not let the pots dry out. Its important that your pots have good drainage and that they are placed in a sunny location. Bean plants also like good air circulation so its best not to put them close together. Once the plant is established, water once per week or more frequently in really hot dry weather.
2/ Basil plants are fairly easy to grow. The most important thing to consider is location. Basil needs 6+ hours of sunlight a day and likes a warm climate of around 21C. It does not tolerate temperatures below 10C. Good drainage is crucial. Basil does best in soil combined with compost and prefers a neutral pH range. Its not really necessary to fertilize. In hot dry periods water frequently at the base of the plant and not on the leaves. Do not let the soil dry out completely. Pinch the tip of the plant to force side growth and to prevent early flowering, which signals the end of the plants life. If you follow these instructions you should have plenty of basil throughout the summer and into Fall.
For further reading go to: Container Vegetable Gardening