Keys to having a garden on the balcony

Do you have a balcony and a lot of free time? Well then, don’t hesitate: go ahead and create your urban garden . Although the space you have is small, there are several edible plants that will grow luxuriously in pots, planters and even in trays.

If you can’t leave home, for whatever reason, and you would like to learn how to grow what will be the ingredients of the future healthy recipes that you will prepare, stay with us so we can tell you what you need to have a garden on your balcony.

What does it take to create an urban garden on the balcony?

You may need a seedbed if you want to sow seeds

Little thing. The fundamental thing is that you have the desire and enthusiasm to grow some plants on the balcony , but one some plants, if not ones that will serve as food. In addition, you must bear in mind that the growth rate they have is quite fast, since most are annual, that is, in just one year they germinate, grow, flower and dry. But no, don’t worry: you won’t have to wait a year to harvest them. In fact, most will be ready in 2-3 months, such as lettuce or chard.

Now, what you will also need is the following :

  • Light (or clarity): Most garden plants require a lot of light. It is not necessary for the balcony to be sunny, but it is recommended that when you go out to it there is a lot of light.
  • Seed beds : if you want to be aware of the whole process and you are going to get some seeds, as seed beds you can use milk containers or glasses of yogurt (think about washing them with water and making a hole in the base before using them), boxes of laminated cardboard (make a hole in the base), and of course flowerpots, or plastic trays (with a hole in the base).
  • Flowerpots and the like : to grow plants. If you are a handyman and you have or can get wooden planks without moving much, you can build an urban garden table and fill it with substrate to grow.
    Another option is to buy one.
  • Substrate : the universal substrate mixed with 30% perlite will work for you, but since you are going to create an urban garden it is interesting to take advantage of the substrate for urban garden that they already sell prepared.

What plants to grow in a small urban garden?

The balcony is a place characterized by being rather small; Therefore, choosing which plants to grow in your urban garden is something that you should not decide lightly. So, we are going to tell you which plants could be grown without problems in small spaces so that it is easier for you to decide:

Chard

Swiss chard is a biennial herb that germinates well at home

It is a biennial herb grown as an annual that reaches a height of about 40-50 centimeters . It can be sown in winter or spring and will be ready about 3 months after sowing. Irrigation must be moderate, avoiding excesses.

Garlic and onions

Onions can be grown in an urban garden

They are bulbous plants that are sown or planted in winter and harvested in summer. They are not very suitable for urban gardens, but if you have a large and deep pot , about 40cm in diameter for more or less the same depth, you can grow them (although yes, put a bulb for each pot). They require moderate watering.

Spinach

Spinach, herbs that can be grown in a pot

It is an annual herb that reaches 20-30 centimeters in height . It can be sown from spring to summer, and is harvested about 3 months later. Irrigation must be moderate.

Strawberry and raspberry

The strawberry plant is small, and edible

They are plants that reach a height of about 20-25 centimeters . Their ideal sowing time is in spring, and they are harvested from the middle / end of that season. They require moderate watering.

Bean

Fava beans are plants that produce edible seeds

Image – Wikimedia / Meneerke bloem

It is a herbaceous plant that reaches a meter in height . The seeds are sown in late summer (it can also be in spring) and are harvested about 4 months later. It requires moderate watering, avoiding excesses.

Pepper

Peppers grow well in pots

It is a herbaceous or shrubby plant that is grown as an annual. It can reach a height of about 40 centimeters depending on the variety. Its seeds are sown in late winter or spring and harvested from summer. It has to be watered frequently.

Arugula

Arugulae are good plants for urban gardens

It is an annual herb that reaches 25-30 centimeters in height . It is sown in winter, and can be harvested about 3 months later. It requires moderate watering.

Tomato

Tomatoes grow well in planters

Image – Wikimedia / David Besa from Sonoma, USA

It is an annual herb that grows up to a meter in height . The seedbed is made in winter or spring, and is harvested in summer. Irrigation must be abundant. In addition, it requires a stake so that the stems do not break due to the weight of the tomatoes.

How to avoid pests and diseases in the urban balcony garden?

The answer is as simple as it is complicated: taking good care of the plants 🙂. For that, it is important to consider the following:

Irrigation

Garden plants generally want a lot of water (except for chard, broad beans, garlic, and onions, which are probably the ones that want the least). So that there are no problems, it is advisable to check the humidity of the substrate before watering , for example by inserting a thin wooden stick or digging a bit with your fingers.

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As they are plants suitable for human consumption (they or some of their parts), organic fertilizers should be used. As such there are many: compost, mulch, herbivorous animal manure … If you can’t get any of these, don’t worry, as eggshells, wood ashes (at room temperature), natural rooters like lentils.

Transplant

Just as important as watering and fertilizing is being clear from the beginning that plants need space, some more than others. That space should be larger as they grow. For this reason, when you choose the plants for your urban garden, find out well about the size that they will have once they are adults, since they will probably require 2-3 transplants before being planted in the final pot. But how do you know? Well, if the roots come out of the drainage holes, or if you see that they have already occupied the entire container, then that will be when you should move them to larger pots.

Preventive / curative treatments

Diatomaceous earth is a natural insecticide

Diatomaceous earth

Microorganisms that cause disease and insects that become pests are always on the prowl. To protect your crops, it is advisable to carry out preventive treatments, or curative if there are already symptoms, with:

  • Neem oil : it is a natural insecticide that fights the most common pests, such as whiteflies, aphids, spider mites, thrips, or the potato beetle. 
  • Bacillus thuringiensis : it is a harmless bacteria for humans but very effective against caterpillars that feed on plants.
  • Fungicides : for fungi, like mildew or powdery mildew among others, you can use copper, sulfur or cinnamon powder.
  • Potassium soap : it is an insecticide, also natural, ideal for eliminating sucking insects such as mealybug, aphids and whiteflies. 
  • Diatomaceous earth : it is a natural insecticide that is used to repel and combat all types of insects, as well as snails and slugs. 

Have a good harvest! 🙂

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