_Maybe you've always lived in a home with a backyard garden and enjoyed home grown fruit and vegetables, but circumstances have changed. Maybe your career options have now ruled you live in an apartment or high rise building but you wish you could relax and enjoy the benefits gardening would offer you.
Though you have no garden do you wish you could grow flowers, vegetables, herbs, and what about an apple tree? you do not have to miss out on the pleasures of growing your own plants. You can still eat those organic fruit and vegetables that have that unmistakable home grown taste about them and which are free of any toxic residue. By using containers you can easily grow your plants on the balcony.
First you need to consider what space is available. It is useful to start with a diagram and mark down the position of the pots and any outdoor furniture, making sure there is enough room for people to move around in the space. If floor space is limited then consider vertical gardening. This can include growing upwards with railing planters or using hanging baskets. Balcony gardening offers very flexible alternatives, because you can swap and change the containers to your heart's desire to get the look you want.
What you need to do next is take into account how much sunlight and shade your plants would be exposed to each day, and if the wind might be a problem; this will help you decide what plants would be suitable. Even if shade is a problem you still have a huge choice of plants that like those particular conditions.
When planning a balcony garden, don't let your mind be prohibitive, you can grow dwarf trees, vegetables, flowers, herbs, and it's easy to have a combination of these. How satisfied would you be, stepping out on to the balcony, taking in the view, then selecting a few home grown fruits and vegetables for your next meal on the way back into the apartment.
You are now able to select containers of any given size, shape or material to suit anyone's needs or pocket. Pots can be made of clay, metal, wood, or plastic, but other items which can be used are only limited by your imagination. Experiment with such things as old wheelbarrows, pots and pans, shoes and boots, old tires in fact anything which has adequate drainage. You may need to check your lease or agreement to see if there are any restrictions on the types of containers due to visual, safety and weight concerns.
A window box/railing planter like the Greenbo or a hanging basket can give a fantastic flowering display and can also be used for vegetables or herbs.
Before using any containers you need to make sure they are free from pests and diseases so make sure they are thoroughly clean; scrubbing them with a weak solution of bleach will do the trick. Whatever containers you decide on, be sure you have adequate drainage holes in the base; to prevent soil falling out, form a layer of broken terra cotta or gravel over the base. To allow drainage and prevent rotting, place containers on bricks or pot feet. Now position the containers and move them around till you get a pleasing effect.
Do not use garden soil in the containers as its too dense, and will probably harbor insects or contaminants; it is not suitable for balcony gardening so instead use potting soil, much safer. Add a slow release fertiliser at the time of planting, or use a water soluble fertilizer every fortnight.
Container gardening does present a challenge where watering is concerned. Pots dry out fairly quickly in the summer and will probably need watering twice a day. You need to take this into careful consideration when planning your balcony garden. Installing a tap on the balcony is an ideal solution however this may not be an alternative. For those who are out at work all day, self watering pots are the ideal solution and will help prevent your plants drying out. A watering can is another alternative. Plant saucers will be useful or the excess water may drip down onto the balcony below.
So, however small your outdoor area, you can still enjoy you own flowers, fruit and vegetables with balcony gardening.