Many of us would love to join the new movement in home food production, but we lack the space. It’s one thing to convert a suburban lawn into an edible landscape, but what if all the outdoor space we have available is an apartment balcony? What could we possibly grow there?
Well, the great news is that there are plenty of foods that would happily grow on balconies. In fact, in just ten or twenty square feet, it’s possible to provide fresh food for the table on a daily basis. Part of the trick is picking the right plants.
Balconies aren’t going to be the place for growing corn, wheat or soy. They might not be perfect for a huge potato crop. But, there are some plants that’ll thrive in the compact balcony setting and provide healthy, organic food in return.
Blueberries like really acidic soil, more so than most plants, which can sometimes make them a challenge to grow in a normal garden setting. When in pots, however, it’s easier to control the pH level of the soil and, in turn, create the right environment for blueberries to thrive. Plus, there are many varieties of blueberry bushes, some of which are well-suited for small spaces, like balconies.
Strawberries do really well in containers, and they even seem to work in hanging baskets. This quality makes them great candidates for vertical gardening, using the upward space rather than having them take up valuable square footage. There are several varieties of strawberries, some that produce in abundance at a particular time of year and others that give fruit throughout the year, some that thrive in heat and others with a chill. Choose what works.
Iceberg lettuce, save for wedge salads, has become less fashionable in recent decades, and that’s largely because loose-leaf lettuces and microgreens are so tasty and nutritious. Plus, leaf lettuces (as opposed to head lettuces) grow happily in containers and can be harvested from as they grow. They’ll continue to put out more and more greens. Again, there are many varieties to choose from, and they don’t need much space or soil to grow.
While balconies aren’t known for having incredible floor space for growing food, what’s often forgotten is that there is an entire ceiling being left bare. Instead, it can be used to grow grapes. A grape vine just needs a bit of space on the floor, and it will happily grow upwards and produce fruit above everything else. And, don’t forget that the leaves can be stuffed and eaten as well.
It doesn’t take many tomato plants to provide a lot of food, and homegrown tomatoes are far superior than the hydroponic, hothouse stuff found in supermarkets. The vines can be trained up balcony railings, where the sun is more plentiful. Smaller, grape tomatoes are particularly good for balconies because the plants are a bit smaller and they can be harvested from a tad more regularly.
6. Hot Peppers
On a nice, sunny balcony, pepper plants are absolutely a possibility. And, rather than focusing on bell peppers, it’s fun to look into spicy peppers, like habaneros. Some hot peppers grow perennially, and generally, we get much more mileage out of moderate production from them. One plant might be enough to keep a household in homemade hot sauce.
7. Fresh Herbs
Though they aren’t necessarily stomach-fillers, fresh herbs are fantastic ingredients for adding flavorful and healthful qualities to our meals. Plus, they work really well in containers, sitting on a shelf or hanging out by a window. They can really add diversity to a balcony garden, and they are usually good for pest control and attracting pollinators.
Great for adding some colorful (and edible flowers), as well as distracting aphids away from those tomatoes, nasturtium is an easy-growing addition to the garden. These plants are generally tough and actually prefer being ignored a bit, meaning they are low-maintenance. Furthermore, they are entirely edible: leaves, flowers, and seeds. That’s hard to beat.
Filling a patio with food is a fantastic idea. It’s much more exciting than a barren environ or some forgotten plastic chairs. Plus, with the right plants, we can really add some special items to our daily diet.
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