Monday, May 28, 2012
Urban Gardening: Tiny Balcony Garden
Currently we have a small balcony that we make the most of. We have two $7 camping chairs (one for me, one for jb), a $3 toddler plastic chair (for Leo) and a $10 camping table - all of which I got on sale and lugged home from the pharmacy nearby. Not the fanciest set up, but I don't mind leaving them out in the elements and it makes it possible for us all to sit and enjoy a meal (or a snack) outside. Add the charcoal grill we got on freecycle and we are able to enjoy our spring and summer evenings outside with just a small amount of sq. footage.
If we ever end up in a big city brownstone/rowhouse with a sprawling yard the first thing I'd do is build some phenomenal raised beds and plant a big garden that we could get fresh food from all summer long. Unfortunately, that's not in the cards right now. The best we can do is a small container garden. I'm not a very good gardener, but I learn a little more each year - and even if we don't end up with a fruitful crop, I think it's worth it allow Leo (and soon bug) to observe the growth and nurturing of a plant from seed/seedling to edible leaves/fruit/veggies.
We've managed to get a pretty good variety of plants into our small space, and we will note which ones do best in smaller containers - because we don't have the room to go much bigger! Here is a rundown of what we've planted this season:
1. Cherry Tomatoes - in the hanging basket in the top left corner of this picture. These plants are supposed to be really good producers and do really well in hanging baskets.
2. Cucumbers - first year doing this plant. I'm worried there just isn't enough space - but if we do get some we will eat them with gusto.
3. Spearmint - great for the summer rolls we eat often in hotter weather and for adding a couple leaves to lemonade.
4. Rosemary - I like to use sprigs of this in a rosemary chicken recipe with a side of roasted potatoes and asparagus.
5. Mini Eggplant - these are a first also, and I have the same worries about them being a bit ambitious for the space.
6. Strawberries - We've had good luck with these in the past - and even if we only get a handful of fruits I think this will impress Leo the most. There's nothing like eating ripe fruit right off the plant!
7. Blueberry Bushes - These are the largest containers we have (on the sides of the rack) and everything I've read says these plants are finicky and need a lot more space. Still, I figured we could give them a shot and the little white flowers are already turning into little green berries.
8. Thyme - I've never used thyme much - any suggestions?
9. Chives - A little onion flavor for soups, eggs, or salads.
10. Mini Bell Peppers - I'm hoping these have a good flavor and we can use them in salads.
11. Lavender - Great in lemonade, iced tea and just to fragrance the home.
12. Dill - a little yogurt, lemon juice, salt and some sliced cucumbers (from the store if our plant doesn't make it) - yum.
13. Basil - I already over-pruned this poor plant. I hope it bounces back. I should get a few more either way because we go through basil quickly - and LOVE making fresh pesto.
That's a lot of garden for such a small space. I'll update later in the season to let you know exactly how much has survived and what we've been been able to use in summer dishes. Have you had luck with edible plants in small containers? I'd love to hear what low-space high-yield plants people have been growing!