The core issue here is the limited space, almost everything, from the space to the containers to the tools are smaller than the common backyard garden. This will affect the other key issues such as what to plant (smaller varieties), where to plant (pots, boxes, and walls), and when to plant (succession or rotation planting). Here we will use a balcony garden as an example because it is smaller than a patio and larger than most interior spaces.
Review the Goals, Objectives and Dreams
Is your objective maximum production of veggies, beautiful flowers, or unique plants that are interesting to grow and talk about? What you want to plant will determine the amount of space it will take, where and when to plant it, and if a special soil is required (i.e. acid mix).
SPACE – use it well and explore options to increase growing space.
VERTICAL GARDENING – A great way to quickly and easily add growing space is to implement some vertical garden elements. Planting vertically, in addition to the usual ground level plane, opens up many more options. Now we are working in three dimensions. In our balcony example a wall planter at one end might expand the growing space by 17 sq. ft. and provide some extra privacy.
You could also include a planter shelf, rack, or box against a wall or a raised planter box with a shelf for pots along a railing.
We will probably dedicate a blog post to “Vertical Gardening” in the near future, but we have some planning to do in this early part of the growing season. As you decide whether to plant in planter boxes or pots, keep in mind that they each have advantages, such as, an advantage of planting in pots is that they can be moved around and re-arranged as they mature, while an advantage of planting in boxes is an increase in planting area and ease of watering.
PLANT SELECTION – Experimenting with dwarf varieties of plants can be interesting and fun. For example, there are dwarf pepper plants that produce yellow, green and red peppers.
TIMING – A simple approach is to plant at the pace that you use each item. If two bunches of greens are used each week then plant two or three bunches of greens each week. One each of spinach, collards, and chard will do the trick.
Hint: a soil blocker will make this much easier. With a Soil Blocker, you can plant a row of blocks each week or two and roll through the summer. Just skip the mess with all of the plastic pots, etc.
It might also help to plant the larger and longer to mature plants in the back so you don’t need to work over them to get to the small ones.
Reminder to use Premium Soil
An integral part of each of these options is good soil. If you are looking for a simple change that will make a significant difference for the plants and the gardener, then using premium soils (preferably with organic ingredients for the food crops) will give the plants a good start, require less fertilizer, and produce better results.
Another benefit of planting in premium soil is that it is easy to work with so you can plant and trans-plant, as the season progresses, into small areas without disturbing the roots of neighboring plants.
We invite you to look around our web site for ideas and products. www.greenplanetnaturals.com
In our next blog we will discuss Planting the Seeds.