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Balcony or Terrace Garden. Do it in 5 simple steps

If you live in an urban setting and don't have access to land, by following these steps, you can create a garden on the balcony easily.

by BioGrow

If you live in an urban setting and, as is likely, you don’t have access to land or even a small garden, don’t give up on your passion for organic cultivation. In this article, we want to explain to you How to create a garden on the terrace or how to create a garden on the balcony using effective but straightforward techniques. To do this, you just need to follow these five simple steps.

There’s no need to have large spaces available. What matters is knowing how to manage what you have.

How to Create an Organic Garden on Your Balcony or Terrace

In this post, we will illustrate ingenious solutions for a balcony garden in very small spaces. Here’s what you need to consider first and foremost:

Evaluate the Exposure to Light

Vegetable crops need a good exposure to sunlight to develop properly. This applies to every garden, whether it’s in the countryside or on a city balcony or terrace.
If your balcony faces north, you haven’t been very lucky. This type of exposure is the worst and, in our opinion, doesn’t allow for more complex cultivation, such as tomatoes or peppers.
On the other hand, the best exposures are southwest and southeast, as they receive plenty of morning (east) or afternoon (west) light, avoiding the harsh sun during the hottest hours of the day, which could be problematic during the scorching summer months.

Other good exposures for creating a garden on your balcony or terrace are east and west, and south as well, although it may be too exposed during the hottest hours of the day, which requires attention to irrigation.

Understanding the exposure will help us wisely choose the preferred vegetable varieties.

Make the Most of the Available Space on Your Balcony

A simple premise leads us to say that not all balconies and terraces are the same, both in terms of actual size and structure. This means that not all balcony gardens are the same. There are various details that make a difference: for example, the presence of railings that allow light to pass from below, or conversely, the presence of walls that require raising the containers we choose. Various original solutions are being developed to meet different needs. For example, many people use the technique of vertical gardening in plastic bottles hung on the wall to create a garden on a balcony (but also on a small terrace).
Plants in the bottles

Vertical Garden

This technique allows you to make the best use of otherwise unused wall space, contributes to recycling those hated and bulky empty bottles, but has the limitation of only allowing small plants to be grown, such as aromatic and medicinal plants, which should never be missing on your balcony.

Gardening Tables

Another quite widespread technique, especially for those with ample space, is using gardening tables. These are real structures (usually made of wood) in which you can directly grow your organic crops or use them as a base for your cultivation.

Pots and Saucers

Balcony or terrace garden - cultivation tables

Cultivation tables

That being said, the simplest, practical, and effective solution is to use classic plastic and terracotta pots, along with their respective saucers. There are pots of all possible sizes available on the market, adaptable to the needs of your organic cultivation and, of course, your balcony.
The right choice of the pot is crucial for the successful growth of your plants. For example, if you decide to plant tomatoes, you’ll need a rectangular pot at least 40 cm deep and 30 cm wide, with a length of at least 80 cm to accommodate three plants.
On the other hand, if you want to plant basil, you’ll prefer a circular pot with a wide enough diameter, but not too deep.
In general, however, we recommend rectangular pots with at least 25 cm depth and classic window boxes. First, with this type of pot, you can plant multiple varieties in the same container. Second, with the iron handles made for this type of pot, you can further optimize the space available to you.

Choosing the Cultivation Soil

Balcony or terrace garden - Pot with expanded clay at the bottom

Pot with expanded clay at the bottom

In general, the soil is composed of different elements that combine with each other. First, water, air, and vegetal and animal microorganisms; second, the inorganic part, which influences the soil’s structure and water drainage, mainly composed of sand and clay; and finally, the organic part, namely humus or compost, which provides the nutrients for our organic crops.
Preparing a balanced soil considering the various components listed above can be a complex operation and not always feasible if you don’t have the right elements at your disposal.
To overcome this, there are so-called universal potting soils available on the market that adequately meet the needs of a domestic garden. However, you should pay attention to your purchase choices, perhaps preferring products available at specialized stores rather than buying low-quality soil at a discount store, where you might save money but compromise the quality of your organic cultivation.
In addition to soil, it is recommended to fill the bottom of your pots with expanded clay to improve soil drainage and avoid dangerous water stagnation (expanded clay is easily available online here).

What to Plant

Now, at this point, we can choose what to sow or transplant in our balcony garden. The choice should be made judiciously to make the best use of the limited spaces available. Certainly, crops that do not require large spaces to grow vigorously are preferable, such as onions or garlic, which can be planted in a not too deep pot, buried in holes about 4-5 cm apart from each other.

What to Avoid

We recommend avoiding vegetables such as pumpkin, zucchini, and melons, as even if you place them in large pots, they are unlikely to provide significant yields.

What to Plant with Some Care

As for the nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplants), you can grow them in pots while maintaining the correct distances. The pot or container must be deep enough, at least 40 cm, and the plants should be spaced at least 40-50 cm apart, or they should be cultivated in deep individual pots. For these types of crops, you will need to provide appropriate supports, such as canes.
Additionally, you need to pay attention to selecting the right varieties to cultivate. For example, if you decide to plant tomatoes, you’ll need a rectangular pot at least 40 cm deep and 30 cm wide, with a length of at least 80 cm to accommodate three plants.
On the other hand, if you want to plant basil, you’ll prefer a circular pot with a wide enough diameter, but not too deep.
In general, however, we recommend rectangular pots with at least 25 cm depth and classic window boxes. First, with this type of pot, you can plant multiple varieties in the same container. Second, with the iron handles made for this type of pot, you can further optimize the space available to you.

Taking Care of Your Balcony Garden

Finally, we have some recommendations for the care of your organic crops on the balcony. First, let’s talk about water, which is fundamental for the proper and balanced growth of plants. Never water during the hot hours of the day; prefer watering in the evening after sunset or early in the morning. Avoid water stagnation, which means watering only as much as the plant needs. If you use saucers, you can easily see if there is excess water. Water stagnation can lead to root rot and the death of your plants. Therefore, it is not necessary to water every day; touch the soil before watering, if it is sufficiently moist, postpone watering to the next day. Learn to understand how your plants grow.
As for fertilization and pest control, we will address these in subsequent posts, as the considerations we will make apply to both an open-field garden and a balcony garden. However, we emphasize that the needs for fertilization and pest control are much lower when growing plants in pots. Usually, the potting soil used already contains a good supply of organic matter, and harmful pathogens and insects are less active within the confines of a balcony compared to an open field.
Enjoy your gardening!

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