Pros of Growing a Balcony Garden

  • Potentially save on your produce grocery bill (that is, if your plants actually yield fruit)
  • No worms!  No centipedes!  No major pests like what you would deal with in a backyard (ladybugs, squirrels, groundhogs, and the like)
  • It’s relaxing and makes a nice scenery while enjoying your Sunday brunch on your balcony
  • It’s good exercise
  • It is (or at least should be) cheap to do – biggest bang for your buck
  • Being able to run out to your balcony, snip off whatever you need (green onion, rosemary, thyme or tomato) and immediately incorporate it into whatever it is you are making in the kitchen.  It’s like having a produce section steps away from your kitchen.

Cons of Growing a Balcony Garden

  • You must buy your own soil because you do not have any earth (you don’t realize how much you take free soil in the earth for granted until you want to start your own garden on your balcony)
  • Lack of sunlight (but some plants still thrive in such conditions)
  • Lack of pollination (you won’t get a lot of bees, so you may have to pollinate your zucchini and squash flowers by yourself)
  • Lack of natural hydration (the rain does catch the plants, so you have to be particularly vigilant about watering)
  • Pigeons (and their poo)

A word on pigeons: Would you believe that I’ve lived here for years and never saw a pigeon on my balcony and the one time that I decide to use my balcony and plant something, pigeons wanna swarm my balcony and use it as a restroom?  Dem facety heh? (They are rude right?).  After reading up on what to do online, I tied old CDs with string to stakes and I went back to my hotspot – Dollarama – and purchased a fake owl.  It worked for a while, and I did rotate the owl from place to place, but I think the pigeons have caught on.  One day I was in my living room and I heard cooing and I was like, “Say word the pigeon is back on my balcony.”  Usually it was just one pigeon, but now he’s brought a friend.   While I can totally relate to the desire of wanting a comfortable place to go poo, must they do it beside my tomatoes?  Like really.  I can imagine the dialogue:  “Hey!  I know a good place where we can poo beside tomato plants.  Come.  I’ll show you.”  I’ve just resigned myself to shooing them away and re-arranging the fake owl ever so often.  I haven’t spotted any more poo for a while now (knock on wood), but they still like to visit my garden paradise.  These birds are brave.

my numerous attempts of care and showering them with love and attention, have failed to produce fruit.  Of all of the seeds that I planted, this year I will be getting two short, deformed carrots and maybe 10 – 15 tomatoes (though they are kinda small in size).  No zucchini, no cucumber, no cherry tomatoes, no butternut squash, no spinach, no bell peppers…yeah.  The herbs are still doing well though.  Next time (if there is a next time) I will stick to growing herbs and tomatoes and replanting green onion.  Just herbs and tomatoes and green onion.

Full Gardening Dos and Dont

So this year I started my very first full garden. I planted a little bit of everything: tomatoes, herbs, cucumber, carrots, onions and more. I was so excited. I researched a lot about when to plant and what to plant together. My husband and I even expanded the garden area and added about 4 inches of soil to bring up the level of the garden. Everything was doing so well in the beginning, but at the end of June I noticed my plants were not producing much fruit and they were not very green at all.. I was so so annoyed. I felt like I had done everything right by my plants, so what in the world was the problem. It only took a little while for me to recognize the two major areas were I went wrong. Please do not make the mistakes I did, they are easy to avoid and I’m sure most of you might know these but I did not.

1. Mosquito spray kills pollinators

So My husband and I have been spraying our yard since we moved into this house. It’s like second nature. So we went ahead and sprayed our yard with out evening know it would affect my garden. Let me tell you it definitely did. The spray killed all the pollinators too! I was so upset when I found this out, so now I have been trying to hand pollinate some of my veggies and it is not something I want to do. The beautiful thing about nature is how to all works together so well, but we unknowingly interrupted that process. My garden paid the price. The good news is that I saw a bee in my garden just yesterday, so fingers crossed they come back and help me pollinate. I am definitely getting a bee house to hopefully encourage then to come back as well.

2. I did not test my soil

So for most people this might not be a problem, but it was for me. I did not test my soil or liquid lawn fertilizer before planting to see if it was going to be able to support veggie life. Unfortunately for me it does not support it very well. I should have know because it took us two years to grow the grass in our front yard, (there wasn’t any when we moved in). We have seeded that yard probably eight or more times now. Plus I found out recently that we have mostly clay soil, and by that I mean hard, thick, solid clay for soil. There is a little layer of regular soil about 8 to 10 inches on top but then all clay. So, there is nothing for my poor plants to pull nutrients from, because of this revelations I went out and bought some feed for my plants and it has only been 8 days but they are bouncing back already.. They are greener and are growing again. I was so worried that all my hard work was going to be for nothing ,but it is turning around and I couldn’t be happier.

Final Thoughts

These mistakes really set back my garden a bit this year, but now that I know I can do better next year. I hope you can learn from my mistakes and avoid these problems in your garden.