Organic container gardening might be your ticket to healthy salads, fresh veggies or fruits, and even tasty herbs. Starting a produce container garden is easy, and the rewards of your container gardening effort will last well into fall and beyond.
Pick out your Fruits, Herbs and Veggies
What would you like to grow? A container garden requires the use of plants that will thrive in a small space. Carrots, for example, are perfect; however, remember that they grow down, so a container that houses carrots need to be deep rather than wide. In contrast, tomatoes need a bit of room, so the plants require a somewhat larger container.
Buy Seeds or Starter Plants
Container gardening calls for the careful use of space; your best bet are the use of seeds or starter plants that are advertised as being compact or growing in a bush. Sprawling veggies, such as melons and pumpkins, will not do well on your balcony.
A Word on Planters
Assuming that your balcony gets a fair bit of sunlight, it is wise to opt for a light colored container made from terracotta. Dark containers tend to attract too much sunlight, which in turn might scorch tender roots. Moreover, plastic planters heat up too much, causing any stored water to likely aid in the sprouting of fungi. Terracotta is more expensive, but so much better for your organic container gardening needs. Prior to use, make sure the drainage holes are unclogged!
Add Pebbles, Soil, Water and Plants
High quality soil is available from your local big box home improvement store. The same holds true for river rock pebbles. Put a handful of pebbles on the bottom of the container, empty a bag of potting soil on top of them, and gently press down. Add the plants or seeds, and water.
Fertilizing and Pest Control
Organic container gardening thrives on compost and ladybugs. Your most common bug problem will be aphids, and ladybugs make quick work of these pests. Bigger bugs can be removed from your container vegetable garden by hand, and then relocated to other venues. Unless your balcony is on ground level, the odds are good that you will not have to worry about slugs or snails.
Maintaining the Container Garden
Your biggest challenge will be keeping the soil moist – not sopping wet! – and preventing it from drying out. Depending on your balcony’s sun exposure, this might be easier said than done. If you don’t think you can keep up with the veggies’ water needs, consider adding a self watering device which might let you off the hook on an especially dry Saturday when you are out of town.