I cleaned out last year’s balcony garden at the beginning of December and created a birdwatching station for the winter. It was nice to get to know the little song birds in the area. But then some of the bigger and messier birds started hanging out on our balcony so I ended up putting out far less birdfood and tried to find a food that the tiny birds liked and the big birds didn’t. Fat chance. The big birds like everything.
I’ve been excited to get started with this year’s garden since the first nice day a few months back, but I’ve been waiting until it’s really safe to plant. When using containers I think it make sense to wait a little longer because the plants have a lot less insulation than the ones that are planted in the ground. I never start with totally a clear balcony plan. The plan kind of cooks in my brain as I anticipate the weather getting warm enough to start and then even after I get things started, I get new ideas and incorporate them throughout the season.
I dream of being savvy enough to have a whole ornamental/edible vegetable garden on our balcony–Building shelves with pallet wood and stringing beans across the clothes line, but it’s not that realistic in our space and we don’t actually have a clothes line. Last year I grew tomatoes but found that I really needed at least a few more plants and a lot more space to get a worthwhile yield. This year I contemplated growing pole beans, but ended up scrapping the vegetable idea altogether when I considered how often we will be traveling.
So I had the following ideas as a framework when I got started thinking about which plants to buy:
-size constraints- The balcony is relatively large, about 12 feet x 6 feet but that is really a guess. We have a rather large lounge that takes up about 1/2 the space. we also have a small table and chairs and a small grill.
-pots I already have (5 long hanging pots) 1 large upright, 1 smaller upright, and a terra cotta basket.
Previously I had rock garden succulents planted in the terra cotta basket. The hens and chicks I had there had really come into their own as the weather started to warm up, but I had aways envisioned flowers spilling over the edges of the basket, so I decided on Million Bells for the basket and then split up the hens and chicks, transplanting them to other pots.
I went conservative on the herbs to start. My Rosemary from last year over-wintered quite well. My lavender not so well but it’s not dead yet. I bought a beautiful thyme and a new basil, some chives and some parsley. For now that’s enough, I might look for an Oregano. I really like the creeping, weeping one, but I haven’t seen it here. I was happy to find a lantana. Last year I looked to no avail but this year I grabbed it up as soon as I saw it.
I went with wave petunias for the balcony’s edge because I wasn’t satisfied last year with how they did. I’ve seen brilliant displays of petunias here and I wanted to give it another shot. I’ve been told that you have to really fertilize to achieve this look. I never fertilized at all last year because I didn’t know how to ask for fertilizer at the plant store. With another year under my belt I now know (Dünger) and have already purchased it! So I have three hanging pots filled with petunias and fertilizer and we’ll see what happens.
My next purchase will be a mandevilla. I’ve always wanted one and we have a support pole that should be a great place for it to grow. I’ll keep you posted.