This year I tripped on passion and fell head over heels for gardening. I found my smile in the dirt, my head in the books, and the butterflies in my stomach from the giddiness of my future, becoming a gardener. I’ve planted a couple gardens in the past – they survived, yielded, and provided me with food.
But this year is different. This year I don’t just have a balcony garden; the garden has me.
I have a decent sized backyard that’s full of weeds and dog-do-nots, but even in the utmost excitement I held back from the yard and decided to create a balcony garden.
I’ve come to really appreciate the personal qualities of this garden: the companion plants closely placed together, the vibrant colors complimenting one another, and all the different textures and scents that surround me. There’s nowhere in the world I’d rather be.
My balcony garden is often used as an experimental lab. The first experiment was to see how many veggies I could fit on the 11×6 foot, forty year old balcony. Turns out you can get quite a bit growing in a very small space if you’re creative. I know you’re supposed to start small as a beginner, but I already did that by using my balcony rather than my yard, so I had to go all out on the veggies. There was no holding back this time, and here’s what it’s holding: 2 raised beds with 17 different veggies and edible flowers, 5 herbs in pots, and 17 different seed starts.
My balcony gardening projects are just for fun, and of course good eats, but I’m quite convinced that the success of my plants is due to the petite space that is provided and some simple creative ideas for saving space. Lately, I’ve come across some really amazing people sharing innovative ways they have saved space for gardening. A couple of my favorites are: up-side-down hanging containers, self-watering containers, soda bottle hanging planters, and a vertical herb garden with a shoe organizer.
My balcony garden seems a bit tight at times when we have two chairs for my girlfriend and I, and our Dog Jasmine is on squirrel patrol, but that’s half the fun. The garden is such an intimate space that we can’t help but put our hands and noses in the soil, feel the health of the broccoli leaves, and notice every new snap pea that has sprouted. This is the place where I read, ponder, sleep on the ground next to Jasmine, eat drink better, spy on my neighbors, and have a moment of escape. Some day I would love to have an entire front and backyard dedicated to an edible landscape; purely fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flowers to bring the natural world to my home, but for now my balcony garden is a sanctuary that holds my finest treasures.