Here are some of my best tips for growing max vegetables in small balcony space and such.
If horizontal space is limited, don’t just think of how much you can put on the floor. Look up the walls, up grills. Think vertical. There are many possibilities. This photo below shows three different vertical systems on just one wall.
The first is a modular system you can buy. The pots can be put on the frame and taken off easily and I keep changing them depending on what needs the growing room. I’ve put two sets of these panels perpendicular to each other to conceal a drainage pipe going thrrough the balcony. You can see that more clearly in this photo.
The three pots on the bottom left are the result of a little half bottle with some sprigs of mint stuck in. Once they needed more room, I gave them more room. If some day I decide I don’t need so much mint, I’ll take out a pot or two or if I need more, I might move the whole thing to a larger tub to spread out and grow. On the right is lemongrass. Now here’s the thing. Above the lemongrass and mint are tomato seedlings! They have outgrown their seedling trays and are perfect for using this size of pot for a while before being planted into something more permanent.
Improvised vertical gardens
The second is a vertical system made of old 2 liter cold drink bottles. Selling them won’t get any money and even recycling wastes resources to transport and process. Why not use them right here at home?
So, a vertical planter doesn’t have to be this premediated, permanent thing that you plant and maintain for a long time. You can use it as an intrmediate pot for a plant growing its way to a larger pot too. Next month, those pots will have something else in them.
It doesn’t even have to be proper materials. I put this together by tying/stitching up some tarpaulin sheet like material pieces with plastic string. It didn’t last long. Once the plants growing in it were done, I had to trash it too.
Remixed vertical gardens?
The third in that top photo is a hard plastic net I’ve suspended down the wall. I hook any kind of a pot I wish onto it. Right now it is a set of rectangular planters. On another wall, I’ve suspended pots and entire trays for my carnivorous plants from hooks on the wall.
Sometimes you don’t have a wall to hang things on. So you can stack pots up.
These sets of stackable plant containers are found commercially for purchase, but you can really stack anything as long as it will stay stacked.
And of course, you can just send cucumbers and other vining plants up the grill…
This has the added advantage of screening the windows from direct sunlight and helping keep the home cooler in summer.
If I planted all this in pots spread on the floor, I wouldn’t have room to grow anything else! But this balcony faces east and the wall gets great light all morning and is bright all day. So why not…
Container sizes matter
In the photo above, I’ve cut a half liter mineral water bottle to make a cup (it was cracked). I put some sphagnum moss into it and stuck some sprigs of mint I’d got from the market. They rooted. I gave several of them around and planted these remaining ones, pinching them back and taking further cuttings from those that grew long till they filled the three bottom containers in the photo with the black vertical garden pots.
Plants grow best when their roots have adequate space. However, when you don’t have a lot of space, it can get tricky to provide plants all the space they need. I have found that this is possible to manage with careful timing and a little extra effort by potting up plants as they grow instead of directly planting them in large pots. This works very well with plants like tomatoes and capsicum, less well with fast growing plants like cucumber. Keeping the smaller pots off the floor allows me to use the space on the floor for the big containers for cucumbers, tomatoes, sweetcorn, okra…