How to Start An Urban Garden on Your Balcony



With COVID-19, we all have to be at home for a long period of time. I don't know about you, but I am missing the gardens, the parks, the greenery… Living in a flat with a small terrace, I got to start planting and enjoying the results. I learn a thing or two of urban gardening that I would like to share with you. Also, nothing beats the taste of your first homegrown produce!


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So, what do you need?



We can go from a small corner in a balcony or even in your kitchen countertop to a whole roof if your house has access to one. Depending on the space and the longevity of your gardening project, you will select the rest of the materials needed. If you don't have much space but want to maximize the number of pots and plants, you might consider going up the walls. There are some really cool vertical gardens out there, but you don't need something super sophisticated. All you need is some shelves and some hooks to hang some pots, and you can pretty much surround yourself with greenery.



If you have limited space, then you can go with pots or planters. If you are thinking long term and have a big enough space, go for raised beds. They look amazing, are easy to work on, and allow for bigger plants and even some trees! Please remember that we will need to water the plants, so make sure your floor is waterproof, especially if starting your urban garden on a roof. If the weather gets very extreme, consider the possibility to move the plants indoors and use pots. In my case, I live in Dubai, so summer gets extremely hot. You perhaps live in an area where winter is the issue.

It is fine if you don't have pots and don't want to invest in starting the garden, because we can recycle some containers and give them a second chance in life. For example, to start the plants from seeds, you might not need a big pot with lots of soil. You can use an empty egg box with some cotton buds o a small amount of soil. And once the seeds are starting to grow, transfer them to a big, more permanent container. That container can also be part of your recycling efforts. You can use the bottom of plastic bottles, for example. Just make a small hole at the bottom and add a stone to make sure the water can drain, but the soil remain in your recycled pot.

For a creative and hands-on person, you might want to paint the exterior of the containers. If you are more science-curious, you might prefer to keep it transparent to see how the roots grow.



You will need some soil to grow your plants. I started composting during the quarantine, and now my pots are full of nutrients. Consider that if you want to improve your soil without pesticides, and almost at no cost. If you have a terrace, there are some Bokashi compost maker and also another one called the Gobbler. This is a great way to put to good use all that organic waste and rethink how nature is all about circularity.



I decided I wanted to plant vegetables, but you might prefer flowers or fruits. I have a toddler at home, and I thought of it as an interactive experiment for her to learn where food comes from. So, we dried tomato seeds, peppers and keep the stems of lettuce, chicory, and leeks. So now I treat leafy vegetables as flowers! When they come home, I get them in a little pot with a little water. This way, they last longer, and when we have removed the leaves, they are ready to be planted.

Tomato and pepper required a different treatment. You remove the seeds and leave them to dry. Once dry, you can see when it is the best time to get them planted. I am not too patient, so I plant them as soon as they are dry enough, and so far, it is going well. But then again, our weather is very extreme. I suggest you plant indigenous species in your area. They thrive better and are easier to take care of. So if you live in the North Pole, don't try to grow avocados!



Growing your produce is very rewarding, even if it is only in very small quantities. It is beautiful to see the little plants grow and bloom. If you are planting flowers, the smell and their beautiful colours are a balm for our senses. Not only that, but we are also contributing to clean our air, especially if you are planting trees. So, I invite you all to start your own urban garden and share your pictures to others. And if you still have a doubt and need more information and guide how to start home gardening, you can read it here. 




 +  Words: Araceli Garcia, Luxiders Magazine Contributor