Gardening

Gardening While Renting: How My Balcony Garden Is Growing

I’m in love with my balcony garden! It has brought me so much joy this spring as I’ve been watching my plants grow–even though I’ve been making all sorts of gardening mistakes as I attempt to grow over 10 different types of plants. While I haven’t had any big harvests of veggies yet, I wanted to share the progress (and my excitement!) of my little balcony garden with you.

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balcony garden

2022 Balcony Garden Planting Update

Gardening mistakes are par for the course, and even with all of them, I’ve been having a lot of fun with my variety of plants. It is so satisfying to see the seeds sprout and then see them flourish. I’ve planted a LOT of different things this year. I’m taking a “plant them all and see what works” approach to this year’s garden. It possibly would be smarter to focus on one or two plants and learn how to make them thrive, but I’m all in doing the best I can with this lot instead.

What I Have Planted and How it’s Going

Here is a little snapshot of all the veggies, herbs, and flowers I have planted this year. It’s been such a crazy spring with respects to weather, so knowing when to plant has been a challenge, but I seem to be doing okay so far.

If you missed the beginning of my garden planning this year, you can find the post here: Gardening While Renting: New Year, New Hope, New Balcony Garden.

Kale

I’m very vocal about how I’m not big on salad or leafy greens, but when asking what are easy vegetables to grow, I’m always told lettuce and kale. Because of that, I decided to give kale another try this year. Last year my kale had a sad end, but I have such a great space this year I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

I chose to plant Kale Storm pellets from West Coast Seeds because I loved the idea of having a variety of kale to try. These particular seeds look very cool and have up to four varieties of kale per pellet. The large pellet seeds were incredibly easy to plant and pellets are supposed to be great for containers, which is what I’m growing in, so it was a perfect place to start.

I’m attempting a mini-version of succession planting where I stagger the planting of the same vegetable to have a longer harvest. I planted my first kale pellet on April 11th and my second on April 25th. I was concerned about my first plant because we had a hail storm the day after I planted my kale, but it seems to be growing okay so far.

Mint plant
Small sprouts of my mint plant

Mint

I planted my first spearmint seeds the same day as my first kale pellet, so it had to endure a hail storm as well. I actually brought my planter indoors for the worst of it because I was so worried about the cold doing harm to the seeds.

I was really surprised by how tiny mint seeds are and didn’t think through the logistics of planting them until long after I had them in the soil. After reading about how to sow tiny seeds, I realized I may have hurt my chances of growing a mint plant.

I planted a second planter with mint to try and increase my chances as I love the idea of fresh mint tea. What I am paying closer attention to now is how I water seeds after planting them. The smaller seeds need more careful watering as they are more easily disrupted by streams of water.

Peas

My peas are another one that got subjected to the hail, but as they are a colder weather plant, I was less worried about them. I had only planned on one container of peas, but I got so excited about growing them that I planted a second planter two weeks later. The idea for my peas is the same as my kale where I’m hoping to have a longer harvest. The risk with these ones, though, is that I may be pushing the plants too far into a warm season.

I chose to plant Sugar Ann Snap Peas because I didn’t think I’d need a trellis. If I had only a couple plants in the planter this might be the case, but I have a number of plants (possibly too many) and they all started attaching to each other in a clump. I separated them and added some sticks and trellis-type accessories to encourage the plants to grow upwards.

Potatoes

I was completely lost when planting potatoes, but at the same time very excited. I got myself a fancy Potato Grow Bag and was set to give them a try. What confused me with planting potatoes is that “seed potatoes” are actually potatoes.

I made the mistake of buying a huge bag of seed potatoes not realizing I didn’t need to plant a lot of potatoes in my bag. I had heard of the concept of “hilling” your potatoes and thought this meant that I planted layers of seed potatoes–boy was I wrong! Hilling just refers to piling dirt to cover the stems of the potato plant.

I was able to gift my extra seed potatoes to a person that gardens in a community garden plot. She let me know that the extras they wouldn’t be using personally would go towards the food bank plot and that made me feel a lot better about having bought so many seeds!

I don’t know how many potatoes I’ll get to harvest, but it has been so satisfying to watch my potato plants thrive!

beets growing in white planter
My beets starting to sprout

Beets

My poor little beets don’t seem to be growing too well. I’m not sure if it is the weather or the location on my balcony, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed (fingers crossed is my main gardening strategy!) they will get bigger with more time. I have planted a number of rows of beets, each two weeks apart, in an attempt at succession planting. I don’t usually cook with beets, so it seemed like a good idea to spread out the harvest.

I chose to plant beets because I thought it would be satisfying to grow and harvest them. I also know that they are really healthy, but are something I never usually buy. Growing my own seemed like a great way to try them! I chose to plant a beet blend so that I would be able to try a variety of types. Well, this is the goal, but first they have to grow!

Radishes

I’m slightly concerned that my radishes are not yet producing fruit because they have been in the soil since mid-April, but I have to say it has been so satisfying to watch them grow. I chose to plant a radish blend of seeds to have a variety to try. At the very least I currently have an abundance of radish greens that I could harvest and cook.

When my radishes were first sprouting I made sure to thin out the seeds to give the plants room to grow. It was so hard to pull up the plants that I’d hand sown into the soil, but I knew it was for the best as it would help the remaining plants grow bigger. I loved the fact that my little radish leaves looked like hearts–it was a little extra love from my garden.

Strawberries and Parsley

I purchased small strawberry and parsley plants that I put directly into my planters. The strawberry plants haven’t grown very much, but they also haven’t died on me yet, so I’m hoping they’ll progress with better weather.

The parsley plant was pretty well grown when I planted it, so I’ve been able to harvest and cook with some of the leaves already. It was a nice to have that instant gratification of being able to use some herbs. It also gives me a little hope for the future harvests of other plants.

Cucumbers

I’m growing my cucumbers from seed and due to the poor weather (and some impatience on my part), I’ve started growing them indoors. I originally planned to direct sow the seeds outdoors mid-June, but I was anxious to see if they would grow, so found some space to grow them indoors. They are the cutest little plants so far and I will move them outdoors once it’s warm enough.

Cucumber and basil seedlings
Cucumber and Basil Seedlings

Basil

I planted basil seeds because I’d previously had great luck growing these plants. I am growing them from seed indoors to start, with plans to put them in one of my railing planters. I am unsure how well these little plants are going to grow, but they aren’t taking up much space beside my cucumbers so I’ll keep tending them and hope sunnier days will encourage more growth.

Tomatoes

I had bought a small tomato seedling that I kept indoors to let grow. I kept it inside for much longer than I probably should have, but the weather has been so cold overnight that I didn’t want the plant to die. The weather has been a struggle for a lot of gardeners this year and discussing when to put plants outdoors was a big topic of conversation in one of my gardening groups.

I finally put my tomato plant out on the balcony at the end of the first week of June after slowly introducing it to the elements and cooler temperatures. The idea of hardening off seedlings was a new concept for me and I looked at it as “taking my plants for a walk outdoors” and briefly letting them experience wind, sun, and whatever else Mother Nature had in store.

As nervous as I was about putting my tomato outside, I basically had to because it had gotten so tall. I had to find a new spot for my tomato plant as it grew too big for my original plan. I also had to improvise a trellis for it and tied it to my balcony railing. I don’t have a trellis tall enough to support the plant, so we’ll see how well my make-shift trellis does!

Peppers

My pepper plant is currently still indoors, though I’ve been working to introduce it to the outdoors with hopes of putting it out permanently this week.

I was very excited to see that my pepper plant was growing flowers, but remembered hearing that I was supposed to cut off the flowers to start. Like the idea of thinning sprouts, the idea of cutting off flowers is hard when you’ve worked to get something to grow, even though it is to encourage better overall growth.

I asked in my gardening group for opinions on cutting off the flowers and the opinion was pretty split on whether to do it or not. One person shared this 5-minute YouTube video about why to cut off the pepper plant flowers and I found it very helpful.

Flowers

In an effort to try and attract some bees to my balcony, I bought some plants and flowers. It is also lovely to have a some bright colours while I wait for my other plants to grow. The three plants I have out there are Marigolds, Ajuga (or chocolate chip plant), and Ranunculus. The Chocolate Chip Plant is supposed to be very hearty and able to endure almost anything, so it seemed perfect for my inexperience!


How is your garden doing so far this year? What have you been planting?

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6 Comments

  • Vanessa

    I love all your choices. I hope your kale turns out well this time! It is very nutritious. I didn’t know there were potato bag planters, that seems like a very good idea for those who don’t have much space. Thanks for sharing your journey, I’m loving it!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thanks Vanessa! 🙂 The potato bags have been great because I can just roll them up as the plants get taller. I’m shocked at how tall potato plants grow! I had no idea!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thank you Molly! My skills are really just planting so much I don’t notice if something doesn’t survive hehe 🙂

  • Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader)

    Wow. You’re garden is doing great. Our weather has been unpredictable, too. The tomatoes and peppers we planted in containers on the deck are doing great. We also have potatoes in bags that are growing like crazy. The veggies in the garden were planted later because the ground was too wet so they’re not doing as well.

    I’m disappointed with my flowers this year. I started coleus, geraniums and marigolds indoors. The marigolds seem to be doing okay but not the coleus or the geraniums.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thanks Michelle! I’m excited about how well it’s doing so far. Vegetable garden timing seems to be off for so many this year with the crazy weather. I hope your garden turns around for you! And that the weather starts cooperating. Our temps dipped again this week.

      I had to google what coleus are. They are beautiful plants!

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