balcony garden
Gardening

Gardening While Renting: New Year, New Hope, New Balcony Garden

Last year I had an unexpected move, which happily landed me in a wonderful apartment with a beautiful balcony. Was I ever excited when I laid eyes on that balcony! All I could think about was what an amazing balcony garden I could have and all the vegetables I could grow. Gardening while renting can be a challenge, but this new space gives me hope for a thriving container garden.

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Balcony
My new balcony all ready to become a garden

Why I’m excited for my Balcony Garden

For the last couple of years I’ve been attempting to garden in my rental units in the smallest of spaces. With the challenges that came with small space gardening also came a lot of great lessons and an appreciation for the process of growing food.

This new balcony not only gives me a greater amount of space and a greater amount of sunlight, but also a private space to garden. All of these factors increase my likelihood of success–and success is not something I’ve had in abundance so far.

Sourcing my Balcony Garden Supplies

My garden is starting from scratch, so I needed to start finding some supplies. With hopes of keeping costs down and having a smaller environmental impact, I wanted to find used items wherever possible.

These are a few places I looked for new-to-me gardening supplies:

1. My Local Buy Nothing Group

The first place I started was to ask my Buy Nothing Group if anyone had supplies to spare. I was able to find some trellises and a plant cage for free from there.

2. Freebies on the Curb

One of our local cities has a yearly “spring clean” where residents can leave items out on the curb and the city will collect the items for the landfill. This is actually a known event on a weekend where people wander through the streets to see what treasures they can find. It’s a little like going to a garage sale, but everything is free!

I was able to find a number of plant pots, a plastic shelf, a chair I’ll use as a plant stand, and a rustic old window that I’m using as décor just for fun.

Second hand planters for balcony garden
My freebies picked up from the curb–perfectly fit for my balcony garden

3. Thrift Stores

I went to a couple of thrift stores hopeful that I’d be able to find more second hand items for the garden, but was surprised that there were no gardening items that I could find. I may have been too early in the season, so will check back if I find I am missing any tools or supplies.

4. Second Hand Marketplaces

I searched on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist as I was hoping to find some railing planters. I happily found a couple that fit my railing perfectly and were half the price of buying them new!

5. Buying New

There may be a couple of more planters and tools that I will need to acquire and my last place to look is going to be buying new. So far, the new items I’ve purchased are two planter caddies to place beneath larger pots to keep them from resting on my balcony floor.

Plant pot with soil and trellis on balcony garden
Free ceramic planter and trellis ready for planting

What I’m Planting in my Balcony Garden

It was so hard not to go overboard when planning for my balcony garden. There is so much more space than I’m used to having, so I’ve been dreaming big. The only thing that’s reigning me in is the limited number of planters I have so far.

Here is what I’m planning to grow this year:

  • Strawberries
  • Peas
  • Bell peppers
  • Tomatoes
  • Potatoes in a potato bag
  • Radishes
  • Beets
  • Herbs–mint, basil, and possibly one other if I find space.
  • Kale
  • Cucumbers–I’m really excited about these Patio Snackers as they seem perfect for my containers.
  • Bee and pollinator-friendly flowers
Packets of West Coast Seeds
Choosing good quality West Coast Seeds for my garden.

Finding Advice for my Balcony Garden

I’m still new to this gardening hobby, so I have a LOT to learn. While I’ve learned a lot over the last couple of years–like how to pollinate cucumber plants, which I didn’t know was a thing!–there is a lot more knowledge to gather.

These are a few things I’ve been reading to help me tend my garden this year:

1. How to grow strawberry plants in pots by The Spruce includes some step by step instructions for planting and caring for your strawberry plants.

2. Beginner gardener tips and mistakes to avoid by CBC Life includes info that may be basic for some, but were really helpful reminders and lessons for a beginner like me.

3. Companion planting list by West Coast Seeds has a huge list of plants and what is best to plant beside each of them for increased crop success and natural pest repellant.

4. How to prune peppers by Rural Sprout because I’m hoping to have success with my future pepper plants and I don’t know how to make that happen just yet.

5. How to grow food vertically by Rural Sprout has suggestions for plants you can grow up trellises to maximize your space.

6. How to grow potatoes in a grow bag infographic by West Coast Seeds. This is my first year attempting potatoes and I’m excited for it. This visual is a huge help for my planning and growing my potatoes.

Infographic: How to grow potatoes in a grow bag

Let the Gardening Season Begin!

I can’t express enough how excited I am to get started on this balcony garden of mine. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good growing weather this year as last year’s heat dome was quite the gardening adventure.

What are you planting this year? Are you doing any container gardening?

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