Gardening While Renting: The Beginning of the End

I haven’t had a chance to write up a balcony garden update for this season yet and now I am faced with dismantling it all and bringing an end to my balcony garden. I have mixed feelings about this, but when you are gardening while renting, sometimes you just don’t have a choice in the matter!

balcony garden

Balcony Garden Update: Faced with taking it all apart

Gardening while renting has come with a lot of challenges and this latest one seems like the final straw. I live in an older wood framed building where the property managers have become concerned with the stability of our balconies. Because of this, there have been new rules set in place limiting the number and size of planters each unit is allowed on their balcony. Even though it was disappointing news, I completely understand this and don’t disagree with it at all. Balconies in general will have limitations, but especially so with the older buildings.

When faced with downsizing my balcony garden, I began to think through whether I should keep any of it at all. My garden has brought me a lot of joy through the years, but it has also had some challenges.

The Joys of Gardening

Years ago, Krista’s husband built me a little triangle planter so that I could start a little garden on my front stoop–the only outdoor space available to me. I had pretty much no experience being in charge of my own garden, so it was the start of a new adventure.

A part of the difficulty when faced with deciding to take apart my balcony garden was the joys that come with gardening. There are so many!

  • The joy of learning something new
  • The joy of seeing new seedlings sprout up
  • The joy of seeing fruit grow on my plants
  • The joy of digging into the dirt and getting my hands dirty
  • The joy of seeing bees enjoying the flowers on my plants

The Challenges of Gardening

Even though gardening has brought me a lot of joy, there have certainly been challenges with it too. One of the biggest are the Stellar Jays that like to come and create overwhelming messes on my balcony. They sure are cute, but these Jays are not the tidiest bunch when burying their peanuts in my planters.

Not only do the Stellar Jays create a mess, but they also tear up my plants and seeds, which is a frustrating and sad thing to experience. I tried to get a fake owl and crow to scare them away, but this only worked for a couple of weeks before these smart birds realized they were fake.

Another challenge is the amount of work gardening is–even with my small little batch of planters, I felt the pressure of maintaining my plants. Gardening is not an inexpensive venture, so I felt that pressure to maximize the amount that I was getting out of my garden.

In the end, the challenges outweighed the joys of gardening for me in my current season of life, so I did decide to not keep any of my garden. I am hoping that the extra space on my balcony will give me space to rest and relax and maybe make up for the loss of my plants.

Dismantling my Balcony Garden

When taking everything apart, I wanted as little to go to waste as possible. I was able to uproot some seedlings and passed them on to Krista for her garden. Hopefully they survive the replanting!

I emptied my planters and gave some to a neighbour and sold some of them on Marketplace. The soil from my planters was gifted via my Buy Nothing Group and I’m so glad as I feared the soil would be hard to get rid of properly!

There are still a few items to part ways with yet, but I’m planning to gift them forward or recycle accordingly. I’m glad very little in the dismantling has ended up in the garbage bin.

The End of my Gardening While Renting Adventure

I don’t know if this is the absolute end of my attempts to garden while being a renter, but for the time being this project has been put on hold. My indoor plants might be happy about this because it means I’ll have more time to focus on them!

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  • Molly | Transatlantic Notes

    I’m sure it’s bittersweet to have to dismantle your balcony garden, but if the challenges outweighed the joys then you did the right thing. I love how consciously you are getting rid of things, that is a really great way to go about it!

  • Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader)

    Aww I’m sorry to hear you’ve had to dismantle your balcony garden, Alison. Gardening is definitely a challenge. I have scaled back my vegetable garden after finally admitting that my north-facing back garden just doesn’t support success. I retained a small area that does get a decent amount of sunshine every day and planted a few tomato plants there. I also have lettuce growing in pots on the deck.

    Perhaps you could consider a community garden at some point. My cousin lives in a condo in Toronto and he has a small plot in a community garden. I’m amazed at how much he gets out of that small space.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Thanks Michelle. It was sad to pack it all up, but I think I’m going to be okay with it. There is a lovely community garden down the street from me. I love seeing it come to life this time of year. Waitlists are so long for the community gardens here though. I did contact them when I first moved here so maybe I’ll move up the list eventually! 🙂

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments!