How I’m Starting my Balcony Garden this Year

I wasn’t planning on gardening this year because of how poorly my balcony garden grew last year, but since I had a large number of seeds left over, I decided to give it another go. This year, I’m setting my expectations lower and am simply going to hope for the best.

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Balcony garden planters
This year’s balcony garden

Troublemaking Stellar Jays

My gardening journey started out with a bit of an obstacle to overcome. Last year I had these super sweet and cute Stellar Jays visiting my balcony, so I was excited to see some jays come back this year. Having birds come and visit my balcony garden has been a huge source of joy this last year

The young jays that started coming by this year were a lot more rambunctious than the previous ones. They took to tearing up my planters and throwing soil all over my balcony. Some days it looked like they picked up a planter and overturned it with how much soil there was on my balcony! I can’t get too mad at them because they are just hiding and looking for food, but it has been a big inconvenience.

Aside from the mess, the main reason I was unimpressed with their behaviour is that they were disrupting the seeds that I planted. I couldn’t tell what seeds might have survived any one of their digging adventures, so many seeds were started multiple times and some started late.

I was most upset about my snap pea seeds being unplanted as those seeds prefer the cooler weather. Having to replant the seeds made me worry they were not going to grow as well due to the warmer weather.

Not knowing which seeds survived and which didn’t also meant that I have likely overplanted every planter. And I’ve lost track of what’s been planted where in some cases! So now my garden has turned into a little adventurous, mystery plot where I don’t know what is growing where. It will be interesting to see what pops up!

What I’m planting for this year’s balcony garden

Since I was going for low effort and low cost this time around, I simply reused all of the seeds that I had from last year.

These are the seeds I’m planting:

Changes I’m making for this year’s balcony garden

I was really disappointed with how little my garden yielded last year, so that got me thinking about what might have gone wrong. The most logical thought was that the soil might not have had enough nutrients for the plants to grow fruit. I purchased a fertilizer (admittedly I chose at random based on convenience) and am adding this to my watering regime to hopefully create better results this year.

My kale plant from last year survived the winter and has flowered. The planter it is in in far too little, so I don’t think it’s going to grow very well, but I’m letting it grow as much and for as long as it will survive. I’m hoping that the flowers will attract and help some bees on their journeys.

Sad looking strawberries

I decided to over-winter a few of my strawberry plants from last year. They are looking pretty sad and brown right now, so I’m not too confident that they will grow back. It was more of a little experiment to see how they would do, so my expectations were never that high for them. I only got two of the tiniest strawberries from these plants last year, so they were never big producers as it was.

That being said, there is the potential issue of the soil quality that I mentioned, which is possibly why the plants didn’t produce anything. I’m adding the fertilizer when I water these strawberry plants to give them an extra bit of chance to grow back.

over wintered strawberry plant in white planter on balcony garden
My sad looking strawberry plants

Have you started your garden this year? What container gardening tips can you pass on to this new gardener? I’d love to hear them!

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  • Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader)

    We’re getting a new deck and patio this year which was disrupted my plans because I couldn’t plant anything in the big planter boxes on the deck. Last year was a bust so I needed to restrategize anyway. I’m sticking to a few pepper and tomato plants in the one sunny corner of our north-facing garden. After the deck is done, I’ll give some thought to what to do next year.

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      Having the new deck for next year will be so nice! Construction is definitely a big obstacle for a garden–puts my stellar jay obstacle in perspective hehe 🙂

      • Michelle (Boomer Eco Crusader)

        We have lots of critters in our garden. Last night we heard a noise on the deck and my daughter let out a little yelp. There was a HUGE raccoon up to no good outside our patio doors. I tried to shoo him away and he just looked at me and carried on. He was a cute little fellow but I don’t want him living in our garage. LOL

        • A Sustainably Simple Life

          Oooh. Racoons are trouble! They can be cute, but definitely don’t want to get on their bad side. That’s pretty funny he wasn’t phased by you at all, but I hope he carried on far passed your garage!

  • Cecilia Mary Gunther

    I love that you are growing food in your pots. I also do quite a bit of this (though i have a large kitchens garden as well) just to show that you can. If you would like any tips let me know, I would be happy to help! Save that kale seed! If it survived all this time it has adapted to your environment and will do well again. Talk soon. c

        • A Sustainably Simple Life

          The things I’m growing this year that might have potential to actually grow and for seeds are my cucumbers, snap peas, and kale.

      • Cecilia Mary Gunther

        First off choose your best performing plants and mark them.

        For the kale and peas – let them go to seed and let the seeds dry on the plants. Keep watering as usual you want the seed dry not dead. If you are only growing one variety there is no need to bag them.

        Once dry pop the seeds into a well labeled paper bag and into a glass jar. If there is no condensation in the jar you know they are dry enough to seal. Store very cool.

        Thank you for the reminder to make a seed saving post – or at least begin a seed saving chapter in the posts.

        Nothing happens overnight in a garden as you know. And I love saving seeds!

    • A Sustainably Simple Life

      I feel so blessed to have this little balcony! I haven’t had an outdoor space for years and it’s been so wonderful to have.

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