Gardening

Gardening While Renting: What I’m Harvesting from my Balcony Garden

This year’s been an exciting one for me as I’ve had a new balcony to enjoy and create a garden space in. It has been a lot of fun to experiment with growing tons of different plants to see what works and what doesn’t. As Krista mentioned in her backyard garden update, the weather this year has been hard to keep up with, so my gardening learning curve has been steep this year!

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Packets of West Coast Seeds
Some of the West Coast Seeds I planted this year

What I’ve been Harvesting from my Balcony Garden

Challenging weather and my lack of gardening know-how has led to some interesting growing experiences. I’ve been told by a friend that I’m really good at growing leaves because my balcony is full of lush greenery–but that doesn’t always result in a fruitful harvest.

Here’s a look at what’s been growing and what I’ve been able to harvest:

Radishes

I was really optimistic about my radishes because they are supposed to be easy to grow. They started off amazingly and I had an abundance of radish leaves in my little planter. Unfortunately, the radishes did not seem to grow very big and were too small to do much with when I tried to harvest them.

I’m assuming that I did not thin the plants enough and that there were too many in the container. I did try to thin them out, but I know to go even further next year. While they weren’t really great to eat, they were certainly cute! I did look up some recipes for radish leaves and gave that a try before the leaves bolted.

Strawberries

I have so far had one teeny tiny strawberry that I enjoyed from my garden. I planted 10 plants in various spots and containers, but none of them have been doing well. It’s possibly due to the weather or because my balcony is not suitable for the plants, but I’m happy I gave them a try.

I have two more tiny strawberries on currently going so I may just triple my harvest yet!

Kale

Kale is another one that I’m growing because it is supposed to be an easy one. I’m not big on leafy greens, so with my first kale harvest–which was the most impressive of all my veggies so far–I made chips!

Kale chips are incredibly easy to make:
– Wash and dry the leaves, remove stems
– Sprinkle with oil and salt
– Lay out on a baking sheet so leaves aren’t touching
– Bake at around 300*F for 15-20 mins (temps and time will vary depending on your oven)
– Flip halfway through for even baking
– Enjoy!

Since the kale plant has been growing the best, I’m likely going to plant one more seed to try and have a late season harvest.

Peas

My peas have been the most fun plant to grow. The plant itself seemed to thrive in the corner of my balcony. I experienced so much excitement every time I saw a pea pod forming. There was never a ton of peas produced by the plants–maybe a dozen or so overall–but being able to go out onto my balcony and pick fresh peas was incredibly satisfying.

What is Still Growing in my Container Garden

I still have a number of plants on the go that will hopefully be producing fruit for me soon.

This is what I’m looking forward to next:

Cucumbers

I have four cucumber plants growing right now. I started them indoors and transplanted them once the weather got warmer. They seem to have thrived in the hot spell of weather we just had and I am finally getting female cucumber flowers. I’ve been hand-pollinating the plants as I’m not sure I get many bees on my balcony. The cucumbers are tiny yet, but I’m so hopeful for them to grow into full size fruit.

Potatoes

My potato plants have been growing so well I’ve had to restrain them! They grew so tall that I was worried they would topple over. I’m not sure what is actually growing in the soil for potatoes, but the plants have been thriving.

Tomatoes

Now, I’m not so sure about this tomato plant. It is huge! I think it’s almost as tall as me! But I have not seen any signs of tomatoes growing on it yet. Just this past week have flowers started to form, so I hope those soon turn into tomatoes.

Peppers

My pepper plant has been really exciting to watch. I had chosen to cut off the first couple of flowers the plant produced and I think that was the right call in my case. The plant grew much bigger and stronger after I did that and is now producing fruit. I have one pepper growing strong and it looks like a second one is beginning to form as well. There is the potential for even more as there are a couple of flowers starting to bud.

While it hasn’t been an overly abundant harvest, I’ve certainly had a lot of fun so far this year.

How has your garden been growing so far? What has brought you the most excitement in the garden this year?

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