Grow a Balcony Vegetable Garden in your urban space by using the information in our guide on Growing Vegetables on a Balcony!
Have a look at vegetables you can harvest indoors year-round here
Best Vegetables for Balcony Garden
Vegetables that don’t take a lot of space to grow and produce more are ideal for growing on the balcony. Tomatoes and peppers are, without a doubt, the first ones you need to consider as they are the easiest to grow.
You can also start with climbing vegetables like beans, cucumbers, peas, and Malabar spinach as they all grow vertically and takes less space. Check out our list of vining vegetables here!
Pro Tip: If you’ve got some big and medium-size pots, you can plant zucchini, okra, eggplant, and melons.
What Else Can You Grow on a Balcony?
In small pots, you can grow leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, arugula, mustard green, chard, endive leaf, and something exotic ones like Chinese cabbage, fenugreek, and bok-choy, as well as some easiest root vegetables like radish, beets, carrot, ginger, and potato.
When it comes to easy edibles that don’t take space—you can’t miss green onions and garlic greens for your salads, soups, stews, omelets, noodles, various meat and egg dishes, and whatnot.
Always, when you grow vegetables on the balcony, plant some companion herbs to grow with them. The combination of them enhances the taste of vegetables, and you also get a fresh supply of herbs too. Go with herbs you use most often—It could be parsley, chives, cilantro, mint, rosemary, or basil.
Growing Vegetables on a Balcony—Step by Step
The number one factor that will determine what you can grow and what you can not is your location: Direction of your balcony garden and how much sunlight it receives. The sunnier, the better!
If it is a South or West-facing balcony, you’ll have sunshine almost all day, which means you can grow anything. An East facing balcony receives sunlight in the morning, which is sufficient for most greens, herbs, and root vegetables.
On the contrary, a North facing balcony usually remains shady throughout the year, and it’s difficult to grow vegetables in the shade; however, you can still try lettuce, parsley, peas, cilantro, fenugreek, green onions, bok choy, and mustard greens.
2. Pots for Growing Vegetables on the Balcony
Before purchasing pots for your vegetable balcony garden, you must consider whether you want to grow vegetables for ornamental or usability purposes. If usability is more important for you, simply select containers, propagation trays, and window boxes where many plants can grow together.
If you care for the looks of your balcony vegetable garden, then choose colorful pots, decorative barrels, and urn and modern designer planters.
Keep in mind that the size of the pot must match the pace of growth and requirements of edible plants you’re growing.
You can grow peppers, eggplants, peas, and cherry tomatoes in a 3-5 gallon size container. Large containers can be used for tall tomato varieties and beans. Seedlings of vegetable plants can be grown in a seed tray or small container to save space. Later they need to be transplanted in bigger pots.
Railing and vertical planters are also a great choice to utilize a limited space on a balcony. You can grow salad greens on a tower planter and hang small pots on the railings to grow herbs, too.
3. Soil for Planting Balcony Vegetable Garden
Vegetables grown in pots require loose, well-drained, fertile, and nutritious soil. You can buy a commercial potting mix for this. If you want to prepare it yourself, check out our guide here.
In addition, incorporate slow-release fertilizer or well-rotted manure or compost in your soil, and hydrogel crystals too, if your balcony is windy and sunny. Hydrogel crystals absorb excess water in them and keep it for later supply to the plant’s root directly.
If possible, do soil testing at home to identify the pH value of the soil you’re using. Generally, vegetables grow in slightly acidic to neutral soil (6-7 pH). Once you find out your soil type (alkaline or acidic), amend it according to the edible plant you’re growing.
4. Preparing Seedlings
Vegetable seeds can be sown on a seed tray. After germination, transplant them when the top two real leaves have grown. Some vegetables that do not transplant well better are better grown in separate pots.
Vegetables such as gourds, melons, turnips, and squashes do not transplant well and suffer damage when moved. Therefore plant them directly at the preferred location or be extra careful when handling their seedlings.
If you do not want to sow seeds, purchase vegetable transplants from a nearby nursery. Buy plants that are healthy and do not have any pests and diseases. Also, don’t forget to check out our most important seed starting tips here.
Seedlings are better transplanted on cloudy days in moist soil. This helps the young plants in establishing well. On sunny days, planting should be done in late afternoons or evenings. Before transplanting the seedlings, water them abundantly, this prevents the shock and breakdown of soil around the roots.
Seeding should be planted at the right depth. Tomatoes can be planted deeper, covering up to the first set of leaves, this stimulates adventitious roots and thus strengthen the plant. However, lettuce planted too deep can not develop heads. Similarly, celery planted too deeply doesn’t develop well. This is why it’s important to know for correct planting depth!
A Tip: Feed with one tablespoon Epsom salt mixed in one gallon of water after planting to avoid transplanting shock.
How to Care for Balcony Vegetables
- Once you plant vegetables on the balcony, you need to care for them. It is necessary to water plants the right way.
- You should not set any schedule for watering your plants, only water them when they need it.
- Watering the plants at night invites fungal diseases and makes them vulnerable to pest infestation, so it is best to water your plants in the morning.
- When the vegetables adapt to the microclimate of your balcony, the only requirement left is watering, fertilizing, and occasional trimming of dead and damaged leaves and removing suckers if you’re growing tomatoes and eggplants.
- Generally, you should feed your plants every 2-4 weeks or so with balanced liquid fertilizer or side-dress the vegetables and herbs with compost or well-rotted manure twice during the growing season.
- To save your plants from pests, keep removing them as soon as you identify them by handpicking or spraying water jets and grow plants that deter pests.
- In the case of serious pest infestation and diseases, use organic pesticide, homemade insecticidal soap, neem oil.
- Using chemical pesticides and fungicides should be the last option if you prefer organic gardening.