How to Grow a Balcony Vegetable Garden

A young woman watering a tomato plant on a balcony.

Whether you live in an apartment or condo, having limited space can be a challenge. When you think about cramped quarters, though, you probably think first of the inside. But what about your outdoor space?

While some who enjoy apartment living may think the idea of a vegetable garden is ruled out, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. For those lucky enough to have a balcony, a vegetable garden can be harvested right there in that small-but-mighty space! Below, learn how to create your own bountiful garden right outside on your balcony this season for delicious crops to feast on.

What to Grow in Your Balcony Garden

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Your balcony garden can grow all kinds of delicious vegetables to munch on all season long! Herbs such as mint, cilantro, basil, and rosemary are all great container plants that add much flavor to dishes once harvested. Also consider growing items like tomatoes, garlic, lettuce, peas, and even eggplant in your space!

Setting up Your Balcony Garden

You may be wondering how to set up your balcony garden to ensure success. Here’s the rundown on how to best utilize the small space.

Vertical Gardens

To grow herbs, consider investing in or making your own vertical garden that hangs on a wall or other vertical surface. This is an obvious space saver and is an easy way to grow a wider variety of items. Cilantro, basil, mint, and rosemary are all great choices to plant in your vertical garden, stashed in a corner of your balcony.


A balcony container garden.

Choosing the size of your containers for your balcony vegetable garden really depends on the size of your balcony. If it’s more generously sized, you can perhaps invest in or build a rectangular or square wooden container to house several different plants. If you’re tighter on space, opt for smaller, individually contained plants that can be pieced together like a puzzle in the space. This is also a chance to get creative. Choose stylish planters to make your balcony aesthetically pleasing, too!

Hanging Plants

To really maximize space, you can also opt for hanging planters, as long as you have somewhere to hang them within your outdoor area. A tiered hanging planter is another great option for planting herbs in, and they’re sure to look lush as they grow over the sides of the planter.

Watering Your Balcony Garden

A container garden with leafy greens.

Since your balcony garden is no ordinary bundle of veggies, it may require special watering techniques and schedules. To ensure optimal growth, always gain a clear understanding of the amount of water each individual plant needs.

Since your garden is likely to be made up of mostly container plants, you’ll want to remember that these crops get most of their water from the soil and do not take in much moisture from their leaves. However, container plants have small roots given their confined space, so these have to be watered carefully.

Water container plants until the moisture penetrates the soil, ensuring it's not just coating the surface. Water should make its way through the plant soil to the bottom drain. Let your plant sit in the drain water for 15 to 30 minutes, but don’t let them sit too long, as it could lead to rotted roots. If you fear that you’ve over-watered a plant, gently tip the container to the side and allow excess water to exit.

Finally, pay attention to how much water your plants take in naturally in the event of a rainstorm. This will depend on how much coverage there is on your personal balcony, so be sure to check this when it rains, as it can affect your watering schedule.

Sunlight and Your Balcony Garden

The last key to balcony garden success is ensuring your plants get the right amount of sunlight. This can be tricky depending on the positioning of your balcony as well as the amount of coverage or overhang it has. If your balcony does not receive direct sun and is completely shady, you will want to plant a different subset of plants that are known to flourish without much natural light. (Note that those plants include common houseplants and not many vegetables.)

If your balcony falls somewhere in the middle of the sunlight spectrum and receives several hours of light each day, grow plants such as malabar spinach, mint, corn, kale, and onions—all of which thrive in only a few hours of light each day.

If your balcony receives an abundance of sunlight, that’s great for your garden. However, if this is the case, ensure that you are watering your plants more than normal, as the sun encourages growth, although a contained plant has limited space to expand its roots. This makes watering more vital.

Take advantage of the outdoor space that you do have, even if it’s not as expansive as what other gardeners are used to, or what you wish you have. You’ll love putting your freshly grown vegetables to use in fresh salads and dishes all season long.

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