Author Topic: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)  (Read 1683 times)

Freedomin5

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Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« on: July 15, 2019, 07:33:32 AM »
I know many of the folks here have LOVELY gardens, and I was hoping to pick your brains and glean some knowledge from you wonderful people!

We are moving to an apartment with a nice west-facing balcony in a sub-tropical locale (hot and humid, kind of like Florida). We thought it would be nice to have a container garden and would like it to be a fun activity that 5 year old DD can participate in. We are thinking of planting baby tomatoes, mini peppers, basil, and rosemary in one large container, and strawberries and mint in another container. Oh, and a kumquat tree. We will purchase seedlings from a local nursery.

To date, the only ďgardeningĒ weíve done is successfully sprouting alfalfa seeds in a glass jar. Which even a blind monkey can do. So I donít think that that counts as gardening. 

My questions are:

1. Are those good options for gardening newbies? As in, not likely to die on us?
2. Can I fit tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, and basil in one container? Will it crowd the plants? Whatís the optimal number of plants in each container?
3. Iíve heard of companion pairing and read up a bit on that. Are the plants listed above paired correctly?
4.  Our apartment is on the third floor and surrounded by trees. Will that be a problem for some of the plants?
5. Are there other plants that are more hardy and are better options for first time gardeners?
6. Are there any other things I should consider to ensure that our plants thrive?

Thank you all in advance!
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 08:47:04 AM by Freedomin5 »

GizmoTX

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2019, 09:05:06 AM »
We moved into a rent house last summer while our lake house is being rebuilt; the rental won't allow a dug garden & we didn't want the work even if it did. We love growing tomatoes and herbs. We bought the fabric bag containers & filled them with garden soil. We had some old plastic chairs & tables we were going to throw out, but repurposed them to hold the bags as a makeshift raised bed that wouldn't kill the lawn. The bags "air prune" the roots, which doesn't happen in a rigid (heavy) container but you will have to water frequently. You might want to use watering tubes in your bags to keep the plants happy & prevent runoff onto your balcony. You want a large bag per tomato plant & plan on a cage or other method to support the plant as it grows. Cherry tomatoes are very prolific, taste great, & have produced better than the conventional varieties. Tomatoes do want at least a half day of full sun. Herbs are less fussy about sunlight. You can put several pepper plants in one bag. Use another bag or two for herbs.

coffeefueled

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2019, 12:58:52 PM »
I would put mint in it's own small pot. It can crowd out other plants. Strawberries do great in space saving containers. I've heard of people growing them in long gutters and shallow window boxes attached to their patio walls or railings.

What size are your containers? I would do some reading on square foot gardening. You're not making a raised bed but it'll give you an idea of how much space each plant needs. There are several charts online that show number of plants per foot.

I wouldn't put rosemary with your tomatoes and basil. The rosemary doesn't like as much water as the tomatoes do so they wouldn't be happy together.

kei te pai

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2019, 02:48:37 PM »
I suggest starting small scale with a couple of pots of herbs. Plants in containers need more attention than in a garden bed generally, and it is easy to kill them with a few days inattention.
Once you have the habit of tending to them, add some more larger containers. A large well watered planter box is quite heavy though so you might want to check if there are weight limitations.

herbgeek

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2019, 03:13:22 PM »
You mention trees.  How many hours of sunlight will these containers get?  Fruiting plants will need significantly more sun than, say, greens.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2019, 03:15:28 PM »
We moved into a rent house last summer while our lake house is being rebuilt; the rental won't allow a dug garden & we didn't want the work even if it did. We love growing tomatoes and herbs. We bought the fabric bag containers & filled them with garden soil. We had some old plastic chairs & tables we were going to throw out, but repurposed them to hold the bags as a makeshift raised bed that wouldn't kill the lawn. The bags "air prune" the roots, which doesn't happen in a rigid (heavy) container but you will have to water frequently. You might want to use watering tubes in your bags to keep the plants happy & prevent runoff onto your balcony. You want a large bag per tomato plant & plan on a cage or other method to support the plant as it grows. Cherry tomatoes are very prolific, taste great, & have produced better than the conventional varieties. Tomatoes do want at least a half day of full sun. Herbs are less fussy about sunlight. You can put several pepper plants in one bag. Use another bag or two for herbs.

Thanks for the idea on using fabric containers! I did not even know those existed! We are ok with watering frequently. DD will probably try to drown the plants. :P Also, thanks for the tip regarding a cage or ways to hold up the tomatoes. I guess Iíll have to observe how much sunlight the balcony gets before running out and buying a tomato plant.

What are watering tubes?

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2019, 03:20:03 PM »
I would put mint in it's own small pot. It can crowd out other plants. Strawberries do great in space saving containers. I've heard of people growing them in long gutters and shallow window boxes attached to their patio walls or railings.

What size are your containers? I would do some reading on square foot gardening. You're not making a raised bed but it'll give you an idea of how much space each plant needs. There are several charts online that show number of plants per foot.

I wouldn't put rosemary with your tomatoes and basil. The rosemary doesn't like as much water as the tomatoes do so they wouldn't be happy together.

The containers I was thinking of getting are 39 cm x 39 cm x 37 cm (15 in x 15 in x 14.5 in) for the big plants (tomatoes) and 39x39x22 (8.5 in) for the strawberries. Thank you for the idea regarding square foot gardening. Iíll look into it. And for the tip regarding rosemary. Iíll keep it in a separate pot.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2019, 04:00:30 PM by Freedomin5 »

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2019, 03:22:51 PM »
I suggest starting small scale with a couple of pots of herbs. Plants in containers need more attention than in a garden bed generally, and it is easy to kill them with a few days inattention.
Once you have the habit of tending to them, add some more larger containers. A large well watered planter box is quite heavy though so you might want to check if there are weight limitations.

Good reminder about the weight limitation. Thank you!

And yes, I suppose it does make sense to build up to a lush balcony garden. Iíll start with the herbs and add the bigger plants once weíve confirmed that we are capable of taking care of them.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2019, 03:26:55 PM »
You mention trees.  How many hours of sunlight will these containers get?  Fruiting plants will need significantly more sun than, say, greens.

Good to know. They probably will only get partial sunlight. We are on the third floor surrounded by leafy trees designed to give shade. Iíll have to observe the hours of sunlight before purchasing the kumquat tree. We may to replace the kumquats with spinach (which in DDís mind, will not be a fair trade off).

In general, how many hours of sunlight do fruiting plants require?

nora

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2019, 03:58:33 PM »
baby tomatoes, mini peppers, basil, and rosemary in one large container, and strawberries and mint in another container. Oh, and a kumquat tree. We will purchase seedlings from a local nursery.

1. Are those good options for gardening newbies? As in, not likely to die on us?
Mint is like a weed so hard to kill, but it likes shade and lots of water.
Baby tomatoes do best if staked or growing up a trellis, otherwise they end up a tangled mess.
Peppers are easy if you have a long growing season, like five months.
Basil is easy to grow
Rosemary is a perennial so will be like a bush you trim each year
Strawberries are easy, but need to protect the fruit from birds with netting,and I put straw around them when fruiting to keep the fruit off the soil so less rotting. They send off runners so you can get more strawberry plants from them if you put another pot under the new roots, then use those ones the following year and discard the originals after two years.
The kumquat tree would need to be kept really small, which happens naturally in a pot, or perhaps there is a miniature version available. I don't know anything about keeping them alive.

2. Can I fit tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, and basil in one container?
No. I would plant all of these in separate containers.
Will it crowd the plants?
Yes
Whatís the optimal number of plants in each container?
Mint, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries, rosemary are all about one plant per square foot,  basil five per sf.
3. Iíve heard of companion pairing and read up a bit on that. Are the plants listed above paired correctly?
I think on such a small scale this is unlikely to be relevant, but basil and tomatoes will be close enough anyway.
4.  Our apartment is on the third floor and surrounded by trees. Will that be a problem for some of the plants?
They need hours and hours of sunshine every day, like five, except perhaps the mint which can tolerate shade. If they aren't going to get it then don't bother trying as it is a waste of money and effort. Plant some shade lovers instead.
5. Are there other plants that are more hardy and are better options for first time gardeners?
Silverbeet, spinach, aragula, all herbs.
6. Are there any other things I should consider to ensure that our plants thrive?
Have mentioned a few things above like staking tomatoes, netting for strawberry fruit and straw

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2019, 04:21:37 PM »
baby tomatoes, mini peppers, basil, and rosemary in one large container, and strawberries and mint in another container. Oh, and a kumquat tree. We will purchase seedlings from a local nursery.

1. Are those good options for gardening newbies? As in, not likely to die on us?
Mint is like a weed so hard to kill, but it likes shade and lots of water.
Baby tomatoes do best if staked or growing up a trellis, otherwise they end up a tangled mess.
Peppers are easy if you have a long growing season, like five months.
Basil is easy to grow
Rosemary is a perennial so will be like a bush you trim each year
Strawberries are easy, but need to protect the fruit from birds with netting,and I put straw around them when fruiting to keep the fruit off the soil so less rotting. They send off runners so you can get more strawberry plants from them if you put another pot under the new roots, then use those ones the following year and discard the originals after two years.
The kumquat tree would need to be kept really small, which happens naturally in a pot, or perhaps there is a miniature version available. I don't know anything about keeping them alive.

2. Can I fit tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, and basil in one container?
No. I would plant all of these in separate containers.
Will it crowd the plants?
Yes
Whatís the optimal number of plants in each container?
Mint, tomatoes, peppers and strawberries, rosemary are all about one plant per square foot,  basil five per sf.
3. Iíve heard of companion pairing and read up a bit on that. Are the plants listed above paired correctly?
I think on such a small scale this is unlikely to be relevant, but basil and tomatoes will be close enough anyway.
4.  Our apartment is on the third floor and surrounded by trees. Will that be a problem for some of the plants?
They need hours and hours of sunshine every day, like five, except perhaps the mint which can tolerate shade. If they aren't going to get it then don't bother trying as it is a waste of money and effort. Plant some shade lovers instead.
5. Are there other plants that are more hardy and are better options for first time gardeners?
Silverbeet, spinach, aragula, all herbs.
6. Are there any other things I should consider to ensure that our plants thrive?
Have mentioned a few things above like staking tomatoes, netting for strawberry fruit and straw

Thank you! This is very helpful.

So it sounds like, based on all the feedback, my next steps are:

1. See how many hours of sunlight the balcony gets. Ideally, we need more than five hours per day.
2. If it gets sufficient sunlight, then plant basil and tomatoes together (maybe one or two basil plants at the edge of each 1.2 ft x 1.2 ft tomato container). Plant all the other ones in individual fabric containers.
3. If not enough sunlight, then plant mint, spinach, and other herbs.
4. Keep mint in the shadiest corner of the balcony.

Oh, and check to make sure the balcony can support the weight first!

lhamo

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2019, 04:32:27 PM »
I'm doing a pretty large container garden at the moment -- so far it is going well. 

If you can get dwarf cherry tomato plants those might work in the size containers you are thinking of.  I got a couple of roma tomato plants from the school plant sale and they are getting HUGE -- I have them in the largest containers I have and I still have to water them at least twice a day on sunny days here in mild weather Seattle because they just suck up all the moisture and start going droopy really fast.  I meant to plant the romas in the garden but got them mixed up with another non-dwarf pair of cherries I got at the same sale.  Those are also pretty big, so I'd definitely stick with dwarf varieties if you want to try tomatoes.  They seem to be a lot fussier than the other stuff I am growing, so I don't know if I'll bother with them next year.

Lettuce is great in containers.  Arugula has been our best and most popular producer so far this year.

I've done well with basil.  It doesn't really get going until the weather is reliably warm.

I've also had good results with green onions, carrots, and snap peas.  If you have a wall where you can put a trellis for the latter, that would be a good way to use some vertical space.

Since you have trees/shade surrounding you might have better luck than I did in China -- I tried containers on our south facing balcony one summer, but we were on the 30th floor and it was basically an oven out there -- I did get one or two small cucumbers and peppers, but everything else pretty much fried in the direct sun.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2019, 05:59:33 PM »
I'm doing a pretty large container garden at the moment -- so far it is going well. 

If you can get dwarf cherry tomato plants those might work in the size containers you are thinking of.  I got a couple of roma tomato plants from the school plant sale and they are getting HUGE -- I have them in the largest containers I have and I still have to water them at least twice a day on sunny days here in mild weather Seattle because they just suck up all the moisture and start going droopy really fast.  I meant to plant the romas in the garden but got them mixed up with another non-dwarf pair of cherries I got at the same sale.  Those are also pretty big, so I'd definitely stick with dwarf varieties if you want to try tomatoes.  They seem to be a lot fussier than the other stuff I am growing, so I don't know if I'll bother with them next year.

Lettuce is great in containers.  Arugula has been our best and most popular producer so far this year.

I've done well with basil.  It doesn't really get going until the weather is reliably warm.

I've also had good results with green onions, carrots, and snap peas.  If you have a wall where you can put a trellis for the latter, that would be a good way to use some vertical space.

Since you have trees/shade surrounding you might have better luck than I did in China -- I tried containers on our south facing balcony one summer, but we were on the 30th floor and it was basically an oven out there -- I did get one or two small cucumbers and peppers, but everything else pretty much fried in the direct sun.

Thank you for the tips! Iíll look for cherry tomatoes marketed for growing on balconies. I will also consider lettuce and arugula if there is not enough sunlight for kumquats. Those are good ideas!

Rosy

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2019, 07:05:01 PM »
If your climate is similar to Florida and you want to see some gardening success:
1. Use decent size containers min 14in - 16in up to 20in to give the roots room to spread and stay cool and moist.
2. It is all about the dirt - get moisture control soil to keep your plants happy.
Containers are important - the thick black ones from the nursery work well, so do quality pots - thin, cheap pots dry out too quickly and even if you water regularly it does stress the plant. You want happy plants:)
3. If you have at least five to six hrs min sunlight - you will be OK

4. The mint and strawberries like each other and they don't need full sun all day - you can put them in the shadier spot. To mix it up and make it more decorative, you can grow both mint and/or strawberries in a hanging planter and/or in a window box.
Nothing like having a couple of mints scent the air and eating strawberries from the window box.

5. Peppers love a lot of sun and they take a while to bear fruit, but if you like spicy I'd try a red chili pepper they do well and are super easy in a container. Buy the biggest containers at the dollar store - they have the cheapo, but nice looking plastic pots, just double them up to prevent the soil from drying out too quick.
I tried a new pepper variety this year called lunch box peppers, which did very well in a container, they are green at first then turn red. Lowes had them and they are not spicy - just really cute looking mini peppers. It isn't too particular as to sun and shade.

5. Tomatoes are prima donnas - they like to be fertilized and watered regularly, I recommend tomato tone, it is organic therefore does not burn the roots.
Look for "patio tomato" - at Lowes and Home Depot. Cherry tomatoes and Grape tomatoes are also good choices.
Pay attention to the label (before you buy:) - there are early varieties and varieties that take a long time to produce - it is nice to stagger short and long growing varieties if you have room for more than one.

Tomatoes and basil also like each other - basil is a good (easy) one to grow from seed, maybe try two different varieties. The sweet Italian basils struggle in the summer heat in Florida, but do fine in spring and fall.
If you have room for window boxes - seed a couple of different types of lettuces. Easy and pretty much guaranteed to succeed:) If it is too hot, give them shade or they'll shoot up.
 
If you can find a greek basil, tall and slim - it does OK in the sun, although the best of all is African Blue Basil which can get fat and happy and bushy and tolerates sun - it has a strong basil flavor with sort of a peppery slightly spicy flavor. 

6. Having some shade may not be a bad thing at all depending on your climate. The first year I tried container gardening on a balcony everything got fried by the hot Florida summer sun. I didn't know then that veggies do better in the spring and fall in Florida. Nothing survives the brutal summers.

7. Rosemary is super easy to grow, loves the sun but will do OK in some shade - just give it a nice big pot and don't over water it:)

8. You didn't mention flowers - but I highly recommend bright orange cosmos and zinnias for some color. Grow them from seed - very easy.

9. Last suggestion - if you like herbs - get some lemon verbena, it has a lovely sweet lemon scent (when you crush the leaves), you can make a cup of tea from the leaves or add it to fish, chicken and pork for seasoning. Also a great drink garnish and nice addition to ide tea.
Lowes will not have it - but a good garden center-nursery will. You can always look up a couple of garden centers and call them before you make that trip or you'll come home with a bunch of plants and none of them what you came for:).
It doesn't like the cold or windy conditions so put it in a sunny and protected spot and give it plenty of water:). 

The second-year I had a balcony garden I bought a red passion flower and grew it around a cheap $25 metal garden arch, the kind they use as wedding arbors. You can get them in white or in green (at Michaels and some garden centers) or spray paint it turquoise like I did:) - I used some X-mas lights and set up a mini table and chairs - nice spot to have a glass of wine or your morning cup of coffee.

Go vertical for privacy if you can or just use a trellis on the wall for peas or beans (probably too late for that now), but you might try sweet potatoes they like to climb, both the real sweet potatoes and the ornamental ones.
I found a rectangular outdoor table at a thrift store - it was long enough to take up the entire breadth of the balcony on one side. Then I arranged my plants, flowers and some doodads in an eye-pleasing fashion at different heights -  voila  - a pretty container garden.
A table has the advantage that you can store all your garden gear underneath - out of sight. Or make it the outdoor kitty condo or outfit it as a fun play space for a toddler with a carpet and pillows ...

If I were you I would locate a nursery that specializes in local plants and herbs and talk with them about what works well in your area.
Think evergreen - use evergreen plants to give your mini garden structure and good looks year around. Palms and hanging spider plants are super hardy, always look good and don't break the bank.
You can join local FB garden groups - you can trade, get plants for free or exchange information.
For the pots I'd definitely try one of those free cycle groups.

Sometimes you can find a gift basket of mixed evergreen plants on sale at the grocery store - a good way to get six nice plants or chat up a neighbor who has nice plants and before you know it you are leaving with an armful of baby plants:).
When you know someone is moving out you can often score as well and our local flea market has an awesome plant selection - from fruit trees to onions they have it all. 

Good Luck!

kei te pai

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2019, 08:41:04 PM »
Crystal rain (water absorbing granules) is good to add to your potting mix to help with water retention in plant pots too.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2019, 04:23:24 AM »
@Rosy

Thank you thank you thank you for your incredibly detailed response! I had to read it over four times, and Iím still digesting the information. Iíve added lemon verbena to the list of plants Iíll be purchasing.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2019, 04:24:51 AM »
Crystal rain (water absorbing granules) is good to add to your potting mix to help with water retention in plant pots too.

That is a great idea! Thank you! Itís been added to my shopping list.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2019, 04:38:31 AM »
Just for fun, attached is a picture of the balcony. The short wall under the window is 1.4 m (approx. 4.5 ft) from the black pipe to the railing, and there is a matching short wall on the other side. Iím thinking of putting a planter box on one side, measuring 3 or 4 ft by 1.5 ft, for strawberries and mint. On the other side I can put larger deeper pots with our tomato plant, and possibly a fruit tree.

It was overcast all day today so I was unable to clearly see how the sunlight falls on the balcony.

Rosy

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2019, 07:41:10 AM »
Lovely balcony, Freedom5 and thank you, all gardeners love to share and talk about their gardens. Lots of opportunities to get creative - your space is already beautiful, all you have to do is make it shine and you have a comfy relaxing space.
If you wanted to go all out you could get one of those tall, narrow straight down waterfall fountains for that weird corner - water makes a garden sing:).

I immediately saw a flower window box or make it the strawberry/mint combo you were thinking about in front of that window above the awkward corner and a tall skinny evergreen cypress in that corner where your pot is.
Otherwise, it is bad Feng Shui with a dead pot in the dead corner:) - it definitely needs a wind chime now that I've realized you may be in China. Just sayin'.

Love those black chairs!
Maybe a tallish lantern/candle in the center of a window box filled with lemon thyme or oregano for that window where your chairs are.
I could see a couple of fat, black or red bamboo rods flanking your chairs, creating a window surround and a quick (and cheap) focal point for your seating area. 
 
That balcony railing/wall is perfect for a row of window boxes, it looks like it is wide enough - voila a complete mini garden:) - but only once you made it through the first year and have a better idea what works in your location. ... and if you have the time and inclination of course.
Every garden and balcony is a mini habitat and if your plants have enough shelter from the wind and the elements, which you may well have, you and your plants will be happy.
 
One patio tomato plant and that dwarf fruit tree you want to try on the other side like you said and you are done. If the space is only wide enough for one I'd go for the fruit tree - tomatoes need a lot of attention, they're temperamental and die at the end of the season. A bare tree can be underplanted with thyme or trailing ivy and it will look great with fairy lights or small lanterns in the winter.

You might also consider placing a 5-6ft tall - three/four shelf unit on one of your walls - just wide enough to hold one pot on each shelf - a lemon verbena, one for basil and one for lettuce or a second verbena (if your climate is mild enough it will be perennial and survive the winter) or whatever else you wish to try.
A bathroom wire shelf works well and is usually the right size, right price:) make sure it is 15in square or so, you need the depth. Spray paint it shiny black like your chairs.

Have fun experimenting - your space really has lots of potential. Don't be encouraged if things don't flourish like you thought they would - learn from it, get advice, enjoy the process.
Sorry for the long post but I couldn't help myself:)

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2019, 08:15:32 AM »
@Rosy

I did not even think to use the window sills! That is a great idea. I also love your idea of the lantern.

The black chairs were left behind by the previous tenant - she has great taste. My contributions so far are the dead pots and the childrenís paraphernalia. As you can tell, my artistic eye is somewhat lacking.

I do have a little wire three-shelf cart that I can use for the herbs. It was also left by the previous tenant.

Iíll keep my eye out for a wind chime since I do indeed live in China. :P Summer is moving time for expats and the amount of tchotchkes they have is amazing to behold! I may even find wind chimes in the stuff the ex-tenant left behind. Iíve already found a yellow minion.

Is there some way to anchor the window boxes to the railing/wall? We occasionally get typhoons, and it would be bad if the plants fell off the wall.

Oh, I should mention, I also have a little square patio table and two chairs from Ikea. I think I can turn the living room balcony into the veggie fruit and herb garden with a small patio table and two chairs, and the other balcony into the flower garden with the two black lounge chairs and perhaps even the waterfall. The other balcony has the same layout and square footage, except it faces north-east.

Rosy

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2019, 12:08:40 PM »
@Rosy

I did not even think to use the window sills! That is a great idea. I also love your idea of the lantern. - Insert smiley:)

Is there some way to anchor the window boxes to the railing/wall? We occasionally get typhoons, and it would be bad if the plants fell off the wall.

I think I can turn the living room balcony into the veggie fruit and herb garden with a small patio table and two chairs - Great Idea!

...and the other balcony into the flower garden with the two black lounge chairs and perhaps even the waterfall. - That sounds flat out beautiful - see, all you needed was a little push to start thinking a bit more creative.


Quote
Is there some way to anchor the window boxes to the railing/wall? We occasionally get typhoons, and it would be bad if the plants fell off the wall.

That is a problem just like our Florida hurricanes. I just take my geranium planters off the railing in the carport and put them in the house until the storm has passed. If we just have a bad windstorm - I'll just take them off the railing and set them down below.

I'm a big fan of wrought ironwork which would look awesome on your ledge. You'll most likely have to go custom - which may or may not be expensive to install in China. I'd want a professional to install the anchors whether I just went with a bare minimum store-bought rustproof anchor system (not likely to work/fit in your case) or had a craftsman build something simple or fancy.

It all depends if your landlord will allow you to anchor or even have a window box - some places do not. The main thing is to remember that strong winds will cause damage to your plants and in the worst case scenario can turn them into a projectile.

If all you use are just the window sills - you are probably fine without anchors, but in a typhoon, you will still have to secure everything on your balcony incl your chairs:) and toys.....

That wire shelf cart sounds like a good solution for the herbs.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #21 on: July 17, 2019, 09:31:04 PM »
So...it looks like the west-facing balcony gets indirect sunlight pretty much all day. Itís bright, but not ďbaking in the sunĒ bright.

A heat wave has just started, which Iím guessing is not the best time to plant seedlings? So once the heat dies down, Iíll order plants and DD and I can get started turning our balcony into a food-bearing oasis.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #22 on: July 21, 2019, 05:10:31 AM »
Weíve ordered stuff!!!

Based on all of your wonderful feedback, we have ordered cloth planters and crystal rain (which is a lot prettier name than what they are called on Taobao, which roughly translates to ďwater sucking ballsĒ).

Plant-wise, weíve ordered mint, rosemary, lemon verbena, and basil. We also ordered spinach as that is likely to grow well in our bright but indirectly sunlit balcony. And because DD likes fruit, we will try our hand at strawberries and the kumquat tree. I also saw the cutest rainbow pepper plant and had to get it as an impulse purchase. I donít eat spicy peppers, but the thing was just so darn cute!

Weíve decided to forgo the tomatoes at this point of time, given the comments that tomatoes can be finicky, and the fact that they need a large pot and supports, which is probably not that complicated, but it sounds complicated to a gardening newbie. If our plants do well (or if one of them dies), we may consider adding cherry tomatoes to replace the dead plant (or to add to our flourishing garden).

This is so exciting!

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2019, 12:35:25 AM »
About half of our plants have arrived!

We transplanted the pepper plant into a larger pot, and mixed crystal rain into the soil. We also transplanted the mint plant. The cloth planters should arrive tomorrow, so we will transplant the basil tomorrow. The rosemary came in a little pot, but I have a feeling itís a bit small so that may also get transplanted tomorrow as well.

For right now, we will limit our plants to whatever we can fit in the cart. If it does well, we will continue to expand our garden into an oasis.

Below are pics of what we started with and the cute little pepper plant in its new clay pot home.

Kwill

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2019, 01:38:07 AM »
I don't have much advice because I am also just getting started on a balcony garden. I thought this blog was inspiring: http://66squarefeet.blogspot.com

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2019, 01:58:45 AM »
I don't have much advice because I am also just getting started on a balcony garden. I thought this blog was inspiring: http://66squarefeet.blogspot.com

Her garden is so lush! We are going to start small and add to it as we learn. Good luck with your balcony garden!

lhamo

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #26 on: July 23, 2019, 10:32:04 AM »
Those hanging pots are great - are those Ikea?

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2019, 03:49:50 PM »
Those hanging pots are great - are those Ikea?

@lhamo Yup! Ikea! Previous tenant used them to hold markers and hung them on an Ikea rod, but I noticed that they had holes in the bottom (suitable for drainage) and repurposed them.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #28 on: July 26, 2019, 05:15:55 PM »
Our small garden is slowly taking shape. The strawberry plants arrived yesterday wrapped in plastic and stuck in a hot stuffy small cardboard box. They look so sad and droopy. We soaked their roots in a growing solution, per instructions, and planted them but I donít know if they will make it. They are the five dead looking plants in the five white pots on the ground.

I forgot to soak the kumquat treeís roots in growing solution and simply planted it. Itís dropped a few leaves. We will see if it survives.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #29 on: July 27, 2019, 02:44:07 AM »
And...our little garden is done! A huge thank you to everyone who gave tips and advice! Iím sure our garden is simplistic compared to many others, but we are quite proud of our first attempt at gardening.

DD already asked to have breakfast on the balcony this morning, and Iím currently hanging out in the balcony, enjoying a home made cold brew coffee in the midst of our plants. Itís glorious here!

Kwill

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2019, 08:04:34 AM »
Wow! That was so quick. It looks great. It's wonderful you're already able to use it to have meals or coffee out on the balcony.

Actually, I read this post hours ago, and I was so impressed and jealous that I went off to figure out my own balcony garden so that I, too, could enjoy outdoor life. On other occasions, I had looked through lots of different tables online without being able to decide on one. This time, I decided to bring out a folding table I had stored in my cycle shed and wipe it down. I put some of the plants on the table, moved a couple out near my front door, and moved the rest to the other side of the balcony. It's a simple, cheap solution, but it was great. I had a productive and happy work time with my laptop and coffee on the balcony, and then I had lunch out there, too. I bought some seeds to plant chives and oregano, but I'll do that another day.

Thank you for the inspiration!

Rosy

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2019, 08:31:42 AM »
Cheering you on @Freedomin5 - looks good already. Love that ornamental pepper on the window sill.
You'll find the rosemary rather forgiving.

Can't help with the strawberry plants since I've only ever done them in a strawberry pot with holes in the sides, and due to the heat and lack of shade (at the time) they usually didn't make it for too long. I might try my luck again, in the fall - strawberry season for us is February. I have more shade now and a little more experience so maybe:)...

Kwill - too cool that you found yourself inspired to spruce up and green up your balcony for outdoor living and gardening.

Freedomin5

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #32 on: August 05, 2019, 04:21:50 AM »
Our little balcony garden is doing well. All the strawberry plants died so we are planting spinach instead. Our mint is growing like crazy, and the rosemary IS quite forgiving. I just water it when I notice the tips drooping and it perks right back up. Everything else is staying alive so far, and we have a few spinach plants sprouting. I splurged and bought an ikea cafe table to match the two chairs. The rug brightens up the space and was left by the previous tenant.

Iíll probably add to the ďdining cornerĒ as I find cheap/free stuff, but for now, it makes a very comfy space for morning coffee/evening drinks or dessert. Itís still too hot during the day to use much.

Kwill

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Re: Container Gardening HELP! (Gardening novice)
« Reply #33 on: August 05, 2019, 12:43:18 PM »
It looks very nice. It's too bad about the strawberries. It's good the other stuff is doing well.

I'm finding having a table on the balcony really lets me use the space more than before. Since I posted that photo, I moved the table from being along the wall to being along the balcony rail so that I can sit at it and look out into the communal garden. I lined up little pots on the side of the table along the balcony rail, so the table can be part of the garden, too. If I were buying a new table, I'd probably want one like yours, but this works pretty well.