Most gardeners generally agree that for small spaces and container-based gardens, leafy greens and herbs are the best introductions to growing your own food. Tomatoes can be easily grown in a pot, but you can even go larger. Kirschenbaum suggests going pretty, as well as useful: “For south-facing balconies, grow Little Bing cherry tomatoes, a dwarf variety that grows especially well in containers, while sweet peppers also do well on balconies.”
You don’t necessarily have to have a huge space to grow fruit or vegetables either. “Last year, I bought my daughter an apple tree,” Cumberbatch recalls. “It arrived in a four-liter pot and was already bearing two or three apples.”
Scouring flea markets for interesting items that might double as planters or extend your indoor design scheme to your outdoor space is always a good idea. Head to garden centers and home decor stores for inspiration, and choose pots and planters—maybe an antique ladder as a shelf alternative—and an overall color scheme. As Kirschenbaum advises, “The container size should be large and sturdy enough to hold enough soil volume for the plant and its root system. Plus, larger containers will retain more moisture, and containers always need more watering than plants grown in the ground.”
Whether you’ll be able to do some basic DIY and affix trellises or hooks for hanging baskets to the wall depends on your building’s rules, but you can always create different heights by adding a table or stepped plant stands to your display.
The “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra is also perfect for gardening. Cumberbatch notes that when it comes to design, galvanized metal buckets and baths look simple and utilitarian—but remember to drill holes in the bottom for drainage. She also advises using old favorites like terra-cotta which is “not only good to look at but retains moisture and is especially good on hot days.”
Keeping the “reduce, reuse, recycle” philosophy in mind, consider dedicating a corner of your kitchen or outdoor space to composting. “Composting allows you to feed house plants and balcony containers, reduces household waste, and saves you a trip to the dumpster,” Gail Pabst from the National Garden Bureau says. ”Something like this Ceramic Compost Crock is perfect for collection.”
If you’re thinking about creating natural habitats on your balcony, Pabst recommends planting Verbena flowers because they attract hummingbirds, butterflies, moths, and bees. Additionally, lavender is not only pretty and smells divine, but it is also loved by bees, so you’ll be doing your part to spread spring’s bounty from your little balcony garden to the world.