Is container gardening in my future ?

jbest123(Zone 5 PA)November 27, 2012

I am 75 and will probably have 1-2 years of gardening at my current home. A high rise balcony is probably in my future. I checked the Balcony Gardening thread but it is mostly about porch gardening tropical/house plants. I am more interested in vegetable gardening in containers on a balcony. I do not know where the pit falls are or where I will need help. Any help/information will be appreciated. John

Here is a link that might be useful: John's Journal

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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

After looking at the link, that balcony is going to be quite a change. I would start getting that grandson to make up some gritty mix if the thought of going completely hydroponic is right out. I have grow some things in containers as "to waste" hydroponics as experiments and it works out quite well. You don't have to fiddle with recirculating pumps and sumps and such that way. You just mix and water. With organic potting media at some point you have to dispose of the organic component and bring more in. That's easy with a yard, high rise balcony not so much. With a completely inorganic media you just have to sterilize occasionally. The downside is that you can't rely on nutrients coming from the media. You have to supply all of the nutrients yourself in the irrigation water, so the margin of error gets smaller.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:02PM
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edh87(7a - Durham, NC)

Hi John,

I'm a new gardener, but I do vegetables on a balcony. Some things that I have found to make a difference: Get a balcony that faces South, it gets a ton more sun. A top floor balcony is best because then it isn't shaded by the balcony above it. Maybe check out the balcony before renting to see how much sun it gets. Use lightweight planters (I use plastic storage bins) so as not to have too much weight on your balcony. The higher up you are, the less likely you are to have bees/birds to pollinate. When I was on the 9th floor, I had to hand pollinate all of my squash and cucumber; there was zero natural pollination. Hanging planters, planters that fit on the deck railing and trellising may allow you to squeeze in more plants. Depending on how much money you have and where you are, those apartments with rooftop terraces look pretty awesome for gardening (but expensive :(). That's all I can think of right now, good luck!

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 8:11PM
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emgardener

Hi John,

I've been growing veggies in tubs on a deck with only 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. Tried and still try lots of different methods. Organic methods have actually produced the best results for my situation.

I enjoyed reading about your paper mache soil blocks. Now I don't need to try it out :)

Here are some links that might be interesting:

http://lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com/2012/09/eggplant-stump-branch-pot-comparison.html

http://lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com/2012/09/pepper-containers.html

http://lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com/2012/08/zero-cost-organic-containers-update.html

http://lowcostvegetablegarden.blogspot.com/2012/08/zero-cost-organic-container-experiment.html

    Bookmark   November 27, 2012 at 9:29PM
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jbest123(Zone 5 PA)

nil13 Thanks for the post. I think container/balcony gardening will be enough of a change for now. Hydroponics may be in the future though.

edh87 My roots run deep in the aria and there is a high rise close by with South facing balconies but I don�t know if there will be a waiting list.

emgardener I bookmarked the links, very interesting info. Is that your Blog.

Here is a link that might be useful: John's Journal

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 9:56AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I understand people's aversion to hydroponics. They hear hydroponics and they imagine some overly complicated system with recirculating pumps and big containers of nutrient solution that have to be checked constantly with a pH meter. It doesn't have to be that complicated. If you check out my post on the cacti and succulents forum entitled Southern California problems, you will see a large jade plant that I am storing "hydroponically".It's really just in a wood box with gravel and calcined clay in the vacant lot next door. There isn't even any irrigation system to it. I just water it every few days with a watering can that has some fertilizer in it. It really isn't any different than what I do with containers with organic media in them. You just need to use higher quality fertilizer that isn't urea based. But that's about it. You don't even need to get all fancy with the clay balls or rockwool or whatever. I just use a box of rocks.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 11:57AM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I understand people's aversion to hydroponics. They hear hydroponics and they imagine some overly complicated system with recirculating pumps and big containers of nutrient solution that have to be checked constantly with a pH meter. It doesn't have to be that complicated. If you check out my post on the cacti and succulents forum entitled Southern California problems, you will see a large jade plant that I am storing "hydroponically".It's really just in a wood box with gravel and calcined clay in the vacant lot next door. There isn't even any irrigation system to it. I just water it every few days with a watering can that has some fertilizer in it. It really isn't any different than what I do with containers with organic media in them. You just need to use higher quality fertilizer that isn't urea based. But that's about it. You don't even need to get all fancy with the clay balls or rockwool or whatever. I just use a box of rocks.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 12:04PM
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jbest123(Zone 5 PA)

I don't have any aversion to hydroponics, it is just that I have been gardening organically for 55 years and in 100% compost for the last 8 years. I want to make as little of a change as possible. But in the future, who knows.

Here is a link that might be useful: John's Journal

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 12:24PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Ahh, well then I suggest you check of tapla's (Al's) gritty mix recipes and container media discussion threads. I think it's a great bridge between the organic compost method and pure inorganic hydroponics. The mix lasts a long time without compacting and messing up drainage. I would post a link but it's a bit of a pain from my mobile.

    Bookmark   November 28, 2012 at 1:56PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Nil.. i will do this for you!!!

Good Luck John!!!

Sounds like you already know what you want and i love that you are ready to start!! Please keep us posted!! Love to see pics!!

Laura

Here is a link that might be useful: Container Soila- Water Movement ANd Rntention XV

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 12:45AM
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