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Aya
Senior Member
Posts: 171
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:05 am
Location: The Emerald City : Zone 8A

Balcony Garden Advice Needed

So this is a bit of a two-part question, though I'm hoping to learn a lot over this season, so I'll be better prepared for next season. Also, I apologize in advance for the lengthy post :lol: I've moved from having a yard and gardening space into an apartment while we are looking to buy a house..

I live 30 minutes North of Seattle in zone 8A, with a pretty decently sized balcony off of my apartment. I'm hoping to turn it into a little bit of a garden oasis if you will. My balcony is 4'x11.75'x6.5 feet (The wall on one side sticks out further than the other) I plan to put a grill and small patio furniture set out there, but essentially want to fill the rest of the space with garden veggies, herbs and flowers. I figure the wood slats that make up my balcony would make a decent trellis for beans and peas and vining flowers, while I might use fence top planters for herbs, while the bigger things like tomatoes and cucumbers could sit along the ground.

I'm looking for a good potting soil that can be used to start seedlings as well as work for up-potting/permanent container gardening. I'd prefer it to be organic, as I'm aiming for an organic garden. I had heard Miracle Grow wasn't the best sustainable option - but I recently saw that they now offer an organic potting mix. Would this be okay or should I stay away from it? So far this year I've used the Jiffy mix organic option - and found it very difficult to get solidly wet; do all potting soils take effort to wet?I'd like to learn about home-made compost - which in an apartment would be mainly veggie scraps and coffee grounds and the like right? (Should I stay away from composting since I'm in an apartment?)

Am I trying to bite off more than I can chew here? I'd love to attract birds and bees and such, without them eating all of my plants ( I don't mind sharing, but leave some for me!) and kind of just make this little space into something nice.
Any advice or suggestions on the above topics (or more) would be very much appreciated!

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hendi_alex
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Joined: Sun Jul 06, 2008 11:58 am
Location: Central Sand Hills South Carolina

Re: Balcony Garden Advice Needed

If a person were just using miracle grow potting mix for a single season, then I would say no to that option. We buy a similar product, sta-green I think, for about $10 per 64 quarts at Lowes. It is a good product, but we add about 30% perlite for our potted plants, to enhance drainage and to increase available oxygen. This potting mix gets recycled for years, so after year one, it is essentially organic. Going forward, we generally use our own organic fertilizer mix and add our own compost.

I love the salvias, many herbs, and various greens. All will grow well in pot culture. The greens will attract butterflies when they begin to flower. Also, many vines are work well in pot culture. Hyacinth bean, moon flower, clematis all do well, but require very large pots and copious amounts of water during any hot spells.

For the winter, consider violas. They do so well in the winter and provide a nice splash of color during the gray of winter. Also, in zone 8 cilantro, parsley, arugula, many Asian greens should do well all winter as long as temperatures stay above 26 degrees or so.
Eclectic gardening style, drawing from 45 years of interest and experience. Mostly plant in raised beds and containers primarily using intensive gardening techniques.
Alex

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Aya
Senior Member
Posts: 171
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:05 am
Location: The Emerald City : Zone 8A

Re: Balcony Garden Advice Needed

Thanks for the advice on the potting mix and the vines, I wasn't sure if the peas would wrap around the posts or not - but if I see issues happening I'll attach them for sure, right now my peas seem to be leaning towards the posts - although maybe that's because of the sun.

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