My New and Improved Balcony Garden!

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It’s been such a productive week and weekend for us at home. While Jared was at work, I got most of the cleaning done that we’d been meaning to do for months now. Like getting of unnecessary junk in each room, reorganising and just doing a spring clean for the new year. 

My favourite part was definitely cleaning our balcony. It’s been looking pretty awful for some time now. We had pots of herbs that had died over the summer while we were on holiday, zucchini plants that had been destroyed by mildew in planter boxes and there was just not much life out there to be honest. It was really depressing, because we are actually lucky enough to have a large balcony (well, large for Sydney anyway) that gets all of the soft morning light, and none of the harsh afternoon heat. But the space just wasn’t being utilised. It felt like such a waste of space to not grow anything on it!

So on Thursday, I finally did a big clean up and got rid of anything dead, swept and regorganised our pots and planter boxes and made room for some new life out there. Then I spent a super wild Friday night looking up YouTube videos and Pinterest boards for ideas and inspiration on small space gardening. I got so into it! I think I lost a good couple of hours in the midst of all the inspiration! I wanted to go to the garden store so badly to get started, but unfortunately our local garden store wasn’t open at midnight on Friday for overly enthusiastic weirdos like me. It had to wait until morning.

After breakfast yesterday, I made myself a chai tea and sat down to draw up a little plan for my balcony.

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The only things I had growing out there were sorrel, marjoram, oregano, succulents, a big frangipani plant and some broccoli seeds I had planted earlier in the week. I also had lots of seeds leftover from last year’s attempt at creating a garden. It’s hard to see what’s written on the plan, so here’s a clearer list of what I wanted:

  • Planter box 1: sorrel, mint and basil
  • Planter box 2: marjoram and oregano
  • Planter box 3: beetroots
  • Planter box 4: radishes
  • Planter box 5: broccoli
  • Large pot: potatoes
  • 2x small pots: carrots
  • Black storage container: mesclun lettuce
  • Wire shelf: succulents, marigolds and lavendar

For everything I didn’t have, I planned to get seedlings for (except the carrot, beetroot and radishes, which I wanted to get seeds for instead). I also needed to get some more organic potting mix and compost too. After I did my little drawing, we went down to Flower Power to get what I needed. I love our local Flower Power, the staff are friendly, the store is huge and their loyalty program is great value. 

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They didn’t have any seed potato, so I had to scrap the potato idea (for now – I plan to sprout some sweet potato vines in the near future and plant those instead) and instead got some dwarf snap beans (a totally normal swap, of course haha!). I also spontaneously bought some Thai chill plants, strawberries and new gardening gloves (which were $3!!), I just couldn’t resist! 

I opened up a chilled bottle of cider, put on some funky tunes and had such a great time planting and arranging everything! It was just so relaxing!

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I used a black storage container to mix up potting mix and compost together and used an old tin pot as my scoop as I don’t have any gardening tools just yet. I was however, lucky enough to have plenty of spare pots leftover from seedlings and plants from last time, so I just reused them instead of buying new ones. I’m currently saving up for an Ikea trip soon to get some plain terracotta pots (they have super cheap ones there) that I can do some cute DIY on to eventually replace these plastic pots once the plants have grown a little.

To start off, I popped the mint and basil plants into the planter box with my sorrel. Then I moved onto the seedlings. For the Thai chilli and marigold, I split up the seedlings into two small pots each. For the strawberries, I popped them into a beautiful little terracotta pot my mumma gave me a while ago. I’m hoping that if they survive and grow, I can make a macramé hanger for it and hang it up so the strawberries can grow as little vines. 

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I put them on my black wire shelf that’s next to the door, along with the succulents I already had.

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Since the potatoes were a no-go, I had to change my original plan a little. I planted the carrots into the big pot instead, and the radishes into the smaller pots to leave room in the big planter box for the dwarf beans as they’ll need a trellis and bigger space. When I was watching all those YouTube videos, I came across one about an old Scottish man who grew a bunch of things in pots on his patio. He experimented with things like carrots, potatoes etc and they turned out really well. And so I thought I’d experiment too, seeing I had some pots laying around. Can’t hurt, right?

I bought two types of radish: cherry belle and French breakfast. (The carrots were just the regular kind).

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For the mesclun lettuce, I just filled another black storage container I had (I put holes in the bottom) with potting mix and sprinkled the seeds over. I put the lettuce, carrots and radishes between the BBQ and the first planter box down the far end of my balcony.

The last job was get my seeds in. I had plenty of little seedling pots laying around, so I used those. I planted the beetroot seeds, plus a whole bunch of seeds I had hiding away in my cupboard. There was parsley, coriander, chamomile and echinacea. I also had my broccoli seeds I planted earlier in the week in an empty egg carton. 

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The last thing to do was prepare the spare planter boxes for the broccoli and beetroots and fill them with soil and compost, so that they’d be ready to go once the seeds have sprouted and need to transplanted. With the dwarf beans, I just popped them straight into the planter box.

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I then swept, watered everything and called it a day. I was so proud of how it  all turned out and I was ready to sit down and relax for the rest of the evening. This morning I went to check on them, and it really filled my heart to see the balcony looking so much more lively than before and the sun shining down on it all.

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I propped up some of the pots to get some more sunlight too!

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Oh, and guess what? My broccoli seeds actually started sprouting today, how exciting! Such cute little buds poking through!

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After breakfast, I popped downstairs to the bottom of our apartment block. There’s  so many big and beautiful flowering bushes down there, and we discovered that lavender was one of them! Which was perfect, it meant we didn’t have to buy it! I cut off a few younger, less woody sprigs and brought them back up with me. Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, lavender is actually really good for attracting bees to your garden to pollinate your plants. I read a few conflicting articles on how to best propagate lavender, and I couldn’t decide if popping them in water to first grow roots was best or putting them straight into a pot. I decided to try both techniques! I also removed the leaves from the lower halves of the stems too.

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My balcony garden is now well and truly started, and I’m so excited to see how the next couple of weeks will go! Hopefully most of my seeds will have sprouted, and will be ready to be transplanted soon! I’ll be sure to post an update in about 2 weeks time to let you know it’s all going!

Wish me luck! (Lord only knows I’ll need all the luck I can get!).

Laura xx