Hours of sunlight, part shade and full shade that my balcony /
small space gets (don't try to grow tomatoes on a North facing
Avoid using black containers. They heat up very fast and will
dry out sooner on hot or windy days.If you "cook the soil" it will
cause root damage to your food plants.
Use a good 'potting soil' or 'soilless mixture' that contains
perlite, and dolomite lime which is less dense than garden soil. It
will promote good root growth and won't be as heavy as earth on the
Select the right plants for the growing conditions (full sun,
part shade, full shade)
Use as large a container as possible. Do not go over the safe
weight load for your balcony.
Use reservoir water irrigation methods so that pots do not dry
out during the day. This can be simple plant saucers, special
planters that have a reservoir built into them or bottles filled
with water and inserted into the ground to slow release water.
Keep soil in pots consistently moist (don't let them dry out or
get too much water! Plants don't like the big changes!)
Inconsistent moisture will cause plants to produce much smaller
Protect your containers from wind with screening. High winds on
higher floors of buildings can knock over containers with a lot of
greenery or can cause greenery to give more of the plants' natural
moisture out into the air (excessive transpiration). This stresses
the food plant.
Fertilize the plants in containers regularly (every week) with
an organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion, sea kelp extract,
compost tea or sprinkle with compost from worm castings throughout
the growing season. There is much less soil in a container and the
plant will absorb the soil's nutrients quickly so you must replace
Replace the soil in the containers each growing season. The soil
will be exhausted of nutrients at the end of the season.
Fresh soil prevents potential fungi, bacteria or viruses to
build up in the soil that would affect the next plant living in the
Clean pots out thoroughly and store them where they will not
collect snow and water that might cause them to crack over the
Consider learning how to do indoor vermiculture (worm
composting) with vegetable peelings and shredded newspaper. The
worm castings that result are a terrific source of nutrients for
Some gardeners use fish tank water to provide a good, though
inconsistent, source of nutrients for your container garden
Create a daily watering habit, lower your stress by preventing
plant stress, and stayed tuned to the weather report for sizzling
temperatures or wild storms.