During World War II, the U.S. government urged American citizens to plant a “Victory Garden.” It was a time of food rationing. The nation was putting everything it had into the war effort, including shipping tons of food overseas. Millions of citizens responded by planting back yard gardens that produced tons of fresh, nutritious vegetables and fruits.
Food shortages may or not be a factor in the future in the wake of the current and sudden economic downturn. Many say it’s time to bring back the concept of the Victory Garden.
However, the problem is that America is far more urban than it was during World War II. For millions of people, there only outdoor access is their balcony.
The good news is that a balcony can be an excellent place to grow a variety of delicious vegetables. Many species of edible plants grow exceptionally well in pots. If you’re skeptical, consider this: A single tomato plant growing in a pot can produce up to a bushel of tomatoes.
Thus, one of the top plants that balcony owners should consider is the tomato, and it is No. 1 on our list of that which you can grow in a small space.
One thing to keep in mind is sunlight. Most tomato varieties require a lot of sunshine. But some species do well with just five to six hours a day.
Look for something called “determinate” tomatoes. These grow well with minimal sunlight. They also produce a smaller bush making them easier to grow in small balcony spaces. A 1-foot square pot is sufficient, but two square feet is better. Five-gallon pails make for excellent tomato growing pots.
2. Green Beans
Most green bean varieties grow likes vines. Because they always seek an upward path, the vertical profiles of beans mean you don’t need a wide flat area, which is perfect for balconies. The guard rails of a balcony is a handy structure for green beans to grab onto and grow.
They also produce an amazing amount of product. Just one bean plant has a 120 to 1 growth ratio. That means each plant will produce up to 120 beans. Another way to look at it is that just one packet of green bean seeds can produce up to 50 half-pint jars of beans if you pressure can them. Beans are also bulky and filling so they won’t leave you hungry.
3. Leaf Lettuce
Leaf lettuce is easy to grow in pots or deep, flat trays. It also grows quickly. Seasoned gardeners will tell you that lettuce is usually the very first item they start harvesting and enjoying every summer.
Furthermore, lettuce is a cool-weather crop. You can grow it year-round anywhere but people who live in warm climates will do better-growing lettuce in winter months.
Use a wide planter and remember that lettuce requires only shallow soil – five to six inches deep is great. The soil should be well-draining, too, so you need a good container underneath to catch the runoff. Frequent watering is a good idea for lettuce.
4. Pepper and Chilis
Highly productive and superbly suited to grow in small pots or containers, peppers and chilis are an excellent choice for a balcony garden. One caveat: They do require a lot of sunlight. This means if you live on the north side of a building with limited sunlight, it may not be ideal for peppers and chilis.
A pot with a depth of at least 12 inches is best. There are many varieties to choose from. Be warned that peppers are notoriously slow to start and sometimes tricky to germinate. They grow very slowly at first but fruit heavily when they mature.
Like lettuce, radishes grow rapidly and are among the first products ready for harvest. They’re highly suitable for balcony pots that can be small but should be as wide as possible. They are best spaced three inches apart. Furthermore, soil depth should be about 8 to 10 inches. They’re also a cool-weather crop.
6. Asian Greens
Some varieties of Asian greens that you can grow in your balcony are bok choy, napa cabbage, gai lan (Chinese broccoli), gai choy (mustard greens), and water spinach. They grow rapidly and do extremely well in areas of relatively low sunlight (about four hours daily). They do require significant fertilization and should be well watered.
Never underestimate the amount of food you can grow in a small space. In fact, you might be amazed. If you also want to preserve what you grow, consider learning to pressure can, freeze, or dehydrate your produce. When you know how to preserve your produce correctly, you can stock your shelves with weeks worth of delicious and nutritious food.