If you have a balcony or a sunny patio, there’s so many things that you can grow that you will love eating all summer long. So if you are a beginner gardener and you’re not really sure about this whole gardening thing, you can keep it really simple with just a pot of herbs.
So right here I have got some oregano growing.This is Greek oregano, which I love to use in marinades as well as on the grill. It has such an amazing fragrance to it. Anytime you’re cooking and you use fresh herbs you’re gonna really up your cooking game. Things will taste so much better, I promise, with just a little fresh herbs added to a dish. Another great thing about growing your own herbs is you can always get so many more interesting varieties than what you can buy in the supermarket. So chances are you go to the market and you’re gonna probably have one choice of thyme. Here if you grow your own, you can have some orange thyme or some lemon thyme and that’s what I’m growing here.
So I’ve got some orange thyme here and you can see it’s starting bloom, which makes it really pretty as well. And the orange thyme is just a beautiful fragrance to it. It tastes similar to just regular thyme, but it has little bit of citrus kick to it. And then I also have some lemon thyme, which you can see here, it’s variegated. So it has a beautiful green and yellow coloring to it. I love to use this just on top of a little lemon pound cake. This is a great recipe too if you haven’t tried that. I’ll put a link in the description.
I also like these varieties, which is more the mediterranean varieties of herbs because they don’t take a lot of water. Usually three times a week will do the trick. And herbs like to be picked, so don’t worry about coming out and snipping and think you’re not gonna have anything left for the rest of the summer. It actually stimulates their growth. So go ahead and pick, snip, they love it.
Okay, so now let’s get to the veggies. Now if you have a very sunny balcony, I’m going to show you three vegetables that love heat and will do very well. First up, an eggplant. Now this might look like an innocent little eggplant for this big pot. But I tell you eggplants really need room. You really only wanna plant one per container because after this thing gets planted, it’s gonna end up being about this big. So one’ll do you. And then you’ll probably get anywhere from like four to 20 fruit depending on how prolific your eggplant is. And a lot of that has to do with how you care for it. So, what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna take this pot.
Okay, I’m gonna get my gloves here out of my handy dandy little gardening stool. Is this not the coolest thing? I just found it online, I love it. It’s a stool and then it holds all your tricks. Okay, I’m gonna put on my gloves here. So I’m just gonna add a little bit of this tomato vegetable herb fertilizer. I really like Dr. Earth. I use mostly all of their products and I think they’re really great. It’s all organic and it’s great.
Okay, so and then we’re just gonna mix it in. Make sure it’s well distributed. And then I do like to add a little bit of water just to make sure the soil is nice and moist. And the thing with eggplants is if they don’t get enough moisture, you can end up with some pretty misshapen fruit. We’ve seen some funny ones in this garden, let me tell you. So you do wanna make sure that you have nice moist soil and that you have soil that drains well. And that’s another reason why I like to grow eggplants in pots because typically like look, this soil is gonna drain very well.
Improving clay soil
A lot of my garden, for years had clay soil, which took me forever to get rid of. And the only way to really get rid of clay soil is just by mixing a lot of compost, gardening for a lot of years and putting in cover crops. And over time that soil does improve. It’s definitely a project. But you don’t have that with a pot, so that’s the great thing about container gardening. You, you know, can put in that beautiful soil. Okay, so see how happy it looks right there. And then the final step and this is really important to do ahead of time because it gets really hard to do this after this plant starts to grow, is to put in one of these babies.
And this, just wanna be careful, is just a ladder form and what I like about is as the plant grows, it’s gonna grow up and hang on these ladders. So that as the branches start to grow out it’ll have a place where it’ll support the plant. So you definitely wanna do this ahead of time and get all the leaves sort of out from under it. Make sure you’re not strangling anybody. There, presto.
So peppers are another great thing to grow in containers. So you can see I have two here. This one, has a little bit of a head start. It’s a little bit bigger and I’ve put it in a larger pot and that could also be why. Sometimes if you plant things in pots, will take up the space that they actually have to grow. Peppers love sun, so they’re really at home on a balcony. And they need to be watered probably every other day or so in the summer time. Now if you can’t find the ladder forms to support your pepper plant, you also could just simply use a stake like I have here.
You basically just wanna find the main branch of the plant, stick it in the soil and then attach it in some way. I actually just discovered these little Velcro ties, which I think are pretty genius. And you just kinda snip a little bit of that off and then find the main branch and you just wanna support it and this is so your plant can grow upright and not get all flopsy mopsy on you. There, see, and you can see a little pepper is on it’s way. You see that bloom? That’s what the bloom of a pepper plant looks like and that is going to turn into fruit, probably in a few weeks or so.
Growing Cherry Tomatoes
Lastly another great vegetable to grow in a container is a cherry tomato. They are fantastic because they will give you little tomatoes all summer long. And here you can see I have this beautiful cherry tomato that started out as a little plant and I planted it in one of these. This is called a Geopot and I recently just discovered these at this tomato event I went to this year. This what it looks like. Actually it looks like a big bag. It is so light and you can plant tomatoes in here and what I love about this, for any of you city dwellers. You can just bring this up to your apartment and put this right on your balcony. No need to have to haul terracotta pots up to your balcony.
It reminds me of my sister and I. Our first apartment. We had a little garden on a balcony and we hauled up all those terracotta pots and the potting soil. Had I had this, I would have been so much happier. But this is great and so far so good. What’s nice about it is it allows the roots to grow up this way and apparently it’s gonna give me more tomatoes. So we’ll see, I haven’t tried it before, but so far so good and I think it’s very promising. It’s already started to bloom those nice little flowers there and those blooms will eventually set into fruit. You can see I have some fruit that is already forming. Now you can see I’ve put a cylindrical form on this cherry tomato.
How to support tomatoes
That’s another key tip. You do something to support and because they do grow a lot I do like to have something that’s gonna kinda keep it in a little cage as opposed to taking a bunch of stakes and sticking that in your pot. That could get a bit unwieldy with everything kind of growing in every direction. Now once your cherry tomato start to either bloom or set fruit, you do wanna give it a little bit of fertilizer. So the thing about tomatoes is you kinda need to keep them fed throughout the summer if you wanna have a lot of fruit. Now typically anytime the tomato is doing something, whether it be blooming or setting fruit, I do give it a little bit more food.
So you use the same stuff that you used on your eggplant and all you’re gonna do is just little small amount. Something like maybe this, maybe a quarter cup. And then you do wanna spread it around. So you can use like a little claw or you can even use your hands and just give it a good rake. And there you go.
So we’ve covered three veggies, now let me show you three fruits that you could also grow on a balcony. So first up, the blueberry plant. Blueberries are great thing to grow in pots. You can see here I have my little blueberry plant. It’s so happy this year. You can see all this fruit that’s setting. I think the reason why I had a lot of fruit this season, it’s never looked like this, is because I added some lavender plants. So I was having some problems with some of my fruit setting I also have apricot trees and plum trees on the other side of the garden and I haven’t seen fruit in a very long time.
And somebody recommended, get some lavender plants because it’ll attract the bees and it definitely has done that. I have many more bees in this garden this year than I’ve ever had and I see many of my plants setting more fruit. So I do think there’s something to that. So if you have room on the balcony next to your blueberry plant, get a little plant of lavender, maybe that’ll do the same trick. The thing to know about blueberry plants is they do like very acidic soil. So when you get to your nursery, make sure you tell them that you’re planting a blueberry plant and that you want some soil that’s gonna be good for that and they’ll give you a very acidic soil.
But one of the things that I have also done that I think has also contributed to the health of this plant is every so often, I’ll feed it a little coffee because coffee is so acidic. So I’ll take my morning coffee, these are my grounds from this morning and I will leave them as is. And then I’ll just fill this up with a little bit of water. See, even plants need their morning coffee. There we go. And that does the trick. It seems to be very happy.
Another great fruit that does really well in a container is a strawberry plant. So here you can see I have them planted in a strawberry pot. And a strawberry pot has all these different pockets all the way around it that allows for planting individual plants. Then it looks really beautiful once all the strawberries start appearing. There’s a couple of different things to know about strawberries and if you haven’t seen it already, I encourage you to click the annotation and you can head to my strawberry video and it’ll tell you everything you need to know about growing strawberries.
Lastly, the lovely kumquat tree. This would be another great idea to have a little fruit tree on your balcony. I love a kumquat because I think they’re really decorative. I’ve cut mine or trimmed it in a way to make it look like a topiary. So in the winter, it does a little bit better and this is a bit fuller. But I do get kumquats twice a year,once in the winter and once in the spring. So what’s a kumquat you might ask. Well, this is what it looks like. You can kinda see some fruit is starting here. They’re green now, but they will turn orange probably in another few weeks. They are the opposite of an orange. So it’s a really interesting fruit.
They’re actually sweet on the outside and bitter on the inside. So my girls and I like to have a little contest where we’ll come out here and pop them in our mouth, you can eat them just like that, rind and all, and we see who can eat and not make a sour face. As far as care, they’re pretty low maintenance, especially out here in California ’cause citrus does so well. I water it about three times a week. I do feed it about once a month. So citrus trees in general are pretty big feeders so they do need to be fed about once a month with a good citrus fertilizer. And you might also need a little stake just so that they grow upright. It’s good to stake them. And then you can see I’ve sort of attached it herewith some plastic twine.
So there you have it, my picks for things that are really simple and easy to grow on a balcony in containers. Certainly this is not an exhaustive list of how to grow fruit and vegetables in cntainers.