A beginner’s guide to balcony container gardening
Thanks to the Instagram popularity of pretty plants, gardening is this spring’s coolest hobby. And with the right tips, Toronto’s backyard-deprived condo-dwellers can nurture tons of beautiful blooms and tasty veggies right on their balcony (letting amateur green thumbs expand their repertoire beyond a collection of indoor succulents). Here, how to perfect four kinds of portable gardens.
Best buys: Balcony herb gardening is a great way to kickstart your home-growing game. Many garden centres sell pre-planted container herb gardens, usually comprised of some combination of basil, parsley, rosemary and sage (a.k.a. the workhorses), which can easily improve dinnertime as well as your outdoor space.
Tips: Water often, buy a planter with a decent drainage system and position your herbs where they can get the most direct sunlight possible.
Splurge-worthy find: This artisan-crafted copper watering can from Mjölk, which has excellent precision in case some herbs need more moisture than others. $475.
Best buys: You can’t go wrong with ferns: the hardy plants come in a variety of colours (from vibrant greens to bright purples) and can be planted in standing planters or hanging baskets. They also don’t need a lot of direct sunlight and can survive without daily watering.
Tips: In nature, ferns grow in rocky soil, so they’re best planted in shallow containers.
Splurge-worthy find: Wildwood’s ultra-moisturizing, all-natural healing hand salve, which is handcrafted in Toronto using pure ingredients like coconut oil, cinnamon bark, beeswax and ginger. $18.
Best buys: Begonias, impatiens or bright, bushy geraniums are popular choices for decorative outdoor containers—especially since, if you keep them alive and well all summer, they can be easily transferred indoors during colder months.
Tips: When blooms die, clip them off. This is called “deheading,” and will encourage new flowers to grow.
Splurge-worthy find: An adjustable wide-brimmed straw hat, to ensure you look the part of the boho gardener. $64.
Best buys: Tomatoes are a natural fit for container gardening, as they can be grown in small(ish) pots and planters—and there’s nothing quite like the taste of a vine-fresh tomato. But don’t be afraid to experiment: those with a bit more space (and ingenuity) can try their hand at cucumber and zucchini plants, which can be trained to grow vertically on a trellis.
Tips: If you have dreams of a bountiful late-summer tomato harvest, there’s really only one tip: water, water, water! (And stake.) Cucumber and zucchini plants should get their own pot, and should be given a stake or trellis while they’re still young.
Splurge-worthy find: Vintage-inspired gardening tools (including a trowel, hoe and rake), handcrafted from carbon steel and American black walnut. $174.