California Gardens - The Year Round Gardening Site

Container Garden for your Balcony

Planting a container garden allows plants where you can't possibly find soil, as on a balcony or patio. Container Gardens are also popular when the soil has been tainted by industrial chemicals like lead or rocket fuel residues. The first important challenge is to find a medium to grow your plants in that is healthy and at least modestly long lasting. Potting soils as you find them in bags at a big box home improvement center are often sadly lacking. There is a lot of greenwaste and forest byproduct that is cheaper than cheap. Mineral parts and aspects in a mix that make it drain or compete with the alkalinity of the suburban water supply are sadly lacking. Fertilizer companies dose their soils with enough product to make a first flush look grand. But their products are water soluble and you are left with the rot of what is left after the first few weeks. The UC Califoria mix of old is 50% organic, 50% mineral. Pretty simple, look at the products available and you will be challenged to find anything that is close. Taking your storebought mix and adding sand, Dg, vermiculite or perlite in proportion will start to get you in the right neighborhood

Containers need to be big enough that keeping your plants from dessicating to dust while you are at work is a must. I have found that half whiskey barrels are great but expensive. 15 gallon containers for someone in the landscaping business are cheap but big enough. Almost anyting with drainage will do and a wilding kind of drilling moment can fix most any issues. Kinda privately thrilled by my drill.

I find that you can push the seasons with containers because small bits of soil packed in black plastic warm far faster than the native dirt does. So I plant a few of my early tomatos and other early season plants in containers in my own garden even though it is mostly in the ground. Knowing your frost schedule is key to knowing what to plant when. In Southern California the last nominal frost date is March 15. Sadly for inland valleys this date comes with some risk. Frost potential if you want to be sure it won't happen is closer to April 15. Soil warmth parallels.

For me pretty is not enough. I want to eat something spectacular. A Farmer's Market is a good start, but a home garden adds so much. I live in two residences one with a luxurient garden in an inland valley and in a condo with very limited dirt resources. I eat well from both and sometimes by sharing between them I get far better than I could from either. Container garden from the condo and a diverse soil garden from the other.

I love raised beds from their simplest to their most complex. Plow a field, turn a bed onto itself, build a raised bed from wood, stone, or whateever. I love composting from slow composting to a contained pile to a mechanized drum. Whatever gets it done. Time is on the side of compost. Give it enough and everything will be OK.

Recycled Power Pole with Acorn Woodpecker Cavity

Recycled power pole with Acorn Woodpecker Cavity Two acorn woodpeckers have just found thier recycled nest cavity. Find this in our garden image collection.