Space in Sydney can be scarce. Luckily, you don’t need a lot of space to work out your green thumb and start growing your own food in containers and pots – a balcony or patio will do.
Here are a few of our top gardening tips to get your balcony garden started:
1. Assess the situation: If you don’t have much space, you should check to see whether it’s suitable for the kind of plants you want to plant. Check which direction the sun comes from, whether it’s windy, warm or cool – these will all determine what will and won’t grow.
2. Protection from wind: If your home is high in the sky, you’re likely to be more affected by wind. Protect your plot by putting up a windbreak, a trellis with a tough climber could do the trick. You’ll need to water regularly in order to counter the drying effect of constant breeze.
3. In shine or shade: Often, a patio garden will get light from just one direction – figure out which way yours faces and plant accordingly. North and north-east facing balconies are ideal, as most plants will grow with this light. East and south-facing spaces will require shade-tolerant plants. Finally, hardy heat and sun-tolerant plants will thrive in west-facing spaces.
4. Get the most out of a small space: If you haven’t really got the room to move, maximise the vertical space with hanging baskets and pots, or fix some planters to hang off the railing.
5. Compost it: Waste not, want not – you can get a small bench-top composting bin for your coffee grounds, eggshells and vegetable peelings. When they’ve turned to compost, feed your plants with it.
6. More mulch: Mulch helps to retain water. Do a bit of hunting, you can often find it for free (as long as you can bring it back to your house yourself) instead of having to purchase a bag from the nursery.
7. Pair ‘em up: Companion planting helps keep the bugs at bay – think edible flowers such as nasturtiums and marigolds, which have an offensive smell to bugs.
8. Source your Inspiration: There are plenty of magazines and blogs dedicated to helping you get the most out your outdoor space. We compiled a list of some of our favourites a while back. Start here and the ideas should begin to pour from you!