Many of us have recently gotten into gardening, a pastime that can be creative, therapeutic, and rewarding. There’s nothing quite like growing and tending to your own plants and it can be even more enjoyable when you get to benefit from your hobby. If you’re new to gardening, you may want to start by cultivating a few herbs; they’re generally pretty forgiving, are easy to grow, and they’ll make a tasty addition to your drinks and meals this summer. Here we share some tips on how to start a balcony herb garden.
Assess Your Location And The Light Your Balcony Receives
Herbs tend to grow best in full sun or partial shade. You’ll have the best luck if your balcony happens to be south, southeast, or southwest facing and receives a good amount of sunlight regularly, but if your space is primarily shady, you can still give it a go. If this is the case, try mint, cilantro, parsley, wild garlic, or even wasabi! You’ll just need to make sure to place your plants by a sunny window for at least a couple of hours a day, so they manage to catch enough rays; the rest of the time they can languish happily in the shade.
Decide Which Herbs You Want To Grow
This is the fun part—we suggest choosing what to grow based on what you like to eat and drink! If you like to unwind with a mojito, grow some mint. If you love a margherita pizza or fresh pesto, cultivate some basil. It only makes sense to choose herbs that you’ll actually use and be excited to incorporate into your dishes and beverages. Fortunately, some of the most popular herbs are a cinch to grow, so you’ll have lots of great choices, including dill, fennel, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, and chives.
Round Up A Few Containers, Ideally With Drainage Holes
There’s no need to go out and buy a huge selection of pots, though you certainly can—you can even coordinate the colours and styles of your planters. To get started though, you’d be surprised by how effective the most humble containers can be: even coffee cans and plastic bottles will work. Herbs can do quite well in small vessels, so don’t worry about having to find large containers to hold them. Just be aware that plants are more sensitive to extremes when they live in small pots; they’re equally affected by dry and overly drenched soil. Adding a few drainage holes will help get rid of any excess water.
Buy The Right Soil And Follow Planting Directions
Many new gardeners don’t realize how important the kind of soil that you use is. You’ll want to buy potting soil, as it’s lighter, fluffier, nutrient-dense, and it dries out faster after a lot of rain (or overwatering). It’s best to start your seeds indoors and not move them outside until they are established and if you’ll be growing your herbs from seed, pay attention to the package directions. They can be surprisingly specific, and if you follow the instructions for planting depth and spacing you’re more likely to have herbs that thrive. If you’d rather see results sooner, many choose to purchase already grown herbs, known as starter plants, from a nursery or garden centre. This also works and isn’t cheating at all!
Learn What Makes Your Herbs Happy
It’s worth spending at least a little bit of time getting to know what makes your plants tick: what they like, dislike, and how to give them the best chance to thrive. Water regularly, fertilize occasionally (a couple of times tops, since our growing season here in the GTA is relatively short), and refresh the soil after a couple of months by turning it over and adding in a bit more potting soil. It’s also a good idea not to snip or harvest your herbs until they’ve grown to a height of at least 4 to 6 inches.
With these tips in mind, you should be well prepared to embark on your herb gardening journey! Don’t be afraid to experiment, one plant at a time, to see what works for you. Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to follow the KG Group blog for more great gardening ideas.