If you have ever tasted home-grown fruits or vegetables, you know how fresh, juicy, and nectarous they taste. Growing your own vegetables instead of buying them from the market is so beneficial.
You get healthy, less pricey, organic veggies full of nutrition, and the best part is that you know they are free of all chemicals and are safe for your family. You even make some extra cash by selling the produce to your neighbors.
The best part is that you don’t even need a large space for it; a few meters or a series of planter boxes on your balcony would do just fine. Starting your planting journey could be a little difficult, but once you get along, you will realize it is the most fruitful hobby out there. Let’s see how you can start a wonderful little garden with limited resources as below.
1. Choose the Perfect Location
Be it photography or gardening, the location has to be ideal—premium quality soil, small area, sunlight, and gardening tools should be your top priority. All of this can be arranged on your balcony using planter boxes, pots, window boxes, or hanging containers.
The pots must be fixed such that they are stable and won’t be knocked away by the regular wind. The right spot will let your plant soak sunlight to its full capacity, which requires at least 6 hours of continuous sunlight.
As for the soil, it is what forms your plants. It must be thick and rich with nutrients to help grow soft and ripe vegetables.
As a beginner, your gardening tool kit should contain the basics essentials. Start by buying soil, seeds, and a few pots with drainage holes beneath them. You will also need to have a spade, gardening shears, rake, and a water container.
It would be best to cultivate only smaller veggies that grow vertically to accommodate the limited space on your balcony and not overcrowd it. However, if you have a large terrace, you can easily grow
2. Start Small
Choosing the size is the most critical step in developing your balcony garden, the smaller the garden, the lesser the work. One common mistake people tend to make is planting too many things all at once. It is best if you only plant what you and your family like to eat and you can easily store afterwards.
Having too many pots in your garden can become difficult to handle and care for. It also leads to wastage of vegetables due to excessive production. Initially, five to six medium pots in your garden should suffice. If you plan on expanding it, you can add more pots or hang them on the walls later.
Make sure to leave a reasonable space between the pots. This way, you can easily weed and water the plants without having to push them around.
3. Planting the Right Vegetables
As a beginner gardener living in downtown Singapore, grow only vegetables that can beat the heat and are easy to handle. Some of these include long beans, spinach, cucumbers, and others.
But before you purchase seeds for your vegetables, you need to ask yourself, will your family eat this, can you store this, and can you take care of the plants? If the answer is yes, then you’re good to go.
Also, some veggies taste so much better when grown at home; you almost forget what supermarket vegetables are like. You should bear in mind before planting any vegetables that when the harvesting season comes, you need to be fully geared. If you put some dedication to the task, you may even build a self-sufficient home.
4. Prepare Yourself for Pests and Weed
Once you set up your small garden, prepare yourself to see pests and small insects appearing with time. If you’re dealing with large pests like caterpillars, it’s recommended you throw them away in a big sudsy water container. This is a safe way of getting rid of large pests.
However, dealing with a large number of insects and flies like wasps, moths, beetles, bugs, etc. can become pretty difficult. Only if it’s absolutely necessary, you can consider using an insecticidal spray to get rid of the pests. It won’t affect the plant’s health, but it is better to be careful when using it, and do try to avoid using it on leafy vegetables that you eat raw.
As for weeds, you need to stop them as soon as you see them growing. You can try digging them out, mowing them, or the easiest, add mulch on top of it.
Leaf mold, wood chippings, rotted manure, garden compost, etc. work great for suppressing weeds and help nourish the soil too. This makes it a win-win situation, but since they dry out after a period, you will need to change them every couple of months.
5. Constant Care
Since you have bright green, long leafy plants or even berries in your balcony garden, it would be silly not to expect birds and pests to make their way to them.
Birds can be rather tricky to deal with at times, especially when your garden is in an open area like the balcony. One of the easiest ways to combat them is to put up nets that cover your veggies and don’t let the birds peck on them.
You can also use Mylar balloons or hanging old compact disks which will reflect light very well. The sun will shine on it and since birds do not like the strong reflection of sunbeams, it drives them away. Besides, it is a good habit to check on the condition of your garden frequently.
The most important part of all, if you plan on producing ongoing, natural, and healthy veggies, opt for organic fertilisers versus normal fertilisers.
Depending upon your choice, you can opt for liquid fertilisers or solid fertilisers. Liquid fertilisers offer easy application as compared to solid fertilisers that come in the form of pellets or powder.
However, whichever of the two you use, it is necessary to read the instructions on the back of the label. Adding fertilizer without proper measurements can lead to wasting the product and damaging your plants.
You should only use fertilisers when you notice the slow growth of plants. They make the soil healthy, yes, but unnecessary use of fertilisers could cause more harm than good. Hence, always study your plants well before removing or adding anything to them.
Although starting your own little garden sounds difficult, once you get to it, you begin enjoying the process. There is a reason why gardening is said to be the most rewarding hobby; it brings you fun, experience, and fresh veggies! And now that you know how to start a small vegetable garden, it should be easy to take the first step.
That brings us to the end of this post. We hope this article helps you as much as we expect it to. Happy Gardening!