How to Start an Herb Garden on Your Apartment Balcony
Growing herbs is a great way to add beauty to a balcony as well as incorporate new spices and flavors into cooking. For those residents with only an outdoor balcony space, growing an herb garden is ideal in that these plants don’t take up a lot of space and are relatively small to begin with. Check out the following ways to start an herb garden on your balcony:
Know the Sunlight
A large part of growing herbs in a small space like a balcony is knowing what kind of sunlight your space receives each day. Most herbs need 4-6 hours of direct sunlight in order to grow well. Before you purchase anything, take a peek at your balcony at different times of the day and consider marking where the sunlight hits your space. Nearby buildings or neighbor’s balconies may shade your own balcony so make sure that you know what sunlight your space receives in order to successfully grow herbs.
Decide On Seed or Starters
Herbs can be grown from seed which means that you would purchase seed packets at the store. Growing from seed can be a fun thing to do, you’ll want to purchase a seed starter pack to hold enough moisture to start propagation. However, the easiest way to grow herbs is to purchase starter plants that have already sprouted. Doing so will give you a good idea of which herb is which plant as well as more time to harvest the herbs as the season progresses.
Grab the Gear
You only need a few things to plant herbs successfully on your balcony. Just a few pots, potting soil, and herb plants are all you really need in order to get started. When choosing pots, it’s a great idea to keep in mind the potential of bringing your plants indoors once cold weather comes back to extend the season of fresh herbs. So you’ll likely want to choose ones that are easy to manage and won’t leave a mess. Choose herbs that you already use in your cooking as well as a few new varieties that look interesting while at the garden center. Read the tags of each plant to make sure that they will match the available sunlight on your balcony.
Herbs can be grown in small planters by themselves or consider grouping a few different kinds in a large planter like a wood crate or ceramic pot. Don’t overcrowd young seedlings but consider their tag to see how much room they will need once fully matured.
When you first plant a seedling it is a good idea to water the soil to make sure that it doesn’t go into shock. Consider the plant itself and what kind of soil it likes: moist or dry. Check soil on a regular basis to make sure that herbs don’t dry out and consider the weather to see if they got their daily dose of water from a passing storm. If the edges of the plant begin to brown or wilt, then you will know that you need to water more.
One of the toughest parts of maintaining an herb garden is knowing how and when to harvest the herb. Not all herbs are the same when it comes to harvesting. If you are growing basil, be sure to snip leaves from the top of the plant instead of the bottom. Herbs like oregano and mint can be harvested by simply snipping off the leaves anywhere on the plant. Chives can be directly cut down to the soil if desired as well. Do your research and know how to correctly harvest your herbs in order to get the most out of each plant.
Growing a balcony herb garden is a great way to use your outdoor space. It will brighten your balcony and provide you with beauty as well as fresh flavors to use in your cooking. Make a few decisions before you start like determining how much sunlight your balcony receives as well as whether to purchase plants by seed or starts. Pick up the right tools and make it a point to understand how to water and harvest your herbs to help make your balcony herb garden successful.
Katie Kuchta is a gardening and outdoor living guru, and self-proclaimed foodie. She can often be found cooking in the kitchen or on the hunt for the best tacos in Austin, TX, follow her on Instagram @atxtacoqueen.