Tuesday, March 10

Episode 1: Gardening on a Tiny Balcony-Deciding what to do

You know that saying 'life just happens?' Well,  like many other gardeners I have had to downsize and give up what I considered a good-sized garden. I was just about to bask in the sun, kicking up my feet and gazing at my finished rose garden when 'Life happened' and I moved into an apartment with a tiny 4ft by 4ft balcony. Some people call them a Julliette Balcony. 

Laying down sod

Yes, that is grass sod going down on the floor of the balcony for my sweet dog. He and I are getting older and after 2am pee trips are now out of the question.  I bought the sod from a company selling it for dogs. The idea is that you get the sod delivered every week or so. I don't know what I was expecting, but a heavy piece of sod did not come to mind. I did not see anything special about the sod other than the fact that it came with a warning not to water it. I laid the sod over a sheet for now until I get a better idea. I did purchase a tray with the same company that came a week later. I found the sod impossible to lift at that point so  I replaced it a second time.  However, that was against my best judgment as I found the quality sketchy and just too darn expensive. I found some DIY projects by googling it.  Right now I am re-seeding with grass right over their sod. Buying two small stepping stones is on my list of future projects so I do not step on the grass.

Bamboo privacy fence with lights in the evening

The next project was creating privacy and safety. I just did not feel grounded with the open railings as I am 5 flights up and I have a health condition where my balance is off. Not to mention that I have a free-roaming rabbit. I got the fencing at Lowes for under $30. It only took one roll to enclose the space. I secured the bamboo with jewelry wire that I had on hand. I can still look out but all three sides are fenced in. I think long zip ties would work a little better. Then I added two cords of garden lights from Fred Meyers. You can just use fairy light, but I didn't have any at home anymore, I ended up spending more for the lights than I wanted to even though they were on sale. Each set was around $20. 
You can see one of my Clematis in the corner
I knew I had to go with light containers for plants so I ordered these grow bags from Amazon. It was a set of 5 for under $20.  Those would be the bring kelly green bags that you see in the photo. Oh, how I regret not sticking to the traditional black ones in a smaller size. These are so big that you could plant a tree in them. No space for a tree on my tiny balcony. I also bought a few gray pots and window boxes that were on sale from Fred Meyers. Yep! they don't match too well, but I am thinking that when the plants or the "stars" of the balcony appears, no one will notice what they are in. If I have the time I could also re-pot everything My tip is to decide on your colors beforehand and make sure not to buy these items to early when selection is poor.

Gray window boxes
One of my earlier projects was to decide what  I am growing, and the theme of the garden. I will discuss this in detail in the next few weeks.
But for now, you should know that  I am mostly sticking to edible plants due to my rabbit using the space sometimes. I might be able to get away with some non-edibles if I place them high up on the bamboo. I potted up two early flowering Clematis vines that will climb up the bamboo. One is white and the other is Peach. Clematis like their roots to be a  bit damp but their tops in the sun, That is what I have always read about them in gardening books. They can stand a little shade. I hope so because the privacy fence does change the light level from intense sun to hot shade.  Before I bought any plants I made a plant list. With a tiny balcony, you cannot overbuy plants. You really have to limit your selection too. Research plants growing habits,  but don't be scared to break the rules. And do not be tempted to shop early in the season when they are just putting out plants. Wait until your selection is greater. 

Close up of light and wall grow bags
Another growing area is the wall next to the back door. It's a challenging wall because I can't use nails or screws on it. They put some kind of tile on the wall.  I bought some wall grow bags in black and planted Strawberries for now, but I have a feeling it will be too shady. I attached the bags with those plastic hangers that don't leave a mark, but they fell down after a day. Only one set of the wall grow bags remain up. I had to move the others onto the privacy fence by tieing them with garden twine. They were under $20 for all 4 wall grow bags sections with 6 grow pockets from Amazon. I will see how they work out this summer.

I will attach the fountain to the wall

Yes, it is a mess right now as I am still putting together the structure of the small balcony garden.  It's a bit embarrassing, but I think it will come together and you will be surprised. In the photo, you can see an old fountain that I would like to mount on that wall, but I wonder if it is just too big and heavy. What do you think? Other tasks include more planting, shopping or making the small stepping stones and even more if it warms up. Stay tuned in for more updates and video clips of my progress.

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