My Balcony's Bounty - Container Gardening


For many of us, outdoor space is a luxury. For some, growing in containers is an easy and accessible alternative to growing in the ground or building raised beds. Whatever the reason, optimizing space and resources will help you succeed in container gardening this growing season.   

I have done most of my gardening in containers and have learned a lot from my successes and my mistakes. After moving back to an apartment with a small balcony, last summer really tested my creativity in how to fit an entire garden into a few planters. Let's talk about prioritizing what to grow, maximizing space by growing vertically, and some options that are balcony and renter-friendly. 

Vegetables best suited for containers:

While it's true you technically can grow anything you like in a large enough container, with unlimited nutrients and water, here are my recommendations to set yourself up for success with growing in containers. 

Cherry tomatoes - In my experience, when choosing what to grow in an extremely limited space cherry tomatoes will give you more reward than larger tomato varieties. Almost all cherry tomatoes are indeterminate, and rather than putting energy into fewer large fruit, they tend to yield more, ripen earlier, and be more versatile. Off of two plants last summer I got plenty of tomatoes for pastas, salads, and snacking. All you need is one tall post per plant (I use t-posts attached to my balcony railing) and some twine or cut up t-shirts to secure the vines to the post as they grow. Be sure to prune your plants to 1 or 2 leaders for the best airflow. 

Strawberries - Growing strawberries in containers results in cleaner fruit with fewer pest issues no matter how much space you have in your garden. Rather than growing them in the ground and losing fruit to slugs, bugs, and rodents, grow them dangling over the side of a container to keep them clean and easy to harvest.  

Herbs - Everyone recommends herbs for small spaces, and for good reason. I like to use spreading herbs like oregano as ground cover for my tomato planters, to maximize space and to act as mulch and cover the bare soil. 

Pole beans - If you have the ability to create a tall trellis structure with a long planter below, pole beans are a great example of growing vertically to maximize your space. Besides being beautiful and low-maintenance, you can get a sizeable harvest in only a few square feet, rather than taking up 20 square feet with bush beans. Similarly, climbing peas are a great option for fall or cooler weather in containers. 

Small peppers - Many gardeners claim pepper plants like to "hold hands", and this has been my experience as well. They tend to do well planted fairly close together, and most varieties don't require much support, making them great for containers. I'm recommending smaller fruited varieties here mostly because large bell peppers require much more constant feeding to reach their full size. In contrast, hot peppers, jalapeños, and smaller sweet peppers tend to produce very well in containers. Peppers are also more drought tolerant than a lot of vegetable crops, which can be beneficial for container growing. 

*Note: if possible, peppers should not be transplanted outside until after temperatures are consistently above 15 degrees celsius. Colder temperatures can stunt growth and limit fruit production for the entire season. 



If you have a little more space, add some zucchini and carrots. These will provide many pounds of nutritious food with very little effort. It's hard to prioritize what to grow when there are so many more options than you have space for, but here is a place to start. 

This seems like a good place to remind you that you don't need acres of land to create a wildflower garden. You can start by converting your existing flower beds, or add a container for native perennials. Your backyard bees will thank you! 

Lastly, leave a bit of space to grow whatever brings you joy. My patio sunflower and window boxes took up space that could have grown food, but I never regret making space for colour and joy. 

What I'm changing up this year

In my 2024 garden there are a couple of things I want to do to maximize what I can grow in my small balcony space. The first is to add a vertical tower planter like a Greenstalk to fill up with peppers, strawberries, and herbs. This should allow me to multiple my yield using the same square footage simply by growing vertically. On this theme I'm also considering using the balcony railings themselves as a short trellis for some snap peas. If you'd like more content on trellising and vertical garden solutions leave a comment below. 

I'm also going to make sure I feed all my containers with an organic fertilizer on a more regular schedule. In containers it's especially important to feed regularly throughout the growing season because the nutrients in your potting soil get used up quickly by fruiting plants. Lastly I'm going to make sure to remember to plant for the fall to extend my harvest past the first frost. Kale, snap peas, and radishes are excellent for fall container gardening, if you remember to plant them at the right time.  

Share your tips for growing in small spaces with me! 

2 commentaires

  • Great article! Lots of helpful tips to small space gardening.

  • Great article! Lots of helpful tips to small space gardening.


Laisser un commentaire

Veuillez noter que les commentaires doivent être approuvés avant d'être publiés