DIY: Balcony vegetable and herb garden

You really don't need a ton of space to start an incredible vegetable and herb garden. Our little balcony is proof of that! What you do need is a vision and a plan. Our vision was to create a space for as many herbs and vegetables as we could comfortably cram onto the balcony while still leaving space for our grill, two chairs and a small stable. Our plan came together out of much online research and frequent referencing of this book.

Here's how we started:

  • For the vegetables:
    • Spring in Chicago calls for heartier vegetables like lettuce, kale and arugula. We wanted to try beets, carrots and onions, but found out these vegetables require very deep containers. We ended up with Butter Crunch Lettuce, Spinach, Tuscan Kale and Arugula. Each vegetable was planted into a  four foot long window box, with four plants per box, evenly spaced. 
    • We also have a tiny tomato plant we're hoping will grow into its giant pot home. Apparently tomatoes require a very large and deep pot to prosper. Also, when you plant tomatoes, cover about half the existing stem with soil. They like to be buried deep. 
  • For the herbs:
    • Our cooking preferences informed most of the decisions around which herbs to buy, but we also read that some herbs prefer to grow together in the same pot. 
    • In their own individual pots we planted chives, mint and basil because these guys grow quickly and because we use them frequently. 
    • Rosemary, oregano, sage, thyme and lavender form a Mediterranean Garden we planted in a very large pot with the lavender in the middle. 
  • Resources and notes:
    • We used organic soil formulated for vegetables and herbs in all pots. 
    • For fertilizer, we like Dr. Earth Organic Fertilizer. Evenly mix in the recommending amount before planing.
    • The vegetables and flower boxes were purchased from one of our all-time favorite garden stores, Gethsemane, in Andersonville. 
    • Faux terra cotta pots, highly recommended because they're so light are from The Home Depot. The herbs are also from The Home Depot's rooftop garden center (the views are reason enough to check it out).