Balcony Food Garden in a Tropical Climate - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 03-04-2011, 08:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm a complete novice to gardening because we never really had the opportunity before.  We've always lived a very nomadic lifestyle and have lived in some pretty small spaces so even though I've always wanted a garden it was never realistic. 

 

We've finally settled down now and will be moving into an apt with an average size balcony (it's big enough for a table, some chairs and some plants).  I'm not so much interested in making the garden pretty as I am in making it practical.  I'd love to grown some fruit/veggies/herbs out there but I just have no clue WHAT to grow!  We live in a tropical climate and mosquitoes that carry dengue do like to hang around gardens and any open water sources so that's a real concern for us.  I've been trying to look up ways to avoid them but I can't find anything. 

 

So does anybody have suggestions about what foods could be easily grown on a small balcony in a tropical environment and things that won't attract mosquitoes? 

 

Thanks!

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#2 of 6 Old 03-11-2011, 06:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Anybody???? Even if you don't have any experience yourself if there's a website you know of to point me in the right direction I'd appreciate it. 


 

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#3 of 6 Old 03-12-2011, 05:34 PM
 
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Well, my climate is much different, but if I were in your shoes I'd probably grow:

 

Potted lemon and lime trees - useful, pretty and I think help repel mosquitos

potted herbs - basil, thai basil, lemongrass, rosemary, lavender, cilantro - those are all useful, pretty, repellant

cherry tomatoes - a couple of these

peppers

green onions

maybe some day neutral strawberries?

salad greens are easy, would it be too hot for them? 

 

There are ways to hang plants too - recently saw some cool ideas using 'gutters' (like from houses) to grow greens hanging on a wall!  Such a good use of space. Might work for strawberries, too.   Like this:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/gardening/gutter-garden-growing-your-food-in-a-small-spacejuneau-empire-083350

 

Think about what you use all the time and see if there is a way to grow it.  Good luck! 


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#4 of 6 Old 03-12-2011, 05:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by artemis33 View Post

Well, my climate is much different, but if I were in your shoes I'd probably grow:

 

Potted lemon and lime trees - useful, pretty and I think help repel mosquitos

potted herbs - basil, thai basil, lemongrass, rosemary, lavender, cilantro - those are all useful, pretty, repellant

cherry tomatoes - a couple of these

peppers

green onions

maybe some day neutral strawberries?

salad greens are easy, would it be too hot for them? 

 

There are ways to hang plants too - recently saw some cool ideas using 'gutters' (like from houses) to grow greens hanging on a wall!  Such a good use of space. Might work for strawberries, too.   Like this:

http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/sf/gardening/gutter-garden-growing-your-food-in-a-small-spacejuneau-empire-083350

 

Think about what you use all the time and see if there is a way to grow it.  Good luck! 


Thanks so much for the suggestions and I didn't know that lemon and lime trees were mosquito repellent so that's a great idea! 

 

The gutter garden looks pretty cool too. I'm not sure if we'll have enough light for that, though, because DH has already declared he wants to put a hammock on the balcony too.  lol.gif

 

Cherry Tomatoes/Baby Spinach/Peppers were things we were already talking about growing so I'm glad to hear that they would work well in a small space. 

 

DD can also down strawberries like nobody's business so that's another good idea. 

 

The other veggies that we eat a lot are: onions, broccoli, sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and cauliflower 

 

 

I'm really a novice when it comes to gardening so any tips that anyone has for beginners or any good websites out there I'd love to hear about.

 

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#5 of 6 Old 03-12-2011, 07:29 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by physmom View Post




Thanks so much for the suggestions and I didn't know that lemon and lime trees were mosquito repellent so that's a great idea! 

 

The gutter garden looks pretty cool too. I'm not sure if we'll have enough light for that, though, because DH has already declared he wants to put a hammock on the balcony too.  lol.gif

 

<snip>

 

The other veggies that we eat a lot are: onions, broccoli, sweet potatoes, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, and cauliflower 

 

 

I'm really a novice when it comes to gardening so any tips that anyone has for beginners or any good websites out there I'd love to hear about.

 


So just to be clear....I'm not certain about the citrus trees being repellent....I am taking that leap since I've seen citrus oils in blends used for that purpose  :)  And besides, if *I* had a tropical garden, I would want those!  I'd also want an avocado tree, but I think those would be a little big for a balcony!  :lol:

 

Oh and if I lived in your climate I would totally want a hammock on my balcony, so I don't blame your DH!  Maybe you could hang things up higher?  I know sun exposure can be tricky in a covered space.

 

Most of the beginning gardening resources I know of are not really catered to the tropics.  You might go join gardenweb or something similar and ask for suggestions in the forums.

 

IMO though - when you are dealing with small space gardening, think about a few things....(and please keep in mind this is just my opinion about how I would approach this and how I've made decisions about small gardening spaces in the past!  Your situation may be completely different  :)  ).

 

1)Things that grow densely work well - i.e. you could grow maybe 4 dozen green onions in the same pot you could grow one broccoli head or one cauliflower head.  Those (latter) things are fairly space intensive....so although you *could* grow them in a pot on a balcony, that is not how I would choose to use the space.  Carrots and mushrooms could be grown densely.  Sweet potatoes would be interesting!  If you had room for a tall container (think large garbage can size) you might be able to do that.   Weight might be an issue though.   I've never lived anywhere warm enough for those, but I know that works for regular potatoes.

 

2)Think of things that are expensive.....Berries around here - esp organic - are quite expensive.  So I find ways to incorporate as many as possible.  Things that take up a lot of space and are really inexpensive to buy (like here, cabbage for example) aren't really worth it unless you have space for a large garden.  Herbs *that you use* are another good use of space, and generally last a long time, esp when you harvest some regularly (they grow back).

 

3) what can you grow that gives multiple crops....like greens and herbs that you can cut some from and they will grow back.  This works great here where I live, but it might be totally different for you where it is hot.  Things might bolt.  But there are likely other things you can grow that would have a similar habit.

 

 

Well, I'd also have to grow something really pretty like a climbing passion flower or some orchids just because you can  :)

 

Hope it goes well!  I'm no expert, just a little jealous of your heat and sun right now!  It has been fun imagining!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#6 of 6 Old 03-13-2011, 05:27 PM
 
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This is kind of late to be starting tomatoes and  berries. I live in a semi-tropical(Florida) location, and tomatoes are a fall-winter crop. Most of the ones you mentioned are probably going to bolt before you even get edible veggies. Where are you living? Think Peppers, okra, warm weather veggies. Also, you can look at www.kitazawaseed.com for some tropical veggies. I've had good experiences with the yard long beans.

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