July 2009

If you live in an area with a relatively mild winter, you can plant fruit trees in late Summer and Fall in addition to Spring. The rules are more strict if you’re planting in the ground (it seems) but in my experience, you can plant fruit trees in containers any time they aren’t flowering or busy putting out fruit. And obviously those of you whose balcony is covered in snow in the winter, that wouldn’t be a good time either.

Check out these dwarf fruit and shrub varieties perfect for growing out on your balcony:

Columnar (or “Pole”) Apples

Photo by Lyubov

These apples don’t have horizontal branches, they grow fruit in clusters along their trunks. ‘North Pole’ has McIntosh-type apples, while ‘Golden Sentinel’ has yellow apples. The trees stay under 4 feet tall. Plant at least two trees as they need to cross pollinate. Check out this post with more info on growing apples in pots.


Photo by Martin LaBar

‘Sunshine Blue’ makes a great privacy screen because it’s evergreen and grows to 4 feet tall. In the Spring it’s covered with hot-pink flowers and in August and September, light-blue berries. ‘Top Hat’ is a tiny blueberry plant, growing only 18 inches tall and wide. But size doesn’t stop it from churning out tons of berries in summer. Again, plant more than one plant for pollination.



Photo by Hassocks5489

Kumquats look like grape-sized oranges. You eat both the skin and the fruit. You can also candy them or make kumquat marmalade. Grown in the ground, kumquats would grow slowly to 12 feet tall. But if you grow them in a pot you can easily keep them under 5 feet.

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A comment that Margaret Roach once made has stuck with me for awhile. To paraphrase, Margaret mentioned that gardening is often not an “in the moment” activity. You’re constantly thinking ahead, counting backwards, planning, reviewing… For example, even though it’s summer right now, it’s time to start thinking about any Fall vegetables you’d like to grow. You need to order the seeds or plants now if you’d like to have cool season vegetables when the time comes.


The pot idea I’ve proposed above combines cabbage and mint, which are traditional companion plants. Companion plants are those that improve one another when grown in close proximity. Mint’s aroma is thought to deter cabbage worms. You could try several different mints, such as variegated pineapple mint and dark stemmed chocolate mint. I also threw in some ruby chard for color and height. Just because you’re growing something to eat doesn’t mean the plants have to look utilitarian.

Two of these pots would look beautiful flanking your front door. Or you could use several of them in a line to delineate part of your patio. One in each corner would look great too!

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How to Attract Bug-Eating Birds To Your Urban Garden

July 26, 2009

There are lots of good reasons to welcome birds into your garden, but here’s one more: they eat a whole heck of a lot of bugs! You can easily attract birds that will gladly gobble up beetles, snails, aphids, whitefly, scale, caterpillars, ants, earwigs, and then some. For example, insects make up more than half […]

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Photo Essay of Novella Carpenter Event at Riordan Library

July 24, 2009

Adriana and I headed up to LA yesterday to hear author Novella Carpenter discuss her Oakland farm, which is the subject of her book Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer. We met up with Milli and her friend Amy and had fun mingling with other LA gardeners and bloggers. All-in-all I had a great […]

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Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden

July 23, 2009

I just pre-ordered my copy of Black Plants: 75 Striking Choices for the Garden by Paul Bonine. Can’t wait. It should be here in September, just in time for my birthday. Woot! “Striking, mysterious, sinister, and strange all describe the singular appeal of plants with black (or near-black) foliage, flowers, or fruit. For some gardeners, […]

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Remembering Grandma, Twice

July 22, 2009

I find that I enjoy remembering my Grandma’s life much more on her birthday than on the day she died. She was such a vivacious woman, it seems much more fitting to her personality to remember her on the anniversary of the day when everything lay ahead of her rather than on the day when […]

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Pickled Pepperoncinis

July 20, 2009

Yesterday I pickled something for the first time. Pretty exciting, eh? Okay, maybe it’s not that exciting. But it was fun and even challenging. If you grow your own vegetables, you should definitely give it a try. I had a modest first harvest from my pepperoncini plants, so I selected smallish preserving jars (16 oz) […]

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Dealing With Pests In a Container Garden: Aphids

July 19, 2009

I don’t have any science to back this up, but I think container grown plants are more susceptible to aphids than plants grown in the ground. It’s just something I’ve observed over the years. Luckily, this has been a pretty easy problem to solve. Photo by RobertGrubba.com I think the problem is two fold. First, […]

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Facebook Anyone?

July 16, 2009

Hey everybody! If you’re on Facebook, check out the Life on the Balcony page. Earn extra brownie points for sharing the LOTB page with your friends! 😉

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Ups-A-Daisy Planter Insert Contest Winners

July 16, 2009

I have been a bad blogger, I forgot to announce the winners of the Ups-A-Daisy pot insert contest. Whoops! We have two winners, and you all have one more chance to win a free pot insert. Kimberly and Jennifer, you won! I will be emailing you later today to get your mailing addresses. I can’t […]

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