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Edibles? Ornamentals? Both? What Do You Grow On Your Balcony/Patio?

by Fern on August 4, 2009

in Poll

Lately I’ve been thinking more and more about converting my flower pots to food pots. I guess the idea of growing your own has really hit the national conscience. I’m curious, what do you all grow on your balcony or patio?

It would be pretty difficult to grow all your own food in such a small space, so do you think growing anything edible is worth it? Or would you rather make your space pretty with flowers and leave the vegetables to farmers? Currently I grow a mix of edibles and ornamentals. A typical container for me has a fruit tree and a combination of herbs and flowers growing underneath.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kaci August 4, 2009 at 7:49 am

You know, I’ve recently changed my thoughts on this one. Before, I was all about planting stuff I could eat. But now I’m thinking more about the bees. Since they’re having such a hard time in life right now (Colony Collapse Disorder), I’ve been trying to find plants that bees really love.

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Genevieve August 4, 2009 at 8:02 am

I love a mix. I hear that flowers next to tomatoes and squash really helps attract pollinators, which means much more food. Calendula, by the way, is fantastic for attracting pollinators.

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Louise @ Buddy Garden August 4, 2009 at 8:38 am

I grew more vegetables than flowers compare to last year and I think I’m slowing converting my patio into a edible garden.

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Elaine August 4, 2009 at 9:15 am

Excellent and timely survey, Fern. I grow flowers, vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

A couple of seasons ago I was convinced I _should_ grow only edible plants but like you, Kaci and Genevieve, I now realize even balcony gardeners with small spaces need to do what we can to support beneficial insects. And to be perfectly honest, I need to “feed” my eye with beauty, too.

I also learned that my balcony’s conditions are not suitable for a 100% edible garden — about 50% of it gets less than 4 hours of sunlight from spring to fall. So in the semi-shady back corners I have a small ornamental weeping maple, heuchera and black mondo grass. These plants also provide shade & coolness for my leafy greens during early summer, which may slow down bolting.

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invisiblebees August 4, 2009 at 12:25 pm

My garden is a reflection of my spirit — eclectic, mish-mash, mongrel (in all the best ways). I get bored with too much of one thing, so I like the mix of ornamentals and edibles.

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Kimberly August 4, 2009 at 12:35 pm

I started planting things because they look good, but it turns out, there are a lot of good looking edibles that work in containers :) Now I have a nice mix.

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Kimberly August 4, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Genevieve: you should look into companion planting. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_companion_plants]

Marigolds help both tomatoes and squash, and look good doing it.

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sdat August 4, 2009 at 2:50 pm

I answered flowers & foliage (b/c I don’t grow any vegetables), but I also grow herbs to eat. And some of my flowers are edible (nasturtiums, soon to be pansies/violas) but that isnt’ the primary reason why I grow them.

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Prue August 4, 2009 at 4:38 pm

My balcony garden is definitely more veg and fruit and herbs than flowers but I do have several varieties of florals mixed in, for usefulness in attracting bees and getting rid of pests and also for the fact they are just really pretty. Although I am aiming for 20 tomato plants this summer, along with a couple of other veggies so this could be a tight squeeze and only the best flowers will survive.

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Abigail August 4, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I used to be a flowers-only kind of girl. This year, the economic collapse frightened me, and I thought it would be a good idea to be a little more self-sufficient. So I started my patio garden with only vegetables in mind. I found it was impossible to resist decorating with flowers as well, though. (I think tomatoes are the ugliest plants!) As I do this more I’ll get smarter about the whole thing. I haven’t ventured into growing fruit yet.

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Cindy Bell August 5, 2009 at 8:22 am

You can grow potatoes in large plastic garbage cans (punch holes in the bottom). Tomato’s are difficult to grow in pots unless you grow determinate kinds. Cherry tomato’s work well. Lemons and limes grow well in pots. Green onions can grow in just a few inches of dirt. Peppers grow well in pots also.

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Adriana August 5, 2009 at 11:23 am

Edibles are beautiful! I’ve always been a fan of the potager.

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Dani in NC August 7, 2009 at 11:27 am

While I appreciate flowers in other people’s gardens, I can’t see myself working to grow something I couldn’t eat. So it is all edibles for me.

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