Garden envy: A common ailment amongst Space Coast condo dwellers who long for a patch of dirt in which to work their botanic magic.
And with the arrival of spring the symptoms only get worse. But they don’t have to.
Whether your condo has a balcony or a patio or even just a front porch, you can garden; all it really takes is some know-how and a bit of creativity.
It’s all about the light
One of the first things to consider when creating your little patio paradise is to determine how much sun the area gets.
Keep an eye on your balcony throughout the course of a day. Does the sun shine on the area most of the day, half of the day or not at all? Is it morning sun or afternoon sun?
Shady spots can be challenging for many plants to thrive in, but it’s not the case for all of them. After all forests are full of foliage that do quite well in the shade of giant trees.
The trick is to do some research or speak with a gardening professional at the local nursery. You may need to find plants that thrive in the shade and also do well in a container.
If your balcony tends to have a lot of shade you might consider the gorgeous foliage-bearing coleus (Coleus spp.), the tuberous begonia (Begonia Tuberosa Group), the adorable fuschia (Fuschia spp.) or colorful coral bells (Heuchera Americana).
Gardens provide privacy
Condo living is not especially known for it’s privacy. Whether it’s an adjoining building that looks directly onto your balcony or your unit is located on the street, folks can (and most likely will) peer in.
Rather than tolerate that living-in-a-fishbowl feeling, use your mini-garden to help provide privacy.
Look for tall, dense plants and learn how to strategically space what you grow. Plants with a shorter silhouette can also be used if you elevate them.
Hit the flea markets or Craigslist to shop for used end tables, nightstands, shelving units or any other item that would work well to raise up your shorter plants.
And the bonus here is that these repurposed items act as decorative hardscape elements too.
Vegetables can be decorative
Urban gardeners are well aware that one need not live on a farm or even have a backyard to grow a nice crop of vegetables. Vertical gardening is one of the biggest trends in the gardening world and a boon to the micro-gardener.
Get ideas online at Pinterest, Popular Mechanics (an excellent how-to article) and HGTV.
Don’t want to go vertical? Grow bags come in all sizes and the deeper ones will even accommodate a hefty potato crop. Peppers and bush beans take up little space and cucumbers, tomatoes and squash can be grown upright.
Then there are the fruit trees bred specifically for container growth. These include dwarf varieties of blueberries, lemons, limes and mandarins.
Harvest to Table offers a handy guide to determine which pot size to choose for specific vegetables and Texas A&M University published on its website a list of easy-to-grow container vegetables.
Don’t forget the accessories
Hardscape doesn’t only describe walkways and other paved areas. The term has grown to encompass just about any garden feature that isn’t organic.
Aside from seating for your guests, consider adding a small fountain if you have room. A lamp post, light string, statue or even a small birdbath will also add charm and interest to your own personal patio paradise.
Spring is just around the corner – how will your garden be growing?