British Columbia

Balcony gardening made easy — 9 things you can plant right now

Do you dream of feasting on fresh food from your garden — but have only a small balcony and little knowledge of gardening? We have the expert for you.

'This is the sweet spot for gardening,' says Andrea Bellamy, author of Small-Space Vegetable Gardens

Plant tomatoes now to enjoy later this summer. (Getty Images/Blend Images)

Do you dream of feasting on fresh food from your garden this summer — but have only a small balcony and little knowledge of actual gardening? We have the expert for you.

Andrea Bellamyauthor of Small-Space Vegetable Gardenssays now (late May) is the "sweet spot for gardening" —the perfect time to plant both cool and warm season vegetables.

Here are some easy-to-grow crops she recommends planting right now.

1. Fresh herbs

Herbs are easy to grow and perfect for balcony gardeners or if you've got limited space.

While they won't feed your family for the summer, Bellamy says they add lots of flavour, attract beneficial insects and repel pests. "They're an all-star plant."

Fresh herbs, like these chives, are easy to grow in pots and small spaces. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

2. Salad greens

These are easy to grow in the cool, wet season, but also do well in the hot weather.

Bellamy suggests planting lettuce and greens from seeds, rather than starts because it's much cheaper and you'll have access to a greater variety, including heritage types of lettuce. 

3. Kale

Easy-to-grow, nutritious and hearty.

4. Tomatoes

Fresh tomatoes off the vine (or bush) are a summer treat, but it can be challenging to keep your plants healthy in damp weather.

Bellamy says the secret to successful tomato growing is plenty of heat and keeping leaves dry. She suggests keeping them in large pots under an awning, which allows you to control the water.

5. Strawberries

Bellamy says put this perennial plant in the ground now. You may only get a few berries this year, but you can expect delicious returns next summer.

6. Radishes

Radishes are what to plant if you want to eat from your balcony garden ASAP. They germinate from seed in three days and will be ready to eat in a few weeks

7. Zucchini

Growing zucchini is so easy, you could find yourself leaving your surplus on your unsuspecting neighbours' front steps come August. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Heat-loving zucchini loves full sun and will reward you with a bountiful crop come August.

Worried about having too much zucchini?  "There is a national 'Leave a zucchini on your neighbour's porch day' for that very reason," laughs Bellamy. 

Zucchinis tend to take up a lot of space, so use a large enough container (47 quarts) and pick a variety suited to smaller spaces.

8. Potatoes

Don't let the abundance of cheap potatoes deter you from growing your own.

"Go for a variety you won't see in the store," recommends Bellamy, who plants Siegland potatoes each year for a rich, buttery treat. "They're to die for." 

You don't need to give up tons of space, either. Special "grow bags" and tall containers designed for potatoes mean you can grow spuds on your balcony.

9. Beans or peas?

With the weather getting warmer, Bellamy says we are on the tail end of the season for planting peas, which don't do well in the heat.

She suggests turning your attention to beans, such as string beans and filet beans. Small space gardeners can plant "bush" varieties of beans.

"Push in a bean and you'll have a sprout in a few days," says Bellamy.

To hear more ideas for balcony gardening, listen to the audio: Tips for small space gardening