Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A Balcony Gone to Pot

I've acquired another four pots for the floor plus one hanging pot after a visit to my mom. She's not going to be growing flowers on her patio this year and graciously decided to donate her pots to my little balcony project. These are a little larger than what I've used before, which is good. The pots I had were far too small for what I am thinking of doing. I think the two large round pots will do nicely for the blueberry and raspberry bushes I seen at the Minter Country Garden when I was there the other day. Also, I read an article today claiming that blueberries do very well on balconies, which makes me even more excited to try them. The two square pots I think could be used for trying my "trellis up the railing idea" by growing beans or cucumbers up a wire trellis attached to the railing, both for space conservation and attempting to create some shade areas in this full-sun area. I've also got a few margarine containers which I am thinking of growing some herbs in. Their small size means I can stuff them into whatever nook and cranny is available after the main pots are in place.
I've been looking at the space on the balcony and I'm thinking of changing my plans a little. I was going to use two large 25 gallon pots placed side by side along the glass wall, and then stuffing in other smaller pots around them. One problem with just sticking the pots out there though, is there is no "tray" to put underneath them to catch water running out of the drainage holes in the bottom. I've run into this with the pots I've had out there already - and I hate having dirty water spilling all over the deck. What makes it worse is that I share this balcony with a neighbour, and the last thing I want is for dirty water from my plants to run underneath the partition and onto his portion of the balcony. So, I had been contemplating building a tray myself, large enough to fit under both pots. I figured I could go to the hardware store and pick up a piece of plywood and some 1" strips of lumber to frame a ridge around the edges, then wrap plastic around the strips and screw them in place. I think that should do the trick to contain the water - although, it wastes some floor space putting round pots on a large, rectangular tray. I think this could be overcome by making some shims of the same height, to balance out any smaller pots that would be able to be stuffed around the big pots, but wouldn't fit fully inside (or outside) of the homemade water tray.  

Then I started thinking, "Hmmmm, what else could I use to grow in besides these round pots?"

What I am wondering is if those big Rubbermaid boxes would work better. They already have a lid on them, so I can just put that underneath the box and presto, a tray! I wonder if there will be enough space underneath for proper draining, though, but I think I could overcome this by simple cutting a few flat strips of wood to place beneath, just to get a little space between the lid and the bottom and make drainage easier. Another thing I like about this idea is that they are rectangular and using squares is a more efficient way to cover floor space than with circles. Also, since the Rubbermaid boxes would be a bit smaller, I might be able to put four of them out there, each with their own crop in them, like carrots, kale or broccoli, rather than seeing if I can grow two types of veggies in the same pot. It would be much easier if each pot simply took care of it's own plant, rather than sharing its space and treatment with another. Also, by going a little smaller in size and using more containers, I will have more flexibility in re-arranging things down the road if certain plants demand it. Once those big 25 gallon pots would be in there, they would have to stay put, as there is not much other space where they could go, especially with a big, honkin' homemade tray underneath them. 

It looks like a trip to Walmart is in order tonight, to go browse the Rubbermaid section.

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