By Rose Weber
Attention apartment dwellers: Those coveted green thumbs are not doled out only to suburban homeowners. A balcony garden is totally doable in an apartment. Even better, you can go green and save a lot of green by recycling a lot of the elements you need to create your own green oasis. Here are five ideas to create a recycled balcony garden.
You can find containers to repurpose for a balcony garden in your home, or for just pennies on the dollar at your local Goodwill store. You can turn a bundt pan upside down and make it into a bird feeder, or stack old glass jars to make a vertical garden. The possibilities are endless.
Each little compartment in an egg container is the perfect size for a seed starting pot. Save your cardboard egg cartons for this task. When the seeds have sprouted, cut up the carton and plant each compartment directly into another recycled container. This doesn’t work quite as well with styrofoam egg cartons, so make sure you choose cardboard ones. Keep in mind, the individual egg compartments can dry out at a stage when the seedlings need just the right amount of moisture. So keep a close eye on the soil moistness.
Balconies have limited room, so you’re likely looking at a small space garden. You can maximize your space and recycle through a vertical garden. Hang a row of pots or jars from the wall, or fashion those wire hangers you get from the dry cleaners into a trellis that you can hook onto the wall. Allow vines — whether they’re vegetable pea vines or flowering vines — to creep up along your recycled trellis to make the most of your space.
Save your coffee grinds and your food scraps and turn them into a rich fertilizer for your recycled balcony garden. Composting isn’t only for people living on a farm. It’s totally doable in an apartment setting as well. This is a great way to reuse or eliminate needless waste from your kitchen. You’ll also save money on pricey chemical fertilizers. Your plants will thank you.
Like Denver area lawns, plants here need plenty of water to survive. Of course, it’s a lot easier when you plant native plants and flowers and the right grass type for our climate. Recycling water is another eco-friendly way to achieve a balcony garden. Known as “graywater,” it’s the gently used water from your household — water you used to wash the dishes or bathe. Instead of letting that water go down the drain, save it and use it to water your garden. To be clear, this does not include water from the toilet, or water that has caustic chemicals or bleach in it. There are fancy systems out there for graywater capture, but you don’t have to invest that kind of money. Simply wash the dishes using a basin, instead of running water, and scoop it out when you’re done. Or take a bath, instead of showering, and, again, scoop. There are lots of old-school ways to save water and use it in your thriving garden.
It doesn’t take much to create a dream garden on your balcony and be mindful of the environment. Your old jars or basins, your food scraps, even your bathwater can all be recycled and reused to make your garden a reality.
Rose Weber, guest blogger for this article, is a garden care extraordinaire and home decorator. She has been gardening since she was a child and loves to spend her weekends teaching her grandchildren all about growing a vegetable patch. You can find her sharing her crops and her decorating ideas with her friends and neighbors.