No yard? No problem! Here’s how to grow a gorgeous garden on your balcony

By Ryan Starr, Toronto Star

7 tips for growing a balcony garden

Gardening guru Frank Ferragine (a.k.a. Frankie Flowers) has some surefire ways to make your balcony garden come alive.

1. Try cool containers:

“People in condos have to think creatively about how they’re going to garden, and basically it all comes down to different containers,” says Ferragine. “Containers can make boring spaces interesting places, and you can grow edibles in containers no problem.”

2. Environmental awareness:

Before you select plants, understand your balcony conditions (sunlight, wind, access to water, etc. “There are plants for every different scenario, so you want to figure out your variables up front,” Ferragine says. “The ultimate goal is to find the right plant for the right place.”

3. Select balcony-friendly flowers:

For areas with full, hot sun and high winds, Ferragine recommends Dragon Wing Begonias, “a foolproof plant that looks great.” Oleanders do well with sun and wind, too. In areas with partial light and low wind, Ferragine likes red leaf bananas. “They’re so sexy, and with a nice deep red leaf.”

4. Add veggies in the mix:

Tomatoes (cherry, mid-size, yellow, heirlooms) and potatoes do well on balconies, but require full sun. For shaded spots grow greens, like a mesclun mix. Herbs are great, too, but Ferragine advises: “Just grow the herbs you use. Pick your top three herbs and do big pots of each.”

5. Go for fruit:

Grow an apple tree on your balcony. “You build an insulated planter and then prune the apple tree so it can hug the wall,” Ferragine explains. “If you have an outdoor space and the opportunity, an apple tree costs you $40. I guarantee people spend a lot more than that on wine that only lasts the night.”

First published in the Toronto Star on April 7, 2012.

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