My Great Outdoors: Erin's Edible Balcony

Name: Erin
Location: Ames, IA
Type of space: Balcony
Tell us about your outdoor project and how you enjoy it: I wish I could live out here constantly! Most of the balcony taken up by the plants, but we squeezed in a couple chairs and the grill, which gets fired up almost every night during the summer. The planters are overflowing with vegetables, edible flowers and herbs. I use something from out here with almost every meal I cook. I love tending the plants, trying new arrangements, and watching them grow. It takes a bit of time to keep it all maintained – on average, a couple hours per day – but it’s very meditative and therapeutic. Sometimes I just sit and stare; even from inside the apartment the view is stunning.

How did you create it? We lived in a basement apartment before we moved here late last summer. The view is pretty nice to begin with – a boxelder tree is just outside, and across the access drive and a few garages is a greenway with a creek and bike trail – all very green and peaceful. When we moved, I was so excited to have an outdoor space! Over the winter I perused several balcony gardening blogs, read container gardening books and ordered plants/seeds. I gradually added planters this spring. Most were purchased, a few are cheap dishpans, and one big box I built from mis-cut lumber. When planning what I wanted on my 6x8' balcony, I thought I'd limit myself to vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers. Although most of my plants fit this original scheme I added a few ornamentals along the way. I recorded the process in my blog:

the 6x8 garden

Recommended store, site, product or resource? McGee & Stuckey’s: The Bountiful Container was invaluable for planning and planting. I can’t recommend it enough.

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2009, My Great Outdoors

Faith is the executive editor of The Kitchn and the author of three cookbooks. They include Bakeless Sweets (Spring 2013) as well as The Kitchn's first cookbook, which will be published in Fall 2014. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband Mike.