I have never had a green thumb. If a plant is alive and I take possession of it, it is sure to die within weeks, sometimes even days. I decided two summers ago to attempt to grow some fresh vegetables on the front porch of my city apartment. I had no clue how it would turn out, but for three years I have grown fresh peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes with great success!
My first recommendation is to purchase some 12″ wide planters. If you don’t have that much space, 6″ planters will do, but you will need more of them for better results. For 12″ planters, you can put as many as 10 plants in 1 planter. For 6″ planters I recommend placing only 3 seeds or 3 seedlings in the pots.
The best soil I have found to use is the moisture lock growing soil. It’s filled with nutrients that your plants will need, and holds in the moisture longer. This type of soil is great to use if you tend to forget to water your plants or go away for more than a few days at a time. Make sure you choose a soil that is appropriate for vegetables and growing plants that are edible.
While I have grown vegetables from seed in pots, I found seedlings (seeds that have already started to grow into a green plant) much easier. While the expense is higher, I found it worth the extra money. Make sure you have enough pots for your plants and vice versa.
When planting your seeds or seedlings, spread them at least 3-4 inches apart from each other in the planter. Make sure that as soon as you pack them into your soil, you fill the pot with plenty of water to give the soil its proper moisture level.
Make sure to place your pots in an area that receives sunlight at least several hours a day. While direct sunlight is not necessary, your plants do need a few hours of sunlight to produce efficiently.
When it comes to watering, I always try to water once a day. If you’re not as good at remembering to water plants, you can buy self watering devices such as glass bulbs. If you are more high tech, you can also set up more technical self watering systems.
Once your pot planters are set up, sit back and wait. It will take between 4-6 weeks for seedlings (longer for seeds) to produce the start of vegetation. Because you are growing your plants in pots, expect your vegetables to be smaller than what you will normally find in the store or from a traditional garden setup.
Always make sure to rinse and wash your vegetables before eating. I have no good tips for determining exactly when your vegetables are ready to eat, but usually I cut one open and give it a taste. Enjoy the vegetables of your labor and the classic crisp bites of eating your home-grown food from your balcony.