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Growing up in a house with a yard, we had a pretty decent sized garden with fruits, vegetables, and herbs galore. Since moving to "the city", I haven't had a yard, and I miss being able to grow things

The situation:

The only space I have for a garden is on my balcony. It doesn't receive a lot of sunlight - the building walls enclose it on two sides, the main opening is west-facing, and the railing has thick wooden slats that block over half of the light except when the sun is at the right angle to shine directly from overhead. I would be able to add pots, but not planters.

The question:

What plants would you recommend for a balcony garden, to grow in pots, with limited sunlight? I'm open to herbs, greens, veggies, or anything that comes highly recommended by community members.

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1  
Related: What vegetables can be grown effectively in a small urban garden. Also, some of the suggestions in the answers to this question might be helpful. –  Lorem Ipsum Sep 16 '11 at 20:30

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Here are some things I have had experience with in this situation. They all will grow with proper care.

  • thyme
  • leaf lettuce
  • radishes
  • spinach
  • pepper
  • indeterminate tomatoes
  • baby style carrots
  • tophat blueberries
  • poly variegated cat grass
  • sage
  • oregano
  • strawberries
  • catmint
  • potatoes
  • sweet potatoes
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Will potatoes/sweet potatoes have enough space to grow in a pot? I've never grown them before, but I've always visualized them as needing an enormous amount of space. –  Jonathan Sep 19 '11 at 19:13
    
@Jonathan: I don't grow sweets so I can't comment there, but you can grow potatoes in containers. Look for "potato condo" for one approach, or you can just grow them in a (clean) trash barrel. (I haven't personally tried potato containers, but I have friends who have had success with this method, and it certainly seems popular.) –  bstpierre Sep 21 '11 at 18:27

The plants that I am going to suggest are those that will require limited sunlight, but sufficient enough to promote vegetative growth. Since these all will be in pots I suggest getting pots the largest size possible for best results. For instance in a large 5 gallon or bigger container you could plant a number of herbs that would do well in the situation. Spinach, lettuce and any number of greens could do well as long as the weather is warm enough. Once that you have given those that are likely to grow a chance to start, then you could start experimenting with veggies such as tomatoes. Good luck.

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Thanks! Are you saying that the greens will probably grow if the weather is warm enough, and veggies like tomatoes probably won't grow? –  Jonathan Sep 19 '11 at 19:14
    
For the greens, how warm would you say is warm enough? Where I live, we don't even hit the freezing point every year. But, is there a threshold where I should take my plants inside for the night? We will be hitting lows in the 40s in the winter. –  Jonathan Sep 19 '11 at 19:19
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@Jonathan: I'm not sure what GD is talking about with respect to "warm enough" for greens. Greens like spinach and lettuce do better in cold temperatures, and I have had spinach survive temps well below freezing (-10F ambient, probably warmer under the snow cover). They were covered with deep snow, and I harvested spinach in spring after snow melt. Tomatoes require warm temps to grow and produce fruit, but established plants will survive low 40s. –  bstpierre Sep 22 '11 at 18:21

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