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I haven't bought the pots as yet, but I wanted to know how should I plant oregano, basil, parsley, mint, (maybe some other herbs) and cherry tomato, chili peppers and garlic. Should I have a small pot per plant or should I group them in a large pot? My balcony is facing south (I'm on the south hemisphere) so it has sun all day on its border and shadow closer to the wall.

I was thinking about having something like a vertical garden (2 of them one against the wall and other against the border, maybe? Also maybe stepped so they don't overlap each other, IDK)

Edit: also, what material do I need for the pots?

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I am glad you will start with 'starts' or plants grown from a seed to a decent size.

The least expensive pots are black plastic. You can get them from a nursery very cheaply. Any pot with a drainage hole at the bottom will work. For aesthetics try to keep your pots all the same. You could add a few nicer looking pots but make sure they 'match'. Too many types and colors of pots causes a chaotic look. This is your balcony, an extension of your home/apartment and your personality.

For your tomatoes, plan on at least a 5 gallon size per plant. Garlic is tricky. Have no idea what your amount of sun will be for fall and winter, but garlic is normally planted late summer and harvested the next season. I would go with a shallot myself. I planted 20 in a 'fabric pot' and had incredible success last year.

I would also try potatoes. Those can be done vertically as well. Start in a 10 gallon pot using 3 chunks of a seed potato, install a 'tomato' cage. As the potato grows, once it is at 12" high, fill the cage with straw leaving 6" of green potato plant above the straw. When it grows another foot add more straw leaving 6" above the straw. Pack the straw down quite firmly. Potatoes will grow in this straw. Never allow potatoes to see the sun as this will cause a greening of the potato that is poisonous. If you see a potato pack in more straw to shield it from the sun.

The MOST important thing for you to do is use potting soil from the store. No fertilizer should be added in the potting soil that is in a bag, no moisture holding gels or sponges in that soil...just plain, sterilized potting soil. Nothing else in your pots except for the plants and that soil. No rock or gravel above the drainage hole and beneath the soil. You will probably water every day or every other day. Lift your pots to feel the heft after watering. When they are lighter, water. Do not water if they feel heavy.

You will also have to fertilize. Use Osmocote 14-14-14. You'll only have to do this once maybe twice for your entire season. Follow directions. Do not mess with composts when using pots. Do not add anything else. That is why I like this fertilizer. It is extended release and you can't go wrong unless you try to add manure or mulch or garden soil. Too much fertilizer and you will kill your plants.

Lift the bottoms of your pots off the ground using flat rocks, pieces of broken tile. That is the best thing you can do for drainage. I would also use extra pots turned upside down to change the levels of your garden pots. That will help with light and air circulation and look very cool.

Peppers are very happy in one gallon pots. As soon as they turn red harvest and string and hang to dry unless you know how to roast.

Tomatoes; get the tomatoes off the vine as soon as they turn red to promote even more tomatoes. Allow wasps, bees, flies to visit for pollination!

Try an eggplant! Does well in a one gallon pot. Herbs in a long pot that is at least a foot wide are happy planted altogether and Mint, Oregano, Thyme should last a few years if you don't have very cold winters.

Your only problem and a major one at that, will be daylight hours. If you are going into short days, less than 16 hours of daylight, this will not be a great time to start a vegetable garden. You will need artificial light and that would mean a room inside your home with artificial lights (look up artificial lights on our question/answer history).

You should be able to grow your herbs; thyme, oregano, mint, lettuce, spinach right now, but the rest will not be able to grow without longer day light hours (16 avg). Oh include sugar snap peas to this list!

Here's one idea for balcony gardening.

one idea for balcony gardening[][1]

You'll have time to get soil and pots and pot feet or 1/4" thick tile pieces for lifting the bottom of your pots off the surface they sit, purchased and organized to grow vegetables in your spring. Do you have a neighbor with a balcony right below yours? You'll want to consider how to deal with that. When you water, water should come out of the drain hole and onto your balcony to be hosed off. How will this affect your neighbor below? Do you have any constraints for your development for potted plants on balconies?

I hope this helps. I hope this engenders more questions to ask us!

  • Really nice answer! – Alina May 23 '17 at 21:22
  • @Alina well thank you for that! By your answer we are definitely on the same wavelength. That is a very good thing for the OP, huh. And it is nice to get positive feedback! – stormy May 23 '17 at 21:38
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All I know is that mint can really take over a garden, so it should be planted in a separate container. I leave the rest for a more experienced grower to comment :)

  • @Simerman I just lost all of my mint, quite mature, to last winter! My asparagus made it, rhubarb, some strawberries, raspberries and even boysenberries. But my MINT? Unbelievable. – stormy May 25 '17 at 20:38
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In theory I'd use separate small pots because the plants have different rates of growing and might require different watering schedules. Some of them tolerate shade (mint), others need a lot of light (peppers) and keeping them in separate pots allows you to move them if needed.

In practice, every year I have at least one long pot with two or three species because of lack of space.

As for the material, use what you have, just make sure it has drainage holes. Plastic is cheaper and lighter, terracotta is low-maintainance, and metal looks fancy (if you ask other people, 'cause I'm not into the metal pots thing).

My guess is that you'll have to use artificial light, at least for the peppers, since it's autumn(-winter?) in the southern hemisphere, but that depends on your latitude.

  • when planting multiple plants of same specie should I use one long pot? is there any advantage in using one pot for them or are the multiple small pots better in every scenario? (no taking into account space ocuppied or costs) Should I wait until summer to get some of those plants? (I was going to get alredy grown plants, not seeds) – arilei May 23 '17 at 18:04
  • If you are a beginner, use multiple small pots in every scenario because if something bad happens to a few plants, like mold, you'll have the rest of them surviving. It is likely that the herbs will grow a little leggy, but they'll be ok for consumption. Tomatoes and peppers don't grow well in winter and you risk them not setting fruit, so wait until spring for them. – Alina May 23 '17 at 20:30

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