Garden Goals

So just like any endeavor that offers many paths to choose from, we have to ask ourselves, what is my goal here?  What is the big picture, the 10,000ft view?  For a garden project like this, what do I want out of it?  Maybe a Nice environment, a balcony that smells like jasmine in the evening, decorative planters overflowing with beautiful flowers, backlit by artfully placed accent lights…maybe something in the more Sinister vein – pitcher plants with their deadly cups, monster cacti with their spikes, a sandy area complete with bearded dragon… Or forget the aesthetics and go Utilitarian on this balcony.

The point with planning like this is to strip the project down to the barest level to open up the widest range of possibilities.  I have X area on my balcony and I can do anything with it.  Anything!  I’ve stripped away all expectations and assumptions tied with the space.  The objective is to think outside the box, explore as many options as possible until I come up with the most interesting, rewarding project.  Remember the ultimate end goal(s), the resulting feeling, ambiance, production, or whatever you want from the space and then get creative.

For us living in the city, this approach is vital.  We don’t have any extra space to work with.  A little careful planning goes a long way.  We have to maximize limited space with limited time.

Garden planning in the city: Prioritize the end goals, think carefully, utilize space efficiently.

Now, being the good farmer that I am, gotta go with the Utilitarian option.  For me, the result I want to achieve is a healthier diet.  I think a really neat way to achieve this result is by planting a production garden on my balcony.

With my goal in mind, I’ve selected my plants.  Check out this list of plants:

Herbs Veggies (mostly) Salads
Sage Eggplant – long purple Lettuce – Red Grand Rapids
Basil – purple Broccoli – F1 Lettuce – Green Grand Rapids
Parsley – italian flat leaf Pepper – Jalapeno Lettuce – Waldmanns
Coriander Pepper – Siling Labuyo Lettuce – Red Romaine
Dill Watermelon – Sugarbaby Spinach – Italian (matador)
Lavender Cucumber – Thai F1 Arugula
Rosemary Onion – White Lisbon
Chamomile Onion – Red (Creole)
Tomato – Red Cherry F1
Tomato – Regular Mica Red
Carrot – baby
Beans
Calamansi

Many will be difficult to grow here, like all the lettuce for example, but I’m going to try.

Most of the varieties I selected are healthy since I’m going for a healthier diet here.  You can see a few treats  like watermelon and eggplant.  Then a few extras like Calamansi (small sweet lime local to the Phils), Chamomile for tea, and Peppers because peppers are just cool.

Everything I bought as seeds except Calamansi since it’s a tree and would take too long to grow from seed, and Rosemary because it’s difficult to start from seed here.

Most people have some outdoor space in their care.  What are you doing with yours?  How can you make it work for you?  Just think about the big picture, what is the end result you want to get from your outdoor space?  Let us know in a comment below. What a fun project. :)

  • Jeff

    Great comments, I agree, design is so important. We can do amazing things through design and careful planning, improve our lives, our communities, our relationships, the health of our soil our gardens our bodies. Good luck with the grow!

    • Patrick

      Couldn’t agree more Jeff. It’s hard I’m so excited about growing stuff I just want to jump in, but I managed to take a little time to think it out. At the very least I have my end goal (healthy diet) and method of achieving it with the outdoor space(grow a bunch of healthy veggies).

      Last weekend we took a trip down south outside Manila, and I saw some beautiful clay plant pots and woods crafters that could produce awesome wood planters. Sure would be fun crafting a beautiful outdoor space to unwind at in the evenings. If I owned the place I’d probably go that route – in the meantime onwards with the production balcony!

  • Daniel

    If I may, grow your lettuce in the shade, that may help.

    Also, space being limited, planning is a must; therefore, plant only what you will eat, nothing else. I have a big garden this year, this is year 1, 75′ X 100′. By the time I remove stone, that I put a fence and picket, rototiller, etc. I will be too tired, to plant. JOKE. My purpose this year is to do preserve and freeze some. So I will choose and plant with this in mind. Also, this year I will grow all kind of beans that will dry on the plant for next year consumption.

    • Patrick

      Thanks Daniel, that’s true I hope that helps, I chose the shadiest parts of my “garden” for the lettuce. My balcony doesn’t get much direct sunlight in any case but where they are they should be indirect/shade all the time. I just hope the indirect sunlight is enough for the other plants I’m planting. My gardening experience is on a good size garden out back of the house on 40 acres – the limitations of a balcony are all new to me (sun, space, neighbors, etc).

      What an awesome project you’ve got! That is sweet! I wish I had a space like that, that’s about the size of the garden I grew up with. HA – it was super hard, clayish soil, packed with rocks, surrounded by high deer populations. You don’t need to tell me about rocks, rototilling, and fencing… so painful…

      Natural farmers practice a no-till method of farming that looks very successful. I haven’t had the opportunity to practice it so I haven’t written on it. When I visit home this year I’m going to work on my parents’ garden though, the clayish, deer-ridden, rock-free(thanks to child labour) garden I grew up with. I’ll design a till-free garden regime for them and write about it then. I won’t be able to publish results yet obviously but I’ll publish the methods at least, it’s very interesting.

      • Daniel

        I thought that the soil was better in BC (than QC). I understand the no-till method and favour it. However, in my case I do not see when I will be able to grow carrots and potato or even tomatoes and beans without breaking the peat, without removing the rocks, without amending the dense gray clay. The no-till method works very well with good earth or soil that has been worked on before.

        You are brave to try growing all that you mentioned without sun. Surprisingly, you might have some success. My mom on the 15th floor has 3 tomato plants and some beans every year and she has East(morning sun) and it produces (but she has a few hours of sun). Good luck, let us know the result.

        • Patrick

          Yeah, the soil should be great at least in Fraser valley area right? I dunno about other areas.

          Haha it’s true, at least removing the rocks would go a long way. And you should be able to plant cover crops with deep taproots in the off season that would help condition the soil a lot already, break up that hard clay.

          Yeah, lots of cloud cover in the tropics too so I’m battling that as well. We’ll see how it goes, it’s fun at any rate!

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