Beginner mistakes of the urban garden


More and more we see tomato plants , onions, lettuces, cucumbers and various vegetables in the balcony planters, instead of ornamental plants of all kinds.

It is all a cry for change. Why grow flowers when you can grow food? Be careful, without neglecting the cultivation of flowers.

Let’s see what can happen to us as “newbies” when we decide to plant tomatoes instead of geraniums on our balcony . 


It is very obvious when you already have some experience in gardening or horticulture, but believe me, it is not so common to think about it when you are starting out.

The balcony always gives possibilities to grow whatever it is, but let’s stop a bit with the orientation.

The balconies in the light patios … even if they are called light patios, they will receive little, so they are discarded except for plants with a lot of shade that are not usually those of the garden.

Take into account the visual barriers on your horizon so that you can see if the building in front of you covers the sun within a few hours.

This can slow down the development of plants. Normally the upper floors receive more light than the lower ones and the appropriate orientation is usually south or southeast, or southwest .

Except the north north, you can always try to plant something, no matter how little.


We have mentioned it on several occasions and we will not tire of saying it.

For a balcony there is no problem because the space for pots is very limited and the weight is well supported, but on a terrace of for example 50 m², we cannot cover a lot of surface with pots full of soil, because the floors do not hold everything one can think of.

We have to take this factor into account before starting to raise bags of substrate by elevator.

Here is an article that mentions  the construction aspects of green roofs .  It is interesting to know how much weight we are making the structure of our terrace support.


This is another important point that is often overlooked. Many times we think that with soil, water and compost, everything will grow for us.

It is necessary to qualify. The root systems of each crop are very different, they have greater or lesser strength and their development in depth or horizontally will be very different.

Lettuce, for example, is a crop with a highly unbalanced aerial system, root system relationship.

It has very little root and a planter is perfect for growing it without major problems.

Keep in mind that common planters are no more than 8 inches deep.

All the crops from which we take advantage of the root parts (potato, carrot, beet …) are discarded, in principle for normal planters.

Their sizes can be very meager and we may not have what we initially thought we could achieve.

For this we need a larger volume of pot. Therefore the cultivation spaces as well as the planting frames are important.

In planters, the frames of some crops can be reduced a little if the substrate chosen for their cultivation is very well nourished and of good quality.

Photo from:

If the space you have is somewhat larger, such as a terrace, then you can consider growing in pots , which ensure a depth of 30 to 50 cm, more than enough for most crops.

Other available options are fabric bags with substrate that have been appearing in recent years.

There are the cultivation tables and dozens of other solutions that have been and will be emerging.

Grow table. Source:


Planting a tomato directly, outdoors in a cold climate in the middle of March is something that may sound crazy, but I assure you that you make that rookie mistake.

Today, thanks to the Internet, access to information is immediate and extensive.

This allows you to obtain information on how to cultivate a garden on your balcony or terrace, but a few years ago, this was not so easy and you had to go to friends, family or few books to get a first idea of ​​what was coming to us.

And the one who had no friends had to experiment. Trial and error , which, although slow, is the learning system par excellence.

This comment is relevant because today, we can know which crops can be sown directly or which ones need a protected planting and / or subsequent repottings and transplants until they end up in the definitive pot.

In addition, with the many growing calendars displayed by tons of blog pages, we will know exactly, based on our climate, when to plant them.


They are necessary, but it will not be the first time that someone has filled a planter with substrate and does not make a single drain hole.

His crops are dying and he thinks it is because of something else.

It is highly recommended to put a centimeter or two of gravel at the bottom before putting substrate and a couple of holes in the planters or pots to allow the excess water to percolate and not saturate the substrate.

Source: ecologists in action from Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

Irrigation may be the least of the problems.

The advantage of having a garden on the balcony of the habitual residence is that we spend many hours in it and we can always take care of watering with a watering can with some assiduity, depending on what the crop asks for.

It is not like in the case of an orchard, that those of us who are “urbanites” have to automate it or throw away liters of fuel to go with the car to water.

That last option, in addition to being expensive, is polluting and does not generate any benefit, I assure you.

We hope that with these little tips, you will start your garden on the balcony or roof on the right foot.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *