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May 23, 2012

Heather Johnstone from the Edible Garden Project gave a jam packed presentation to a large group of mainly balcony gardeners at the John Braithwaite Community Centre in Lower Lonsdale Wednesday night. This was one of many GardenSmart workshops we co-sponsor along with the North Shore Recycling Program and the Lynn Canyon Ecology Centre. It is always fun and inspiring to hear from other gardeners. Heather gave advice and shared techniques about choosing recycled and repurposed containers, and recommended the best types of planter pot soils and organic fertilizers. She showcased the vegetable, herb, and edible flower varieties that thrive best in containers, and presented many visual examples of stunning vertical gardens that utilize small spaces creatively.

The group discussed some of the container gardening challenges that can be tricky for balcony dwellers. Things that stumped some of these gardeners were the potential for lingering smells from soils and manures, the delicate balance of watering dry containers without drenching downstairs neighbours, and dealing with condo buildings that discourage or even prohibit large scale veggie growing. Heather had fairly easy solutions to all of these and also pointed out the many advantages unique to container gardening such as built in balcony wind protection and the ability to create hot spots against concrete or stone walls.

The best piece of take-away advice from Heather was elegantly simple but often overlooked when planning a small scale veggie garden. “Grow what you like to eat and will use daily in your kitchen.” It is not too late to direct seed many varieties or buy veggie seedlings from our own Loutet Farm. Container gardening, it seems, is truly only limited by one’s imagination!


Deborah Sim – guest blogger for the Edible Garden Project