Up_until I moved to Sydney, I lived with my parents in Adelaide, in a house with a big garden. The garden was and still is, full of stuff; plants, flowers, insects, vegetables, hydroponic set ups (not the dodgy ones!), apple box planter containers and birds. Upon moving to Sydney I was not happy with the concrete balcony that was my 'garden', so with some assistance, I made my own compact garden.
The_Adelaide garden that will never fit on my balcony
Why gardens are good
According to me and linking to some facts I found
Gardening get you outside
If you spend all week inside an office like I do, it is good to get outside on the weekends. Absorb some vitamin D (which is suggested aids in fighting osteoporosis and cancer)! Not only does sunlight feel nice on your skin, but it may speed up healing times. A study concluded that spinal surgery patients healed faster when exposed to natural light.
Gardening is a form of exercise and keeps you mobile
Carrying rocks around your garden, moving bags of soil and lifting a watering can are forms of exercise. My garden consists of many bricks. Lifting that many bricks up a flight of stairs without a wheelbarrow is very good exercise! Squatting, kneeling and sitting on the ground as you may do when gardening are good for your body as such activities keep you mobile - Mark Sisson explains.
I_have enjoyed gardening from a young age:)
Gardening can teach us
Gardening teaches us about life cycles, eco systems (ever lifted up a rock or picked some bark off a tree and looked at all the bugs living under it?), how things grow and react to the weather and where food comes from. It can boost creativity (drawing plans of a garden or developing new ways to do things in a garden) and construction skills.
Gardening is just nice
I like flowers. I like their scents and I like watching the bees visit them. I like to pick parsley for practically nothing, instead of buying a small bunch for $4 from the supermarket. I like to tend to my sweet peas each Saturday to find out how much they grew in the past week. I like planting stuff from seed packets and seeing whether it grows. And gardnes look nice. Much nicer than an empty balcony or dust bowl.
One way to make a compact garden
My compact garden consists of twelve rectangular pots purchased from the Reject Shop. They are arranged four wide by three deep against the balcony wall. The pots have been placed on 'shelves' made from wooden slats supported by bricks (picked up for free from some people who dug up a brick path). Cloth has been placed onto the wooden slats to assist with drainage...or something like that.
The garden is not a permanent fixture, so with some motivation and strength, you could move it.
Drainage cloth was laid inside each pot to assist with drainage. Uh duh. The soil mixture used was 1/3 cow manure and 2/3 cheap potting mix purchased from Bunnings. The manure and soil was mixed together in a wheelbarrow and separated between the twelve pots.
The garden is made from both annuals (plants that will flower and then die) and perenials (which live longer than two years). This is to ensure constant greenery.
The perenials were planted towards the back of the pots, to allow for the planting of annuals at the front. This means annuals can be easily ripped out once finished. A herb garden has been created in the last column of pots.
The_plants in the garden are (below photo), left to right, top to bottom: lavender, cuphea, stocks and a mysterious plant that was mixed with the stocks, geraniums (these need little water), heuchera and another mysterious plant that grew by itself, carnations, daisies, violet, thyme and oregano.
And_now the herb garden pots, which did not fit into the above picture: basil, coriander (now dead - tried to plant the end bits of some I bought from the supermarket), chives, sage, tarragon, marjoram, mint and parsley.
The_black pots in front of all the other pots contain sweet peas growing up a structure made from bamboo poles.
The_plants cost around $100. Most were bought from a nursery as pot plants, but some were raised from seeds such as the stocks, carnations and sweet peas.
When buying plants, make sure you read the label attached to the pot, or ask the staff at the nursery for details. Some plants like full sun and some like shade. Know where you will place your compact garden before you go shopping.
Stocks have a very nice fragrance. They enjoy a position in full sun and did you know they belong to the cabbage family?
Caring for the garden
Such a compact garden does not need too much attention. I water the plants each day, with the exception of the geranium (it does not like to be watered very often) and lavender (I think I watered it too much so it looks a little ill at the moment).
When flowers have finished, I cut them off the plant and place them into the pot as compost.
I_attach the sweet peas to the bamboo poles with some cotton once a week.
I read that coffee grounds can be used as a fertilizer. So, instead of throwing used coffee grounds into the bin, I place them under the plants.
That's pretty much it.
I hope the above has given you some tips for making a compact garden/inspired you to make a garden.
Any questions, just ask:)
One more thing - If you plant now, there is the chance that the first 'real hot day' will kill all (or maybe just some) your plants as they wouldn't have yet established in your garden. Please beware of this.