How to grow fruit and vegetables on a balcony or deck

How to grow fruit and vegetables on a balcony or deck

John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge

Guide written by:

John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge

61 guides

It is absolutely possible to grow your own fruit, vegetables or herbs on a balcony or deck. In addition to providing healthy and tasty produce, these colourful plants will help to brighten up your space. What's more, you can move around your containers to chase the sun or protect your plants from bad weather.  

Important features

  • Planter depth
  • Fertilising
  • Choosing a variety
  • Sun exposure
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Choosing the right container


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As a general rule, any container (pots, trays or planters) intended to hold fruit or vegetable plants must be least 40 cm deep. This applies to fruit and veg such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and so on.

When it comes to shallow-rooted or fast-growing vegetable varieies such as lettuceand radishes, 20 cm of potting soil is generally enough. It's best to line your planter with a soil specially designed for vegetables, as normal potting soil usually does not contain enough nutrients. Fruiting shrubs will require a container measuring at least 50 cm in terms of both depth and width.

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Planter

Four types of vegetables to grow on a balcony


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1. Tomatoes, especially cherry tomatoes, grow well when potted on a deck or balcony. Don't be afraid to use yellow cherry tomato varieties, such as bianca cherry, to mix things up.

2. Aubergines also come in a wide variety of shapes and colours: purple, white, elongated, round, etc.

3. Peppers and chilis also work well on a balcony. Your choice of species will generally depend on your tastes, with flavours ranging from sweet and spicy to burning hot! You'll also find a variety of colours including green, yellow, orange or red. The sight of a pot of orange peppers alongside lush green leaves can really add a bit of oomph to a balcony or deck!

4. Swiss chard also offers a range of colourful varieties with yellow, orange or red leaves. Try some 'bright lights' seeds for a rainbow of colours.

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Deck

Potted vegetables and herbs

Growing lettuce on a balcony


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Avoid placing your lettuce, chicory, mesclun, rocket and lamb's lettuce in spots with full sun exposure. If possible, bring these plants indoors during the hottest hours of the day, or place them in the shade of a larger plant.

Lettuce and chicory are best started from seedlings. By planting on a regular basis, you can be sure to have fresh salad practically all year around.

Leaf lettuce and mesclun varieties are convenient to grow in pots. Simply harvest a leaf here and there, whenever you need to!

Growing root vegetables in containers


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Root vegetables, such as turnips, carrots and salsify, have longroots which require a deeper layer of soil. This makes them difficult to grow in containers.

That said, small radishes are easy to grow in containers. Since they grow quickly, you might want to consider sowing more seeds every couple of weeks to have a steady supply.

Short-rooted or even round carrot varieties, such as Paris Market, can survive in planters with a depth of at least 30 cm. Fill your container with a mixture of two-thirds potting soil to one-third sand.

Growing herbs in hanging pots


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Herbs are among some of the easiest plants to grow in containers and can be grown on a balcony, deck or even a window sill. Plants like parsley, chives, basil, thyme, tarragon, sage and dill should all be relatively straightforward to grow.

A strawberry planter


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Strawberries are also some of the best plants to grow on balconies as they only require around 20 cm of special strawberry compost. If you want to grow them in hanging baskets, we would recommend giving them at least 30 cm of width and depth.

It is also possible to find pots specially designed for growing strawberries with a number of different openings for adding young plants.

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Strawberries

Fruiting trees and shrubs for balconies and decks


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Dwarf fruit trees, which never exceed 1.5 m in height, will produce fruit in abundance. And the fruit provided is often just as good as that grown on standard trees! Varieties suitable for smaller spaces include apricots, almonds, cherries, peaches, pears, apples and plums, all of which are self-fruiting. These trees can also be easily moved around to avoid bad weather (frost, hail, high winds, etc.).

Some varieties, known as columnar trees, have been specially selected for their narrow shape. This is a great option for saving space on a smaller balcony.

Citrus fruits such as lemons, kumquats and oranges are also generally quite successful in pots. You can even grow them in areas with cold winters, provided they are kept indoors over the course of the cold season.

Finally, we can't forget gooseberries, raspberries or any type of climbing fruit that can work its way up a wall or a pergola.

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Guide written by:

John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge, 61 guides

John, Passionate gardener, Cambridge

When I was young, I was already working in the family garden. Perhaps that is where my interest in plants and gardening came from. So, it was logical for me to study both plant biology and agronomy.   At the request of various publishers I have, over twenty-five years, written many books on the subject of plants and mushrooms (a subject that is close to my heart).They were mostly identification guides at first, but shortly after they were about gardening, thus renewing the first passion of my childhood.   I have also regularly collaborated with several magazines specializing in the field of gardening or more generally in nature. There is no gardener without a garden, I have cultivated mine in a small corner of Cambridge for the last thirty years and this is where I put into practice the methods of cultivation that will I advise you in as well.

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