Newbie gardening Apartment living

aerosloveJune 6, 2014

I need some help. I live in a apartment with no grass. i have a cement balcony. I also live in the high desert of Victorville, ca... its so hot today, very dry climate... in the past i have tried growing indoors like herbs. my husband bought me a very pretty Lily from Homedepot and it was ok for about a week and a half. i did what the instruction said was sun part sun/shade, water every 3 days but it gets so hot in the house that its impossible to grow anything. Outside it can be so windy that the rocks and sand from the apartments "Decorations" go on our balcony which makes it into a damn sandstorm. its really gross and i have to clean it every day. i wanted to buy a cedar box from home depot and plant fruits, veggies and herbs but i dont know if im going to end up wasting money.
I dont compost so i dont make my own soil but i could. Anyone out here have any simple steps?

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hoovb zone 9 sunset 23

Victorville is a tough climate for container gardening. The extreme heat, low humidity, and wind are as difficult for plants to deal with as they are for humans. What you could do is try some summer heat lovers, just for practice. Summer heat loving veggies would be: peppers, and tomatoes. Just try a couple of plants, and make your intent to learn how plants grow on your balcony. Observe, observe, observe. That, long-term, is going to make you successful.

I'd suggest not a fancy container, just the largest one you can afford. You could even try to get a large tub or bin that someone is throwing out, or something from a thrift store that you can drill drainage holes in. The reason you want a large container is that larger containers hold moisture in better and longer than small containers. They also keep the roots slightly cooler than small containers, which is another thing you need in that climate.

Another thing that you might need is some shade protection. If you can, rig up a sturdy little rectangle of pipe that fits the container, and stands 3 or 4' tall, and cover the "roof" of with shade cloth. Attach the shade cloth with cable ties or wire. You can buy pieces of shade cloth at big box stores. The reason for this, is that your climate is so extreme, so hot in the summer, that even heat loving plants may need some protection from the sun. The cloth can also help protect them from the hot wind. Plant a tomato plant and a pepper plant, and see what you can learn. You may need to water the plants every day. Perhaps even twice a day. Learn to feel the soil with your fingers to see if it is moist or not. Learn to watch the foliage to see if it is stressed or happy. Observe, observe, observe.

Good luck! You can do it!

Everyone starts from the beginning. You have to start in an extreme environment. But here's the thing--if you can develop some success in an extreme environment, when/if you move to a more mild climate, it will be likely super easy for you to grow a lot of stuff.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 8:53PM
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thanks for the tips. Any pictures of the pipes your talking about? Im a visual learner.. I was thinking of buying a 16 x 16 raised cedar bedding. it has nothing on the bottom and when i called Homedepot the guy said i can use cardboard, plywood. and use a small thin irrigation tube to let water drain or drill small holes. My balcony is cement flooring.
or should i go cheaper? i have a normal grey rubber maid tub that im just holding old kid clothes... the cedar just looked pretty. and yes i was already thinking of cucumbers, tomatos and zucchini.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 9:07PM
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here is my balcony

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 9:25PM
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CA Kate

While I agree with the idea of peppers, I don't with tomatoes. Tomatoes don't normally set fruit when it's over 90 degrees. ( I'm trying some new types that are suppose to be heat tolerant. I'll report on those next fall.). Having said this, Cherry tomatoes have done well here dispute the heat.

Eggplants do really well with heat... as long as they get enough water. Herbs usually like heat. The squashes, cucumbers and the like will be ok with morning sun only, and then plenty of water.

All vegetables need deep planters and plenty of fertilizer. Also, it helps to add hydrating crystals to the soil mix ... if they aren't already in there. These will help with the water over a long, hot day.

I use organic soil for vegetables; MiracleGrow has one and I imagine there are other brands as well.

We live in the city with no where for a proper in-ground garden, so all my vegetables and herbs are in huge pots. With temps already in the 90s, headed to the 100s, I am needing to water twice a day -- morning and late afternoon.

Good luck! It can be done,

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 11:11PM
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what are some other vegetables and herbs that do well in high heat? I dont eat eggplants so its a no go.. i like them just dont really like cooking them lol...

    Bookmark   June 6, 2014 at 11:52PM
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