The Garden

A little bit about the garden I’ve got going on, because it’s brought me so much joy (and, at times, frustration). Hopefully you can learn from my odd mishmash of growing conditions. I’ll try to add as many details here as can be, so you can see how things work out!

Don’t forget to fertilize properly. Apartment plants are not subject to all the same conditions as plants in the wild – especially in replenishing the soil contents. Plan accordingly, or be prepared to do a lot of work with fertilizer.

Anyone that has grown plants on a balcony

The Conditions

Most of LA is 10b 35-30f
North side of PV hill is 10a 25-30f
South side of PV hill is 11a 40-35f

Some apple mint getting pruned

Balcony faces directly SW

Due to interference from buildings, sunlight can only come from SE to NW, with some interference in the morning (SE-S). Strongest light from mid-morning to evening (SW-NW).

Sizes of Planters, Pots, and Troughs

PlanterSize & ShapeDirt VolumeTypical Soil
Square Wood 1Square
11.5″w 11.5″d 10.5″h
~1400 cu. in.
(.03 cu yd)
Dry upper 1-3″
Moist below
Drains well
Sun after midmorningRaspberry
Short Ceramic Pot 1Conical
11.5″d1 8″d2 7″h
~450 cu. in.
(.01 cu yd)
Dry upper 1″
Low Moisture Below
Drains well
Sun after midmorning(2) Celebrity Tomato
Square Wood 2Square
11.5″w 11.5″d 10.5″h
~1400 cu. in.
(.03 cu yd)
Dry upper 1-3″
Sometimes dry lower
Drains well
Sun on upper branches all day
Partial sun on base
Long Plastic Planter 1Rectangular
7.5″w 32.5″l 8″d(est.)
~1950 cu. in.
(.04 cu yd)
Typically moist
Wet lower 2/3
Drains very poorly
Floods occasionally
Pulled into area with sun through most of day
Put back at night
Short Ceramic Pot 2Cylindrical
8.5″d 5.5″h
~315 cu. in.
(.007 cu yd)
Dries well
Holds moisture only 2-3 days
Partial sun
Partial shade
Long Plastic Planter 2Rectangular
7.5″w 32.5″l 8″d(est.)
~1950 cu. in.
(.04 cu yd)
Typically moist
Wet lower 2/3
Drains very poorly
Floods occasionally
Pulled into area with sun through most of day
Put back at night
(5) Peppers
Very Short Ceramic PotDries very quicklyDirect sun half of dayCacti
Colorful Ceramic PigDries very slowly
Moist throughout
Partial Sun
Partial Shade
Shade always on base of plants
Wooden Half-BarrelConical
12.5″d1 10″d2 10.5″h
~1050 cu. in.
(.02 cu yd)
Dries quickly
Somewhat moist lower 1/2
Sun through most of dayGinkgo Biloba
Short Holey PotCylindricalHolds moisture quite evenlySun through most of the dayOrach or Bloodleaf?
Small Conical PotConicalNo drainage holes, holds moisture in bottom 2/3Sun through most of the dayCalifornia Poppies
Blue Ceramic Fish PotMoney Tree
Glass LanternTillandsia
Spanish Moss
Mossy rotted log

The Planters and their Inhabitants

Square Wooden Planter 1

Raspberries and Blueberries. The blueberries never want to leave, and the raspberries never want to stay.


There are 4 main varieties: Highbush, lowbush, rabbiteye, and half high. 

Because the acidity that blueberries require doesn’t typically happen in nature, growing them in containers makes it much easier to modify their environment. Nutrients are best during the beginning of spring. For organic fertilizer, use bloodmeal or cottonseed meal. Things meant for acid-loving plants.

The leaves can act like an umbrella, especially over a container. Even if there’s rain, check your soil to make sure the moisture reached more than an inch or two down. They really like water!

Birds love blueberries, so bird netting may be a good idea if you’d like to keep a good harvest!

Try to keep them out of the wind in colder climates. You can also surround them with burlap.

I can be reasonably certain now that my blueberries are doing fine now that they’ve recovered from winter and me. The plant isn’t growing more blueberries because there’s not a second one adjacent. Raspberries instead.

SunThey like six to eight hours of sun per day. Blueberries can overheat, so they may need shade during the height of day. Try to strategically plan any shady sticks or covers! Moving them to the shade conserves water. 
EarthA pot at least 18 inches deep, though bigger is better. Acidic soil produces more fruit – Usually a 4.5 to 5.5 ph. Sandy soils work well for helping with drainage. You can add compost up top with a topdressing of pine bark to help retain moisture.
WaterThey like moist soil, but they don’t like sitting in water. Make sure it drains well, but don’t let the soil get dry. When dormant in the winter, the plants require less water.
FruitThey like being near other blueberries. Two or three nearby will help with pollination. Mixing up the nearby varieties can extend your growing season!


Short Ceramic Pot 1

Celebrity Tomatoes from a farmer’s market.

Square Wooden Planter 2

Olives. And, a resting place for a grapefruit started from seed.


Long Plastic Planter 1

Mint, Thyme, Rosemary, and Armenian Cucumbers. We make it happen.


Growing Notes
Heads underground during the winter.


Short Ceramic Pot 2

Strawberries that I’ve been neglecting.

Long Plastic Planter 2

A mix of peppers. Used to be 6, now there are 5.

Hot Peppers

Growing Notes
To plant, make sure the soil is warmer than 65F and there’s bonemeal or fishmeal to the hole before planting.
According to legend, more fruit means smaller fruit. You could potentially pinch off a few flowers to make larger fruit. At least it’s not as harmful as girdling!

Full sun for full growthPrefers that the soil remain consistently moist. Likes soil rich in organic matter.Side dress peppers with aged compost or blood meal when fruit starts to form (about 2 tbsp per plant)
Keep it most until the fruit forms, then it’s alright to cut back on the water a bit.

Plants have lush foliage do not fruit or have little fruit. The soil may be nitrogen rich and lack phosphorus. Add aged compost to the planting bed before planting and side dress plants with aged compost. If night temperatures are cool place a wire cage around peppers and drape the cage with plastic at night. Increase pollination and fruit production by lightly tapping plants to make sure pollen is distributed.

Harvest To Table

Very Short Ceramic Pot

A mix of succulents and cacti (there’s a difference!) started from propogation or salvaged from dying pots.

Colorful Ceramic Pig

I’ve thrown so many things in here. It’s a smorgasboard of what can survive.

Wooden Half-Barrel

Got from armstrong gardens…

Blue Ceramic Fish Pot

has little water retaining shelf around bottom

Glass Lantern

Great for the spray-watered plants

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