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Ask Erik: RAW! - Patio Dreaming

If your urban gardening crop is more “unsightly” than these flowers, you can still grow successfully and protect your privacy. If your urban gardening crop is more “unsightly” than these flowers, you can still grow successfully and protect your privacy.

Q:

I live in an apartment complex where there are rules about growing plants on your balcony. The thing is, there are few better simple pleasures in life for me than picking my own home grown under the open sky. I live and work in a city, so becoming a farmer or living somewhere with some property to grow outdoors is not an option for me right now.

Remember that your balcony is going to get TONS of intense light in the summer, so cutting back on light a little for privacy may actually help the plants as well as help to keep them hidden.

A friend of mine brought back some seeds from her travels that are said to be an “auto-flowering” variety. I have decided to grow them on my balcony, which is South-West facing. I am on the top floor, so nobody can see my balcony from above, just below and from the sides. Any tips, especially on keeping these darlings out of sight without cutting back on light levels too much?

A:

It’s crazy to me that any “intelligent” society would outlaw growing plants. Of course, common sense applies when introducing non-native species. However, growing any non-invasive plant is between you and the Creator, as far as I am concerned. I suppose the management corporation is attempting to keep views sterile, as to prevent any “unsightly” plants.

While you might not expect any trouble from above, consider that there may be window washers, painters and other contractors that might end up in sight of your balcony. What they are going to do or say about your garden is a roll of the dice. However, keeping involved with your local building strata happenings (as much fun as drinking poison) can keep you alerted as to when to expect maintenance, inspections, etc. Keeping your plants out of sight, even from close up is your best option though.

Translucent building materials like corrugated fibreglass or polycarbonate might be your ticket. You can use clear corrugated fibreglass or polycarbonate too. However, you will likely want some shade cloth, which can be unsightly and conspicuous if you use clear materials. Remember that your balcony is going to get TONS of intense light in the summer, so cutting back on light a little for privacy may actually help the plants as well as help to keep them hidden.

Basically, you construct something out of the corrugated translucent building materials that looks like a well built storage chest on your balcony with a hinged opening as the lid/top. Pre-build the box somewhere else, disassemble, package well and make sure you can put it together quick and quiet back on your balcony.

Your auto-flower strains will likely stay less than a few feet tall, especially if given adequate light, so the box doesn’t need to look obtrusive due to height. You can fill the bottom of your storage box/greenhouse with soil, or better yet, keep plants in pots in case you have to move them in a hurry.

The hinged lid will act as a vent to help control temperature and humidity in your balcony greenhouse box. You can get a Solar Greenhouse Vent Opener and attach it to the lid. Without electricity, the vent arm will extend to open the lid when it gets too warm, allowing for ventilation in the grow-box.

Watch for moulds and mildews on dense flowers and foliage if you don’t have good airflow through your box, and be mindful of plant spacing too. Foliar feeds with trichoderma-based microbial products will help to keep the foliage, flowers and fruits healthy and trouble free.

Feed at the roots occasionally with a complete 100% organic base nutrient to prevent excessive growth. However, don’t be stingy with amino-based bloom boosters to really fatten your girls up out under the natural sun. Good luck, and stand fast!

Cheers, Erik Biksa

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Figure out the window washers’ schedule if you’re going to grow “unsightly” hydroponics plants on your apartment balcony or patio.
Last modified on Friday, 31 August 2012 12:03

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