Saturday, 2 February 2013

My First Garden Balcony Installation

This is my first Balcony Garden Installation! Built at a friends apartment in Melbourne, Australia. Made completely from recycled materials! It turned a grey, boring balcony into a beautiful, living balcony.

UPDATE - The relocation [link]

This is one of the reasons why I started 'Urban Growth', to turn underutilised places in the city into beautiful areas you actually want to be in. My balcony has be steadily growing [1st post ; 2nd post ] but I wanted to make a set installation, creating something from start through to finish. As I started experimenting in my workshop [The Re-workshop] I played around with a number of planter box and trough designs. Through trial and error I developed the designs used in this installation.

There are four tomatoes in planter boxes, placed against the railing with the intent to have them trellis up creating a green wall for those sitting on the bench.
At each end of the balcony is a step of two troughs with a variety of herbs and vegetables growing for use in the kitchen.

  • Oregano
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Parsley
  • Chilli
  • Chives
  • Basil 
  • Lettuce
  • Strawberries

Then a small window sill trough brings a few flowers to the space

The balcony before the installation. Grey and boring, like so many it wasn't really being used for anything.

As mentioned above the boxes and troughs were constructed completely from recycled timber. Namely an old fence and old wood wallets, treated with a 50:50 mix of linseed oil and mineral turpentine.
They were then lined with a black plastic to ensure no chemical contamination occurs between the soil and the boxes. Cut and upturned ends of plastic pots made for effective drainage solutions and holes were drilled in bases of each box/trough.

The tomatoes looking a little sad from a heat wave that hit Melbourne the other day. However, they had been producing numerous tomatoes prior to the heat wave!



A step trough arrangement at one end.
The lettuce is yet to come through at the top left.
Some succulents at the base, always enduring in the Australian heat.

A very productive strawberry on the top level.
Parsley, sage and thyme on the bottom

I think it looks one thousand times better than what it was before! It really adds some green to such a grey dead space. 

However some hurdles have presented themselves over the last few weeks of trial. As this was my first time creating anything like this I take these hurdles as excellent opportunities to reflect on the design (plant selection, housing structures etc) and the practicality of such a garden set-up.

Aspects to consider:

  • The hot Australian sun has burnt the tomatoes into shadows of their former selves. Either a shade cloth needs to been installed or this isn't the place for them. 
  • The apartment is on the first floor (G, 1st, 2nd etc) , facing west. It gets pretty damn windy up there sometimes, mostly from a general southerly direction. Either everything needs to be staked firmly or barriers at either end need to be constructed. 
  • The balcony does not have a tap to easily fill a water bucket from or attach a hose to, making it quite awkward to water everything, often daily. I am thinking of a trick system of sorts or maybe 'ollas' to help spread out water times.
  • Construction of the planter boxes/troughs has been good with only a minor upgrade required. Of course an issue longevity is present, but I thought with a double treatment of the linseed mix and the plastic lining, they should last for a while.

Much Better!!

Below is a very short video of me showing you around the balcony.

If you like my first attempt, please share and comment!

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