A south Etobicoke, south-facing balcony, 3rd floor

Click on images below for a larger picture.

I'm an avid balcony gardener, have been for the past couple of years. I've got one hanging tomato plant, four types of heirloom tomatoes (two to a pot), a huge storage bin that has a bundle of different herbs, green onions, several types of mint, some flowers for the bees, lavender, a hanging ivy and catnip on the floor for my cat.

The tomatoes are only just starting to ripen (August 2009) but they were all started from seed and shot straight up almost to the ceiling! All the rain and cooler temps made my garden so lush, particularly the ivy.

For materials, I have used several types of containers - some small conventional plastic pots, mostly for the herbs and two of the tomato plants. The herbs were put into a large storage bin. To encourage good drainage and adequate water reaching the roots, I inserted a plastic water bottle with the end cut off into the middle of the bin and buried it in soil just to the top rim. When I water the herbs, I pour water directly into the water bottle top, which enables the entire soil to be properly watered, rather than just the top portion. I found this to be incredibly useful, though this year the need for intensive watering was minimal. It's a similar idea to the glass water bulbs that you stick into the soil. I also purchased the metal pot holder from Ikea, which is great for balconies that have a railing but very little ground area for tables and stands. Having so much greenery is an excellent way to provide shade from the burning afternoon sun.

I had an attack of aphids on some kale back in July, which unfortunately spread to one of my tomato plants. The kale had to be discarded, soil and all, but the tomato plant I saved by spraying it with a solution of natural dish soap and water in a spray bottle and wiping off all the little creatures before they sucked the plant dry. Though I had to amputate the poor plant, just last week I spotted new little tomatoes budding on the one surviving branch - the plant is called the Whippersnapper, a hardy little variety, as I'm finding out! The bugs seem to dislike citronella as well, so I placed my potted citronella amongst the Whippersnapper and other tomatoes near it, just in case.

Next year, I'd like to make more use of the vertical space along the wall to plant peas, since I already have a trellis hanging up. Other than the general lack of adequate sunshine for the tomatoes and the aphid episode, it's been a very productive summer!

Thank you Colette Slone