The Joys (and tears) of Small Space Gardening

I thought planting a garden from seed would be a great way to save money while getting all the plants I wanted.

I had dreams of all types of vegetables and flowers in lovely terra cotta pots filling our bleak but sun drenched upper balcony, like a cheerful cottage garden!

THE DREAM! Expectation is often very different from reality!!

The experience turned out to be drastically different. In all honesty,  it turned out to be a nerve wracking experience!

I thought I would throw a few vegetable and flower seeds in some pots and go from there.

In actuality, I spent weeks researching, watching Gardeners World, making decisions, making purchases and then organizing the seeds by rather they needed to be soaked or cold stratified, then heat and light requirements. Once they started sprouting they needed to be moved from their heated area to a grow light. Then the seedlings needed hardening off to prepare them for planting…

The entire process turned out to be an anxiety producing, hand wringing, nightmare inducing experience! Lol In the end only half sprouted and then a quarter died after planting them out and more were eaten by animals.

Would I do it again?? ABSOLUTELY! Because it has also been a very rewarding experience!

In the end, we were able to transform our upper balcony into a beautiful vegetable and butterfly garden!! Not quite the garden I was dreaming of, but one that I’m very happy with!

Our bedroom looks out on to this balcony from extra large sliding glass doors. We used to wake to a bleak, empty balcony but now we wake to Tomato plants standing 6 feet tall, birds singing, butterflies fluttering, hummingbirds and sweet, sweet little tree frogs!

Another part of the joy of gardening produce is being being able to pick it and eat it. Today, we had wonderful tomato sandwiches from our hand grown and picked produce. There’s nothing else like the taste of your own hand picked tomato.

Tomato from our vine
Bright red sliced tomato
Tomato sandwich made from our own hand picked tomatoes

We also have squash, cucumbers, potatoes and small watermelons growing along with 3 types of tomatoes, herbs, petunias and Lantana.

Due to the price of terra cotta pots, I saved money by buying 5 gallon white, food safe buckets to plant in. I chose food safe buckets over regular plastic buckets because all my research warned that the vegetables would absorb harmful chemicals from regular plastic or cheap, glazed flower pots.

Drainage is very important, so I had my husband drill drainage holes in the bottoms of the buckets. There is no garden hose hook up for the upper balcony, so I purchased a food safe dog food container with wheels so I could roll the container to the bathroom, fill it in the shower and roll it back to the balcony. This way I am able to fill a pitcher from the larger container and water the plants easily from the rolling container.

I really wanted a vegetable and Butterfly garden and I have always believed in the saying, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way!”

My best advice is, don’t be discouraged by the un-sprouted seeds, the stolen seeds (birds, squirrels and chipmunks love them), the rain drowned seeds or any of the other numerous things that could go wrong! Just do your research and do your best!!

Published by sharietomlinson

I’m Sharie. Owner of Butterfly Bunny Studio. Mixed Media Watercolor Artist, Bunny & Disney Lover, Gardener, Proud Mother to Josh, Bunny Momma to Princess Buttercup Bunny and Wifey to Jason. I am located in Columbia, Md but I’m a Harford County girl at heart! You can find me on Etsy at and on Instagram at @notjoshsmom Email me at

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: