Biointensive Balcony Gardening – How To Grow Biointensive Gardens On Balconies

Image by Michael Stange

By Susan Patterson, Master Gardener

At one point in time, urban dwellers with little more than a tiny concrete patio would chuckle if you asked them where their garden was. However, today it is being quickly re-discovered that many plants grow exceptionally well in small spaces using ancient biointensive-farming techniques. So what is biointensive gardening? Keep reading to find out more about this easy form of balcony garden growing.

What is Biointensive Gardening?

At the heart of the biointensive garden approach is the desire to use resources efficiently by doing more with less. Biointensive farming uses 99% less energy (both human and mechanical), 66 to 88% less water and 50 to 100% less fertilizer than traditional commercial growing techniques.


In addition, biointensive gardening builds a healthy soil structure and yields two to six times more food than traditional growing methods. The biointensive approach uses double-dug beds that have loosened soil to 24 inches. These beds help to aerate the soil, improve water retention and encourage healthy root growth.

Compost maintains soil health while spacing seeds close together protects the organisms in the soil, reduces water loss and results in larger yields. Companion planting is used to encourage helpful insects and the best use of light, water and nutrients.

Biointensive Balcony Gardening

Even for those dwelling in apartments, it is possible to grow biointensive gardens on balconies. Plant tasty vegetables in pots and use a light soil or soil-free mix along with plenty of compost for best results.

Deep pots are best, as they provide plenty of room for the roots to spread out. Tomatoes and cucumbers benefit from a pot that is at least 3-gallons, but herbs and smaller plants do well in 1-gallon pots.

It is essential to keep the soil in your pots very moist, they dry out quicker. Larger pots need water less frequently than smaller pots. It is essential that containers have adequate drainage. It sometimes helps to put a layer of gravel or window screen in the bottom of the pot on top of the drainage hole to keep the holes from getting plugged.

With proper plant selection and some care, it is possible to have healthy and large yields with balcony garden growing.

Biointensive Gardening Tips

Before beginning any biointensive gardening, do your research on the best plants to grow for your region. It is best to use open pollinated seeds and be sure to purchase only quality seeds from a reputable dealer. Also, consider saving your seeds for next year’s garden.

When growing vegetables in containers, provide a weekly organic fertilizer to help maximize yield. All pots and containers used in balcony garden growing projects should be cleaned thoroughly before use to avoid the spread of disease.

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