There’s no right or wrong way to go about starting a balcony garden. But, there are ways you can make your experience easier and more enjoyable. By starting with a garden basics kit, you set yourself up with all you need to get growing. Of course, this list is not the be-all-end-all, but it’s not designed to be. It forms the foundation of your growing experience – just like your garden, you will continue to add and grow as needed.

Watering Can
This sounds obvious, but most people wonder why they even need a watering can. This handy device can carry between, one, two, or up to nine litres of water, making it easy to water multiple plants without the several back-and-forth trips to the tap. So, what’s the difference to a large bottle of water? Eventually, you will need to mix fertiliser – if you want to give your plants a boost in growth – and the size of the opening on the watering can will make this far easier. Plus, it’s a lot more decorative than your average water bottle. You can find a variety of (fun!) colours and shapes.

Tarp or Protective Cover
There’s no doubt about it, gardening can be dirty work. Not all the time, but if you’re planting seedlings or repotting, it can be difficult to contain all the potting mix. To help, lay a tarp or waterproof sheet down. That way, you can make as much mess as you want and then simply empty it into a compost bin or common area garden beds. It beats having to sweep!

Fertiliser
If you want your plants to grow well, you will need to feed them with a fertiliser. They are available in a variety of formats – organic pellets, soluble, liquid, and prills – and work in different ways. Personally, I like liquid fertilisers as they’re fast-acting (plants take up nutrients in liquid form). Look for one that’s an organic blend as it also contains organic matter to help nourish the soil, too.

Organic Insecticide
Insect pests are inevitable. Even if you live on the 24th floor of a high-rise building. Trust me, I’ve tried. Somehow, mealy bugs, aphids, and even caterpillars will make the journey up to visit and feast on your plants. And if they’re not treated, they can cause plant health to quickly decline. An certified organic insecticide is generally made up of naturally occurring ingredients, like botanical oils and/or pyrethrum. Look for the ACO logo (Australian Certified Organic) when purchasing, to guarantee it’s certified organic.

Quality Potting Mix
Not all potting mixes are created equal, but they are manufactured to an Australian Standard, so you can rest assured what you purchased is fit for purpose. Potting mixes will either have a red or black tick, which means they’re compliant with Australian Standards. Black is a standard mix, it will provide a base for your plants to grow, but you will need add nutrients and other ameliorants for plants to thrive. A red tick product is a premium product and contains additives like water crystals, slow-release fertilisers, and wetting agents to assist with plant growth. The difference between the two is typically a few dollars, so I always recommend going for the premium product.

Few other items to consider: hand trowel and fork, bucket, secateurs, broad-brimmed hat, and sunscreen (especially if you’re pottering for hours).

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