Living, Gardening

5 Easy-to-Grow Vegetables for Your Fire Escape Garden

If your apartment has access to a fire escape or a balcony, rejoice! It is an excellent way to start an alternative urban garden space and grow your own herbs and veggies, completely independent from supermarkets and grocery stores.

In my previous article, Fire Escape Garden Checklist, I shared my best tips and tricks on actually creating your garden. Today I’ll continue with the top 5 easiest vegetables to grow in there.

Spoiler: all five veggies complement each other perfectly in a salad or a stew, and it’s not a coincidence. 😌

For starters

Since balconies and fire escapes can’t usually boast a lot of space, opt for bush varieties: they are ideal to save space while having abundant harvests of food throughout the growing season.

Helpful tip: plant these crops in non-ceramic pots of organic potting soil and can be grown in the climate zone urban areas of Los Angeles (10b), Boston (6b), Seattle (8b), Chicago (5), Minneapolis (6) and New York City (4-5).  


Oh, and if you haven’t read the Fire Escape Garden Checklist yet, be sure to read it first!

Here’s a list of easy-to-grow vegetables for a fire escape and balcony garden:

Beans

Climate: Warm weather (60-90 degrees Fahrenheit). Beans like the sun and weekly deep watering.

How to grow: By direct seeding or planted as seedlings.

Best practices: Bush varieties do well in eight-inch pots with celery, carrots, or strawberries. Pole varieties thrive with a trellis for climbing. Eat beans fresh or preserve (i.e. pickling or freezing) to eat during the winter months.

Lettuce

Climate: Cool-weather (spring and fall seasons). A loose-leaf type prefers shade and moderate watering.

How to grow: By direct seeding.

Best practices: can be planted in pots with other veggies such as beans, strawberries or bush tomatoes. To encourage growth, cut and harvest lettuce often for salads.

Bush tomato

Climate: Warm weather. Tomatoes enjoy sun and weekly deep watering.

How to grow: By direct seeding or seedling.

Best practices: They thrive in large pots (12-20 inches). Tomatoes grow well with marigold flowers, nasturtium, basil, mint, and lettuce. Eat them fresh, pickle immature ones and preserve them as salsa or tomato sauce for the winter.

Spinach

Climate: Cool weather. Spinach thrives in partial shade and prefers six to eight hours of sunlight with moderate watering.

How to grow: By direct seeding or seedling

Best practices: Spinach grows well with lettuce, strawberries, and bush tomatoes. Harvest radishes within 25 to 30 days to eat fresh in salads.

Bush zucchini

Climate: Zucchini is a prolific warm-weather crop that likes sun and weekly deep watering.

How to grow: By direct seeding or seedling.

Best practices: Mint, peppers, and spinach are great companions to this crop. Eat it fresh, pickled, or sauteed for meals.

Companion gardening

I wouldn’t advise these container fire escape garden crops without sharing my experience with them, so here are some container companion gardening tips I discovered:

  • Planting bush tomatoes with basil adds flavor to the tomatoes
  • Companion planting beans with zucchini and lettuce provides nitrogen to the soil, creating a prolific vegetable container
  • Growing strawberries with spinach and lettuce creates a necessary shade for both crops

For more companion gardening techniques and combinations, do check this Companion Gardening 101 guide and my blog.


What is your experience with fire escape gardening? What are your favorite veggies and herbs to grow on a balcony? Let us know in the comments below!

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About Jacqueline Smith

Jacqueline is a guest writer at NatureHub. She writes about her experience and knowledge about sustainable urban gardening, permaculture, homesteading, and food forests.
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