the balcony project

The Balcony Project: surveying

In addition to the back garden, we also have a front balcony. Now that the garden is well under way, I want to tackle some container planting for it.

The first stage of the permaculture design process is surveying: site, resources, and client requirements.


  • North-facing, though not overshadowed, so some evening sunlight especially in summer.
  • Paved.
  • First floor (so need to watch the weight!).
  • 4.5m x 1m.
  • No water supply (any water has to be brought up from the ground floor). However, there is a drainpipe at the corner (possibly shared with next door?). Slight overhang above so doesn’t get much rainfall either.
  • Fairly windy, but with some protection to about a metre up.
  • Some containers, but nothing fixed.
  • Railing provides some potential support for climbing plants.


  • Plenty of containers of various sorts available.
  • Some already-planted containers: violas, primroses, pansies, evening primrose.
  • Possibility of propagating some plants from the back garden (or using some of my seed collection).
  • Some compost from the back garden compost heap, but is likely to need supplementing with bought compost (or wait for longer to plant more!).

Client requirements

  • Enough space to sit out on folding chairs.
  • Attractive when seen through balcony window — I’d like some flowers!
  • Attractive during the winter — at least something that will survive or even thrive through winter.
  • Nothing poisonous to dog or baby if they eat it.
  • At least one food-productive plant.
  • Minimal cost setup.
  • Neglect-tolerant / low maintenance.

The next part of the process is the analysis: sectors, zones, and input/output, which I’ll consider in the next post, before coming to the design.


Spring harvest!

This week: the first harvest of broad beans from the garden. Two generous and insanely tasty portions eaten with baked sweet potatoes and baked tofu.


And a big bowl of fresh green leaves – the lettuces have really liked the damp weather. (I fear they may bolt soon now we’re having a heatwave.)