Introduction: Organic Balcony Garden

About: I am just a guy who love making things Proud father of 2, I cook, build lots of things, learn new things (CAD, Arduinno...), gardening etc... Oh yes, I love cardboard, skateboards and Hydroponics/aquaponics! …

I live in the middle east of France, in the city of Lyon. For sometimes now I run a garden on my balcony. I have had successes (with strawberries, cucumber and tomatoes) and major fails (zucchini...). I first started with a couple of tomatoes to show my son how was Nature running. It helps also to keep my son focused on taking care about living things and respecting the environment.

As today I am completely resetting my pattern, I will share with you what will be my 2017 Organic Balcony Garden.

I will add more Urban Organic Garden I'ble in the coming months. To ease the navigation for you, there will be a dedicated step listing all related I'bles I have made.

If it happens that you like this I'ble, please favourite and share it.

You can also check my collection about this organic urban garden

Step 1: Main Data, Objectives and Lessons Learned

Meteo in the city of Lyon

According to Wikipedia:

"Lyon has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa), albeit having some characteristics of the oceanic climate (Cfb).
The mean temperature in Lyon in the coldest month is 3.2 °C (37.8 °F) in January and in the warmest month in July is 22 °C (71.6 °F), hence maintaining its subtropical classification. Precipitation is adequate year-round, at an average of 830 mm (32.7 in), but the winter months are the driest. The highest recorded temperature is 40.5 °C (104.9 °F) on August 13, 2003 while the lowest recorded temperature is −24.6 °C (−12.3 °F) on December 22, 1938."

In 2016 we recorded +45°C in august and 5°C in February. It can be also windy and thus dangerous for the weakest plants.

With appropriate care, we can grow almost what we want here.

For 2017 I have clear objectives for my garden.


  • keep it organic
  • optimize my balcony garden
  • diversify the plants that I am growing and focus on herbs
  • integrate an automatic watering system (that will be another I'ble)
  • share it with you to have your feedback and lessons learned

Main lessons learned from past years

  • organization is key
  • watering is key if I want my plants to be alive when back from summer vacations
  • all plants grow on a balcony but some better than the others (like strawberries, tomatoes...)

Step 2: Past Years Sketch

Here is the garden I ran last year. I just realized that I had not that much pics of it so I mixed with 2015 pics.

I grew in 2016:

  • 3 tomatoes
  • 10 strawberries
  • 1 sage / thymus / parsley / mint / chives
  • 3 lettuce / lamb's lettuce
  • 1 verbena


2016 has been a very good year for my tomato and verbena. They both produced very well, tomatoes were succulent and verbena made so much leaves that I didn't had to buy extra to make my home made organic herbal tea for this winter. Globally herbs did well too.

Strawberries were catastrophic: not a single one reached our plates. I read that strawberries were producing fruits up to 3 years. Don't know if it is true but I will stop to grow strawberries in 2017.

Lettuce and lamb's lettuce, which I like very much, did well too but with very little leaves which is not very convenient.

Step 3: 2017's Sketch

What I plan:

  • increasing tomatoes as it has always given a lot of fruits
  • stopping strawberries because it doesn't produce enough and I would need too much to have a single dessert for the whole family.
  • diversifying my herbs to have more choices and make different blends for my herbal tea


On the sketch, one can see the new pattern for the garden. On the right end, I had a recycled pallet wood herbs garden which I seed with parsley and basil. Well drained, they will be at the sunny end of the balcony with the tomatoes. I will plant twice as much tomatoes as last year, hoping for good salads to come.

I have moved my verbena from a small to a quite bigger pot, allowing more place for the roots.

I will recycle a large pot where I tried last year to grow strawberries with absolutely no success and plant oregano and anise, much for fun.

I will keep my mint and some lettuce.

Step 4: Status (Feb 2017) and Upcoming Updates

Here are the pics of the balcony today.

As you can see, things are still in winter mode here but we are slowly getting into a standard mode.

I tried to build a green house for my mint. I am not sure about the results but it will be a good basis for winter protection.

I have started to think about my automatic watering system. I will focus it on the tomatoes and basil which seems to me the most demanding plants. My idea is to have a gravity powered system with an arduino based regulation. My goal is to be able to water my whole tomatoes and basil, and may be the whole balcony, for at least 3 weeks.

I have also planted the oregano indoor.

I will add some more steps from time to time to present you the result of this new sketch and this year 2017 organic balcony garden.

Step 5: March 2017

Lots of news and modifications in our initial baseline.

First, we have now a 100l reservoir to save water. I used an old bucket which obviously was too old... It will ease the watering of our pots and save water (even if we have no dough it is so important). It will be the basis of an automated gravity powered automatic watering system I am designing at the moment (I need help so if you are interest, let me know)

Then we have new room-mates here with a brand new wormery. That was a plan i Had for years now and with a little bit more efforts than last year I managed to convince the whole family to welcome our new friends. It is starting but I am pretty confident and very happy to see that we have finally done it.

Finally I have decided to test several technics related to hydroponics. each of them will have its own I'ble but I will aslo shortly present the results here. Today I have set up 2 systems: a DWC and a wick system. Next one will be a raft system. I will present more pics next time I update this I'ble.

Let's now share about the state of our urban balcony garden:

  • We have now a nice looking verbena with lots of fresh leaves
  • I have planted a gosseberry tree.
  • At the bottom of the gooseberry one can see onions
  • the different lettuces are up
  • In the herbs garden, the parsley is fighting with the chive.

All seems to be running well.

Next week, we should receive chamomile, lavender and lemon-grass (my wife's special as preferred target for mosquitoes). We will also have found enough wood to build a workbench around the reservoir. That's another super project I have.

Post a comment if you have a remark, a question or a suggestion. I am a beginner so I would be pleased to have your feedback ;-)

Step 6: Update April 2017

Lots of new comers here.

First I launched 3 projects regarding hydroponics on my balcony: a wick system and 2 DWC. Let's discover the associated I'ble (wick, DWC 1, DWC 2)

We also welcomed new plants:

  • chamomile
  • lavender
  • basil
  • courgette
  • tomatoes (cherry, black and "normal")
  • sweetpepper

All other plants are running well as you can see on the pictures, except may be the herbs garden which seems to have difficulties to restart (not the chives...)

Step 7: May 2017 Update

Lots of news.

Lots of pests, diseases and fungi turned to cut one tomato plant. We exhange with paprika.

Let's see it in detail on the pics

Step 8: June 2017

Lots of great news with our first harvest and booming vegetables.

Let's have a look at the pics.

Any questions? Post a comment.