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Plants

Your guide to turning a tiny L.A. balcony into an edible oasis

Illustration of various plants in pots on a balcony patio.
(Liana Jegers / For The Times)

Land owners have all the fun when it comes to gardening, right? All that luscious soil spreading out before them, offering limitless opportunities to grow all things delicious.

But here’s the deal people: Unless you’re feeding an army, you can grow all kinds of food for you and your family in pots on any sunny balcony or patio or porch. And it’s simpler than creating huge garden beds.

In fact, sometimes pots are preferable. In Southern California, it’s easier to grow acid-loving blueberries in the controlled soil of a half wine barrel than to try to grow them in our typically alkaline ground.

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And thanks to the miracle of dwarf and ultra-dwarf hybrids, you can grow any number of fruit trees in barrels as well, even avocados, which in their non-dwarf state can get bigger than houses.

So go ahead and plant a charming little lime tree just outside your patio door. You can easily harvest them, no ladders needed.

Heirloom tomatoes too can also grow to massive size. But new dwarf varieties mean anyone with a good-sized pot can join in our national passion for growing the craziest, tastiest, biggest or sweetest tomato.

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The same goes for leafy greens, cucumbers, garlic, green beans, basil... the possibilities of what you can grow are only limited by the size of your balcony and your pocketbook, since one of the primary secrets, say our experts, is getting the best soil you can afford to fill your pots.

Read on for tips and gardening wisdom from some of Southern California’s smartest container farmers, then roll up your sleeves.

A healthy, delicious garden of veggies, fruits and herbs is just a few steps away on your sunny porch, patio or balcony.

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