Monday, June 14, 2010

Gutter Garden

I live in a condo with a small balcony.  For the past two summers I have tried different methods of growing tomatoes on my balcony.  There is just nothing like homegrown tomatoes!  After having no success I finally accepted the reality that my balcony faces north so it does not get enough sunlight for tomatoes.  So this summer I tried to find some items that might fare better in less sunlight.  I chose yellow squash, green beans, and lettuce.  I am also growing a variety of herbs inside on my windowsill.  I will tell you more about those in a later post.  Today I will focus on the lettuce.  How to grow lettuce in a very small space?  My sister sent me the link to this great solution from apartment therapy.  It seemed like the perfect solution for me.  A garden planted in a gutter! 

I bought all of the materials, drilled some holes in the bottom for drainage, and then hung the gutter on the outside of my balcony's railing (for maximum sun exposure).  I filled it with potting soil and planted a mix of different organic lettuce seeds.  In about  a week I started to see small sprouts. 

Then disaster struck!  When it rained the water collected on the edge of the balcony above ours and came down in large drops on the side of the gutter.  All the dirt was splashing out of the gutter and all over my railing. 

Here you can see the empty areas on the left hand side. 

So I went back to the hardware store and looked for something that I could use as an awning to block the raindrops without blocking the sun.  I came home with a piece of aluminum siding.  I strung wire around the brick columns on each side of the balcony to suspend the piece of siding.  Here you can see the gutter at the bottom and the awning running along the top. 

And amazingly it worked!  I had to fill in the empty spots and replant a few seeds, but then the lettuce started to grow. . .

And grow. . .

And grow. . .

This weekend I was able to pick my first batch of lettuce. 

I added some almonds, feta cheese, dried cranberries, and balsamic vinaigrette and had a delicious salad for lunch. 



  1. That is so awesome! I love how you rigged that all up too. Isn't lettuce the best thing ever to grow? I like how easy it is and tasty too.

  2. How did you hang the gutter? Where is it attached? I can't see it, but would love to know so I can copy your's fantastic!

    1. I'd also love to know... I'm about to move into an apartment that has a balcony, and I'd love to create this garden. I had pinned the gutter garden to my pinterest page last year, but since I can't drill into the exterior walls, I had been searching for a solution. What did you use to attach the gutter to the outside of the rail? It's perfect!

  3. doesn't the water drip on the your neighbours underneath? i think mine would kill me...even when i water my flowers not a single drop can fall before they get nervous...

  4. Great project! In the cooler weather like early spring and late fall before frost you can try growing snow peas or sweet pod peas--the kind that you eat the whole pod. They are fairly small plants but like to climb and could (potentially) wander onto your railings; nasturtiums and sweet peas would work in cooler weather too. Just make sure you buy the legume inoculant (look online) for the seeds before planting.

  5. I love this post! I also have a gutter garden good for you girl!

  6. It's a brilliant idea to use a gutter as a vegetable patch! I wonder why not a lot of people have thought of doing that. You wouldn't need to water your plants every day. Let nature's rain water do that for you!

    Kristopher Diss

  7. Laura, thanks for your post and pictures, I'm about to experiment with some similar growing. Like Pauline above, I'm curious about what you used to hang up the gutter. I loved how you finished your post with a nice, simple salad recipe and an awesome picture of it too. Thank you, I'm inspired!

  8. Great Idea! Thanks so much for this post - I'm definitely going to try this! :)