I've tried out a few new things this year with my balcony / gardening to make it easier to take care of the plants.
I installed the Gardena Micro-drip System. It did cost a bunch, and one may find cheaper alternatives (I couldn't here, so I went for this), but so far so very worth it. I have most of my containers set up, only need to do the last few pots, which means I only have to hook up the garden-hose and turn it on and the plants get watered. I took care in placing the drippers and sprinklers in the right place to not waste water -- or at least, as little as possible. I water some parts manually, because that works out better.
It creates a better controlled watering -- and less waste of water -- than me hauling the big watering can around.
For even better watering I added clay pellets to the bottom of most of my containers. This works because the holes in the containers sit above these pellets. The pellets need some time to suck up the water, so this way they sit in a layer of water for an hour or so until they absorbed it all. After that, they slowly release the water, keeping the plants happy.
The heat wave we had this week didn't kill off many of my plants, which I consider proof that the system works!
For sowing I bought some of those peat pellets I've read about. I though about using them last year, however, considering their price I didn't buy them back then. This year I bought some to try and I really like them. No messing about with trying to get the poor little seedling out of the tray. The gauze around them degrades over time, although I sometimes remove it if the roots haven't grown through them yet. I've only planted a few seedlings out using these pellets and they all do well, which may or may not mean anything.
The second photo some of my mini lettuces, tiny seedlings. I have seeds for leaf lettuce and for heads of lettuce. The leafy ones I sow in a container (last picture) and for the second batch of heads I decided to try the pellets. More control over the result, I think.
I also like how I can place these little pellets in any tray I have. For the set of lettuces I only needed a small one so I recycled a little plastic tray from the store (I think it contained mushrooms or veggies). The mini greenhouse seemed a bit overkill (hello heat wave) for this purpose.
So far, I feel very pleased with the gardening results. I've harvested plenty of lettuce / leafy greens so far and have much more of that on the way. The tomatoes have started to grow by the dozen and I see bean-pods everywhere. I've had very tasty strawberries and all my herbs do well. Even the oregano that got a big blow because of the heat has started to grow again (yay!). I also have a few plants for my mother, they also look healthy. I did lose a bunch of tomato seedlings, which makes me a little sad, but seeing how I didn't have that much place left for them and they didn't look that strong and healthy, I can live with them becoming compost.