A balcony of berries: My experiments with urban fruit growing

Finding the perfect balcony berry

Credit: Carolyn Jones

Finding just the right berry bushes for my townhouse balcony


I’ve been experimenting with growing fruit on the very hot, west-facing, second-floor balcony of my townhouse. The blueberries roasted in the dry sun, so they have been moved. The strawberries loved the sun but are a bit too vigorous for the location, so will be thinned.

The true champions are the ‘Tulameen’ raspberries. They are trained against the south-facing end wall of my balcony, so they get sun from about noon on. This cultivar is delicious – the first thing I do each morning is step outside and eat a handful of raspberries. Sometimes a bird has a little taste too, and I enjoy sharing.

Tulameen raspberries: The reigning champions

Best of all, I think of the breeder of this cultivar, Dr. Hugh Daubeny, who volunteered at VanDusen Botanical Garden when I worked there. “Mr. Soft Fruit” is Hugh’s nickname, and he bred some of the most successful berries grown around the world while working for Agriculture Canada. See Hugh’s musings here.

I have used a sand-and-humusy soil for these berries. As you can see, the producing canes are starting to decline. Once the harvest is over, I’ll cut those to the ground and encourage new shoots that will bear next summer. This is a very productive use of a small (but sunny) space.