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You hoped to have a House Beautiful garden, but your domicile is an apartment with a balcony. No problem--thanks to container gardening, you can have a beautiful garden in limited space. But here's a container gardening tip: don't limit yourself to thinking small. While you can do "dish gardens" in your apartment, a container garden will dry out quickly if you use a pot that has less than 15 quarts capacity. Also, you'll need deep pots for container vegetable gardening with deep rooted vegetables.
Your container garden design won't depend so much on your balcony space as on the sun and wind conditions, also the types of plants you want to grow. Don't let the small space limit you--anyone can have a magazine spread garden on several acres of land, but growing hot peppers on a balcony in Los Angeles? Now that's beautiful.