While I haven't been doing flowers for years, I have been planting vegetables on my balconies since my last apartment with an outdoor space. What do I plant? Tomatoes (always), basil (perfect partner for the tomatoes) and mint (mojito anyone) are always on my list. Each year I also try a new herb or pull something out of the rotation if it hasn't grown well the past year, or if I didn't use it much the prior year. This year I added sage and opted not to plant rosemary. I've already used more sage this year than I used rosemary all of last year - a good swap.
My balconies face northeast, which restrict the type of plants I can have. I don't get much direct sun, but I get enough to dry out the dirt pretty quickly. Since I travel a decent amount year round, I think my plants suffer from inconsistent watering. I do a great and consistent job of watering when I'm in town. Not so much when I'm gone since I hate to put someone out by asking them to stop by and water.
I did make a decision this year to buy a self watering planter - one designed to hold multiple tomato plants. I don't know anyone who has this type of equipment, so I had to rely solely on internet reviews -- and as we all know, you can't trust the crazy reviews from people on the internet :)
While I was recovering from my fall, I received about 5 of the same catalogs from Garden Supply. Since I really couldn't do anything else, I leafed through them. Fast forward a couple months, I have many trips planned for the summer (a week each in LA, DC, Oregon and Europe) and 8 heirloom tomato seedlings on my balcony. Since I want these plants to survive and more importantly I want to gorge on these great little treats (coupled with my continued wish not to put anyone out to water my plants) I decided to buy a couple self watering planters.
I've only been using them for a week now, but so far I think they are great. The reviews complained about how difficult they were to put together, but that's just crazy. I'll do a quick little write up on the delivery and assembly of these planters next week. But so far, I would totally recommend them to someone who is in my position.