This looks like it will be a fun series on the NY Times website: The Starter Garden: A Novice in Search of Bounty.
...I resolved to plant a brand new vegetable garden. The plan is to transform my family’s diet, save a few coins, make over the property — and, maybe, receive a congratulatory note from Michael Pollan for my new green virtue. To keep sentimentality at bay — I’m thinking of all those paeans to the sensual pleasures of loam — I intend to unloose my inner bean counter. This means keeping a strict account of how much money and time I bury in the garden, and the cash value of the produce I pull out (at Whole Foods prices).
I am itching to get a garden going myself. For the last couple of months, I've been attempting to start some herbs using a Chia Herb Garden that I bought on a 50% off sale at Rite Aid. One of the pots was a non-starter, and I managed to kill two others, but I'm left with a pot of parsley that seems to be off to a healthy start.
The question is, what next? The summer before last, I had a nice tomato plant on my balcony. Last summer, my garden more or less died when I went off on my 2-week vacation without enough watering arranged. This year, I'm itching to have lots of flowers and vegetables, though I don't want to go overboard planting things that won't survive. And I'm also trying to figure out where I'll put them, as Sweetie has a bit of a yard where we could plant a few things. Does anyone have recommendations for good plants for a very hot, sunny balcony, and a kind of rocky, shady yard?