Before choosing your plants, it is important to determine your sunlight amounts on your balcony space. Mapping in a journal, with a date, will be invaluable for years to come. Start with a rough draft of the area and, using tracing paper, make several copies. About two hours after sunrise, observe where the light and shade fall and mark those areas on the tracing paper with the time. Repeat this process every hour, ending one hour before dusk. Once you’re done for the day, colour the sunny spots with yellow and the shady spots with blue. Stack the papers from earliest to latest, you can now accurately assess where to plant what! Simple! It’s easy, either a plant gets enough light or it doesn’t. The intensity of sunlight varies based on time of day as well. Morning rays are soft while afternoon rays blaze and sizzle. A great majority of plants thrive in 6 hours of sun. It is also important to note that if you are marking spaces in early spring with trees near by that haven’t gotten their leaves back, you will have to map the space again once the green canopy emerges.
Another method: One day in May, make a plan to wake a little before dawn so you can determine the first spot that gets early morning sunshine, and then take pictures every 30 minutes until the sun sets. This will allow you to determine the areas that get the most sunlight for the longest period of time and which remain shaded
Types of sunlight – sunlight required for a plant to maximize performance:
Full sun: plants require at least 6 hours of sun per day
Part sun: 3-6 hours per day either in morning or evening NOT during the hottest time of day
Part shade: 3-6 hours per day. NEEDS absolute shade during the hottest part of the day
Full shade: 3 or less hours per day and either light shade or filtered light the rest of the time.
A good reference for researching which fruits, veggies and herbs are best for you and your space, check out: http://m.almanac.com/content/information-about-plants-vegetables-herbs-fruit-guides