Tips for Your Patio Garden
Nothing says “summer” quite like a garden of flourishing vegetables, and you don’t need acres to grow them! Whether you use your patio, porch, deck or driveway, patio gardening is a flexible solution that allows you to use whatever space you have to grow fresh crops all season long.
Most patio gardening effort lies in choosing suitable containers for your plants, understanding your plants’ needs, then sitting back and watching your garden slowly blossom to life. Use our tips to make your patio garden a flourishing success!
Pick Your Pot: Containers come in all shapes, sizes, colors and materials. Choose containers that fit the scale of your plant (larger containers for tomatoes, eggplants and peppers; smaller for herbs) and those with drainage holes at the bottom. Standard containers are available in 12, 18 and 24 inches in diameter. The bigger the container, the more room for your plants to thrive!
Suitable Soil: Garden soil is too heavy for use in containers, so choose potting mixes that take the guesswork out of gardening. Soil labeled “for vegetable use” ensures your plants receive the proper nutrients at the right ratios. For fertilizing, choose well-balanced fertilizers and fertilize every 10 to 14 days.
Soak up the Sun: Location is everything! Many crops require six to eight hours of direct sunlight each day; south or west-facing locations are best. If you don’t have full sun exposure, move your portable containers to the sunniest spots for as long as possible, or choose plants that thrive with shade and a few hours of sunshine, like lettuce, kale and chard.
Water Wisely: Don’t let the soil dry out completely! Let your fingers be the guide to
tell when it’s time to water. If the soil feels dry one to two inches below the surface, then it’s time for watering. Early morning and early evening are prime watering times. Be sure to water thoroughly until you see water flowing freely from the container’s drainage holes.
Top Options for Container Gardening
Salad Greens: Salad greens offer variety and only take a few weeks to bloom. Plant in a shallow container, and ensure the plant receives morning sunshine and afternoon shade. Fertilize when the greens are four to six inches tall, and harvest after a few weeks by cutting just the leaves you want.
Tomatoes: Since they need lots of nutrients, plant tomatoes with premium potting soil in a large pot that’s at least 10 inches in diameter and water frequently. Many tomato plants grow upwards, so add stakes or wire cages to your containers to guide the vines. Or, plant tomatoes in hanging baskets where the vines can drape down (and give your back a break!).
Peppers: From tangy bell peppers to spicy jalapeños, plant a garden of peppers! Choose a 12-inch diameter pot to give the roots room to expand. Peppers require calcium granules that reduce the chance of rotting. Add some to the soil during initial planting and as often as packaging specifies. Peppers thrive in hot climates, so make sure they receive six to eight hours of sunlight each day.
Herbs: Herbs bring extra dimension to any meal and are super easy to plant and maintain. Use containers that are at least 10 inches in diameter and always keep slightly moist. Basil, rosemary, parsley and thyme are common varieties that grow well in containers.
Harvesting is one of the greatest joys of container gardening. With plants right outside, it’s easy to enjoy fresh crops throughout the summer that are as beautiful as they are delicious! Happy gardening!