Grow a salad garden just outside your door with pots of vegetables and herbs. Small-space gardening is easy with good-sized containers, well-draining moisture-retentive potting mix and quality plant starts.
Keep a few things in mind with container-grown edibles on patios and balconies:
- Begin with a large planter, at least 15 inches deep and wide.
- Be mindful of excessive heat, and in the case of balcony gardens, wind.
- Keep an eye on the moisture level and be sure to use quality potting mix. In the case of a drying wind, you may need to move the plants around to get the ideal location, and be sure to stake them, if needed.
Here are four edibles container-ready for the patio.
1. Cucumbers. Start with a Miracle-Gro Growables seed pod, or starts from the Garden Center. Be sure to trellis or stake the cukes after they take off. Water often. Fresh picked cucumbers are tasty raw or lightly pickled, and absolutely delish thinly sliced and layered in sandwiches.
2. Tomatoes. Bush types are best for the porch or deck, but rambling, indeterminate varieties can work, too, just be sure to stake or cage them. Fertilize with an organic all-purpose fertilizer often and keep an eye out for pests like tomato hornworms. Slicers will give you something to look forward to late in the summer, but cherry tomatoes will produce right away. With the container just a few steps from the kitchen, access to the salad bowl is that much easier. Here are Top Tips for Growing the Best Tomatoes Ever.
3. Peppers. Chile peppers are a natural for the patio or balcony. Banana peppers, jalapeños or poblanos all will thrive in the heat of the summer. Freeze or dry peppers to preserve the harvest.
4. Basil. More than any other herb, basil speaks of hot summer days and spicy summer nights. Kitchen gardeners make pesto from bunches of basil in the garden, and tuck leaves into fresh-squeezed lemonade for a little extra kick. Basil needs six to eight hours of sun each day. Feed regularly with an organic all-purpose plant fertilizer, and top with mulch to help retain moisture.
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