Grow your favorite summer edibles steps from your kitchen door when you plant produce on your patio or deck this summer. If your site gets at least six to eight hours of sunlight a day, and preferably more, you can enjoy cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs and more grown in containers.
Tips for Growing Edibles in Containers
- Select large containers for growing edibles, at least 14 to 22 inches in diameter. They hold more soil, more plants and more moisture.
- Use organic moisture retentive potting soil. You can also mix potting soil and organic compost in a 1:1 ratio.
- Decks and balconies can be windy. Secure containers or use weights like rocks inside the containers.
- Containers need watering at least once a day. Drip irrigation and self-watering containers will free you from the hose and can save your plants.
- Mix containers of flowers in with vegetables for a foodscape. Bright summer annuals like marigolds and zinnias are ideal companions for summer produce.
- Treat pests organically. This close to your living space, you’ll want to hand pick pests or seek gentle remedies to protect your produce.
6 Edibles for Your Patio
1. Tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. In the Garden Center, look for bush-type tomatoes. Scan the plant tags for the words “compact” or “patio.” Rambling, indeterminate tomato varieties can work, too, just be sure to stake or cage them immediately after planting them. Gardeners get busy and plants will get out of hand before you can get the plant secured.
Feed tomatoes with an organic all-purpose fertilizer often and keep an eye out for pests like tobacco hornworms. Slicers will give you something to look forward to late in the summer, but cherry tomato plants will produce right away. With the container just a few steps from the kitchen, access to the salad bowl is that much easier. Learn more from Top Tips for Growing the Best Tomatoes Ever.
2. Cucumbers. Choose a trellis when you grow cucumbers in a small space because these vines were just made for vertical gardening. You’ll also want plenty of soil in your container to encourage the extensive root system they’ll need to support the plants. In addition to trellises, you can also use tomato cages to train the vines.
Cucumber beetles can be a problem with cucurbits like cucumbers. Make a habit of “scouting” your garden during the season, checking under leaves for signs of pests. A spray of Neem oil will take care of cucumber beetles.
3. Green beans come in vining and bush type varieties. The flavor of the beans may be the deciding factor on which kind to plant; vining plants are easily trellised and bush type varieties are carefree. You can start beans from seeds, thumbing in the seeds about three inches deep and three inches apart. Seeds will germinate in about a week.
Like most vegetables, feed growing beans with an all-purpose organic fertilizer about once a month.
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.
Look for new sterile basil varieties like Proven Winners’ ‘Amazel Basil’ that are reluctant to “bolt,” or flower, in late summer. Instead, they continue to produce flavorful leaves for your culinary creations.
5. Zucchini. Well, why not grow zucchini on your patio? If your site has enough sun and space, go ahead and pop zucchini seeds or seedlings into a container and watch what happens. On the seed packet or plant tag, look for mature height and spacing suggestions.
Zukes produce lovely blooms. Harvest them for a treat, such as fried stuffed zucchini blossoms.
6. Jalapenos and other peppers are delightful additions to your patio garden. It’s fun to let peppers mature beyond the green stage for red, yellow and orange fruit that adds color to your patio display. Jalapenos need a lot of sun, more than six hours, and grow about three feet tall. Pepper plants are usually sturdy, but you may want to stake them for extra support.
Read more about growing vegetables in 5 Best Vegetables to Grow Organically.