We really like to have some patio pots of veggies around the deck. Veggies add to the overall feel of summer and make a nice compliment to the flowers that occupy most of our patio pots. For those with balcony gardens you know that container veggies are the only way to get super-fresh, homegrown flavour.
First – growing veggies in patio containers is EASY… in lots of ways it is easier than growing veggies in our soil garden beds, as a patio veggie garden has:
All you need is a minimum of 6 hours of sunlight. Growing in containers alleviates problems with soil-borne diseases, nematodes or poor soil conditions.
Almost any vegetable that will grow in a backyard garden will also do well in a container. The key is avoiding some of the really jumbo varieties like zucchini’s or squash or even some of the bigger vine type tomatoes. All the lettuces, spinach, onions, beets, radishes, etc will all thrive in a patio garden. Root crops like carrots will do well if you have both a deep enough pot and nice, loose potting mix.
Tomatoes typically are of two ‘types’ – vine types (which we call indeterminate) and typically grow very tall and ‘bush’ types (determinant) which are shorter. For patio gardens we typically chose ‘bush’ types as they are easier but if you are prepared to add a trellis or a big tomato cage you might try a vine type, being brave with your tomato choice can be very fun. Even bush type tomatoes need a cage or staking. Some older tomatoes we like on patios are ‘Patio Hybrid’, ‘Tiny Tim’, ‘Sweet 100 Patio’ and ‘Early Girl’. Read the plant tags to see how tall they get – be brave and make sure to try a new variety every year.
We really like some of the dwarf or bush types of cucumbers and melons. Like tomatoes, there are many great varieties - a few to look for include plants like ‘Bush Sugar Baby’ Melons, Cucumber ‘Salad Bush’, ‘Bush Pickle’ Cucumber or ‘Small Wonder’ Squash
Eggplant looks good in a patio pot – they have a nice looking flower too. Make sure you stake an eggplant as they can get top heavy (rocks in bottom of patio pot as you plant good idea too) - ‘Hansel’ Eggplant is one of many that will work well.
You can use just about any kind of container; just make sure it is large enough to support the plants when they are full size and has good drainage. With patio veggie gardens we always think ‘bigger’ is better when you are selecting your patio pots as the veggies dry out quickly in the hot sun. Check each day to see if we need to water and while we like watering plants we try to not water more than once a day – so using bigger pots will save on too frequent watering.
Do not use garden soil as it holds too much moisture when wet, resulting in too little air for the roots. A lightweight potting soil works best especially if you plan to grow any root crops like carrots. Some potting soils have ‘moisture control’ type products added and we think that is a fine idea for patio veggies.
If you use a soil with fertilizer added, your plants should have enough nutrients for 6-8 weeks. If plants are grown longer than this, add a water-soluble fertilizer at the recommended rate. Repeat every 2 to 3 weeks. Make sure you do not over-fertilize or you will burn the plants.