This Bountiful Harvest from Your Patio

At National Garden Bureau, we like to encourage even the brown thumbs out there to attempt gardening, even if on a small scale. And what better way to start than with produce grown on your own patio?

Container growing offers many benefits, not the least of which is that you can put a “garden” just about anywhere. Cement balconies on a highrise building can become urban gardens, and a backyard deck or patio becomes a produce garden at your fingertips. Some of the top vegetable breeders are encouraging this trend by breeding smaller more compact varieties that still are prolific producers.

Without a doubt, container gardens will require less weeding than their in-ground counterparts. This makes them ideal for busy people who love gardening but have limited time. However, watering has to be monitored more closely. Containers in hot sun can dry out quickly, and even a gentle summer breeze will wick moisture from plants. Be prepared to water daily or even twice daily during long, hot, dry spells.

As for supplies, the shopping list is small:

* Appropriately sized container (bigger is usually better)
* Good quality growing medium
* Young plants or seeds
* Stakes or cages if growing vining edibles

After that, with a little sun, a little water and a little patience, you’ll soon have fresh delicious vegetables and herbs at your back door (or front door!). We always feel a little “Martha Stewartish” when we can step out the back door, snip a few herbs, grab a handful of tomatoes and a pepper or two then go back inside to continue with our meal preparation.

Helpful tips from NGB and our members:

Tips on selecting the right container can be found herefrom National Garden Bureau.

A list of varieties appropriate for container growing are detailed by Renee’s Garden.

Johnny’s Seeds has a blog post about mixing vegetables herbs and flowers all in the same container for a very trendy look. (It’s the January 26, 2010 blog post in this link.)

Thompson & Morgan offers several books and we like this one, “Fresh Food from Small Spaces.”

A large selection of suitable containers can be found herefrom Gardener’s Supply as well as a helpful article about self-watering containers for vegetables. And more: ideas and advice on which herbs and vegetables grow well together.

Botanical Interests offers some fun tips for crazy containers and combinations you can try.

For more on growing container edibles, click here for the “Veggies in Containers” article from NGB.

Happy Gardening, Cooking, and Eating!