by Jennifer Poindexter
Are you short on space but would love to have your own vegetable garden? Perhaps, you enjoy gardening on a smaller scale. Whatever your reason for needing a smaller gardening area, you should consider raising a patio vegetable garden.
Whether you have a small balcony, a deck, or an outdoor patio, these spaces could work for producing homegrown vegetables. I’m going to share a few tips which will, hopefully, inspire you to grow a successful patio vegetable garden wherever you are. Here are my tips for this style of garden.
1. There’s a Right Growing Set-Up for Each Situation
For each growing space, there’s an appropriate growing set-up. This will boil down to logistics and personal preference.
However, you need to know your options. This will allow you to pick the best growing set-up for your particular space.
Your options consist of grow tables, containers, vertical gardening, permanent raised beds, or portable raised beds.
Grow tables are excellent for growing lettuce and other shallow-rooted vegetables. There are some grow tables which are a little deeper. They might be able to support a tomato plant, pepper plant, cucumbers, or squash. It would be a great way to grow a variety of vegetables in one small space.
Containers come in all shapes and sizes. Therefore, you could grow many of the vegetables listed above. Vertical gardens are great for growing shallow-rooted vegetables in a space-saving way.
Finally, permanent or portable raised beds are an excellent way to produce many vegetables in a contained space. The size of the beds will depend upon what works in your growing area.
2. Know How Much to Grow
When you say the words “patio garden” a different image might pop into each person’s head. Some might envision a slew of containers boasting a wide variety of crops.
Others might envision a few pots with one or two tomato plants growing within them. None of these images are wrong.
In fact, patio gardening can be whatever you want it to be. If you want to grow a few plants to enjoy small amounts of fresh produce, you’re welcome to.
If you’re trying to produce enough vegetables to avoid the grocery store during a season, you might need more plants.
Consider your end-goal before deciding how much you should grow. If it’s a hobby, don’t overwhelm yourself. If this is something you’re doing to save money, be prepared to have more plants in your patio garden and more time invested.
You should also consider how much space you have, how many people will be eating from your patio garden, and what everyone’s preferences are.
Obviously, if your entire family loves tomatoes, you might need more than one plant. However, if most people in your family don’t enjoy peppers, you shouldn’t grow too many.
These are a few things you should consider when contemplating growing vegetables in a patio garden space.
3. Proper Lighting is a Must
As with most gardens, if you have the ability to provide your plants with full sun it’s wise to do this. However, all grow spaces don’t have full sun for the majority of the day. What should you do?
In these cases, you should pick a growing set-up which allows you to move your plants with the sun. Portable raised beds, containers, and some grow tables might allow you to move things around as the sun moves.
If this isn’t an option, consider growing crops which can survive in partial sunlight. You could also supplement natural sunlight with a grow light.
Be advised, for every hour your plants need natural light, they must spend two hours under a supplemental light source.
Lighting is important to all plants’ growth. Therefore, you must ensure your crops receive what they need.
4. Water Your Plants Correctly
There is a right way and wrong way to water most plants. Shallow-rooted plants, such as lettuce, need to be watered daily.
This will keep the soil consistently moist and stop the plants from feeling stressed. However, plants with deeper roots should be watered deeply.
For plants that require deep watering, apply more water, for longer periods of time, fewer days of the week. This will allow the roots to receive moisture while also encouraging the plant to dig deeper to absorb water. All of this will encourage stronger root systems.
If you already use this watering method, in a traditional style garden, keep in mind that plants grown in containers might require watering more frequently than if they were growing in the ground. This occurs because plants growing in containers have less soil to hold moisture.
Consider the root systems of the crops you’re growing, in your patio garden, and water them accordingly.
5. Ensure Your Crops Have Quality Soil
You can’t plant your vegetables in poor quality soil and expect great things. Therefore, invest your money in quality soil or your time in amending the soil.
Most plants prefer soil that’s aerated, well-draining, and nutrient dense. Plants pull their water and food from their grow medium.
Therefore, you must ensure what the plant needs is made readily available to them. You also need to make sure the soil can hold moisture without causing the vegetable to sit in water. This can cause the plant to rot.
By planting in high-quality, well-draining soil, which also contains a good supply of nutrients, is giving your patio garden a great place to start.
6. Pick the Right Container for Each Vegetable
My mom calls my family the “Paul Bunyan Family” because my husband is a literal giant. Therefore, our children are abnormally large people.
As I wouldn’t expect my kids to fit comfortably in tight spaces, you shouldn’t expect your larger plants to prosper under cramped conditions, either.
Consider the size of the mature plant, and ensure the container you’ve chosen will support it. If not, you must find a larger container.
As a general rule of thumb, shallow-rooted crops can grow in a two-gallon container. Larger vegetables, with deeper roots, might need a ten-gallon container. Large, root vegetables might need a fifteen-gallon container when growing.
You should also avoid planting multiple vegetables in one container, unless you’re growing vegetables with root systems of a different depth.
It’s also appropriate to grow multiple vegetables, in one container, if you’ve chosen a growing set-up meant to support more than one plant.
Take these different tips into consideration when choosing the right planters and crops for your patio garden.
7. Choose the Right Vegetables
When choosing different gardening methods, a harsh reality is all plants won’t grow in every style of gardening.
Therefore, in this gardening style, you should avoid traditional corn, large watermelon varieties, and large pumpkin varieties.
However, you can grow green beans, tomatoes, peppers, squash, kohlrabi, lettuce, and more! Don’t get discouraged by focusing on the things which might not work.
Instead, focus on the plants which grow well under these different conditions. You should also celebrate that many times these plants grow better in this style of gardening because you have more control over the growing environment.
Prior to planting your patio garden, ensure the crops you choose will thrive in this style of garden.
8. Feed Your Plants
No matter where your vegetables grow, they must be fertilized from time to time. This can come in the form of amending the soil, prior to planting, or in adding fertilizer to your crops during the grow season.
There are some plants which won’t require any additional feedings while they grow. Crops, such as lettuce, produce too quickly to require additional feeding.
However, you must ensure the soil is amended prior to planting because they are depending upon those nutrients to produce.
There are other crops, such as tomatoes and peppers, which need to be fertilized when fruiting begins. Be sure to understand the needs of each variety of vegetable. If you under fertilize, the crop will suffer.
However, if you add too much fertilizer, the plant will look bushy and vibrant with little to no fruit. Take all of this into consideration while producing a patio garden.
9. Stay on Top of Weeds and Threats
When growing vegetables, in any type of garden, you must always stay aware of potential threats. Most threats come in the form of weeds, pests, or diseases.
Understand which pests and diseases frequently impact the type of vegetables that you’re growing. Check your plants regularly, and treat any issues as soon as you notice them.
You should also stay on top of weeds. Do this by either pulling weeds by hand or adding mulch around your plants.
Not only will mulch help to keep the weeds in-check, it will also help the soil retain moisture. Staying in tune to these issues can make all the difference in your patio gardening experience.
10. Invite Pollinators
The final tip for success, when patio gardening, is to add annual flowers in the midst of your vegetables. Not only does this liven up your growing space, but it also invites pollinators to your garden.
Plants require pollination to thrive. If you don’t have pollinators, you may have to pollinate by hand. Skip this entire process by planting a few extra seeds and inviting these garden helpers to your grow space.
This concludes my secrets for growing a successful patio garden. I hope these tips have inspired you to at least try this style of gardening.
Growing your own vegetables is a healthy hobby, it can save money on your grocery bill, and the products are delicious. Good luck to you on this new gardening adventure.