You don’t need a big yard or a lot of land to grow food. All you need is good soil, water, sunlight, and determination. Oh and time, you have to water them regularly and weed a little too. In the past few months my daughter and I started a small patio garden (in addition to our plot at the community garden). So far it has been a success, the plants on our patio are doing very well, in some cases even better than the plants at the big garden.
We started with a rectangular self watering planter that my husband bought for us at the Home Depot. We divided the box up into four parts and planted according to the “Square Foot Gardening” method. (We used the SFG mix of compost, vermiculite, and peat moss in the box). We planted a tomato plant, a cucumber plant, a pepper plant, and 12 small radishes. So far every plant has produced. The radishes were ready in a month. We are still waiting for the tomatoes to ripen. It will be interesting to see if they have yellow shoulder disorder. (The tomatoes at the community garden have this. It is cause by a potassium deficiency. We didn’t fertilize enough. That was a mistake).
The cucumber plant has been very feisty. We bought a really cool bamboo trellis at the hardware store, (for $5.00). I set that next to the rectangular planter so the cucumber plant could climb. Apparently, the trellis wasn’t enough, the cucumber plant started branching out onto the balcony railing as well. That was fine, we had a giant cucumber hanging from the railing for a while, which was pretty amusing.
Another fantastic addition to our patio garden was herbs. We joined a CSA this year and we received 6 different herb plants as part of our weekly produce early this summer. I transplanted them into larger pots and they are doing great. It is a lot of fun to step outside the door to the patio and grab some herbs to use for cooking or homemade salad dressing. I found a plant stand/pots, (below), at the good will store for $10.00, which was also a really good find. It is a little worn, but I really like the use of vertical space. (That’s a pepper plant in the picture, it was only in the herb garden temporarily).
A few weeks ago I decided to try growing a Napa cabbage in a hanging pot. I was a little worried that the planter might not be big enough, but Napa cabbage is supposed to take up less space than a regular green cabbage. (Only time will tell if it will mature fully, so far so good). I currently have it encased in tulle to keep the cabbage worms out. I had an incident earlier this summer with some Kale I had planted in a hanging pot. It was visited by one of those little white butterflies. I spent a long time using tape to get the eggs off the leaves before they hatched. (Not fun). It was a valuable lesson, an ounce of prevention goes a LONG WAY in gardening.
I will note that the Napa cabbage on the balcony is doing very well. The 3 Napa cabbages I planted at the community garden are not doing so well. They have a lot of holes in them and don’t look healthy. Some sort of pest got to them, (despite the tulle tent I made over them). I think the soil there might be a factor too, but I am not sure. The SFG mix is fantastic, and I use it on all the patio garden plants.
I recently bought a few deck railing planters that hang on the front of the balcony. I planted 4 types of lettuce in each of those, and they are starting to grow well. I grew lettuce at the community garden, but this is more convenient. It is also cleaner, I don’t have to worry about slugs. Egg shells work well for slug prevention, but I didn’t use enough of them at the community garden. Next year I think I might use diatomaceous earth instead of egg shells. I think this will get better coverage than the egg shells.
We also have a sweet potato growing in a bushel basket. We started our own slips in early spring, and it actually worked. (Not bad for beginner gardeners). I had an extra slip and decided to try growing some sweet potatoes on our patio.I got the bushel basket idea from this post. It seems to be doing well, but we won’t know for sure until we harvest. (Edit – the harvest was disappointing. I don’t think our sweet potato plant received enough sun on our east facing patio).
We just added some new cedar square foot planters recently, but that is a post for another day. The plan is to have some broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage growing on the patio. I am very excited.
So if you don’t have a big yard but you have a sunny patio, I hope this post inspires you to try growing some food. It’s not too late to start a fall garden, especially radishes. They can be harvested in a few short weeks. 😉
Have you tried a patio garden? What grew well? What did not grow very well?