Ingredients

Containers

The plants can be grown in almost any container as long as it has proper drainage at the bottom to release excess water. You may want to avoid black and dark colored containers because they absorb so much heat that they would dry out the root area more quickly. For larger plants such as tomatoes and squash use larger pots and for smaller plants such as herbs you can use smaller pots.

Soil

Instead of using regular soil peat mixes containing peat and vermiculite are much better. Not only are they relatively sterile and pH adjusted, but they also allow the plants to retain water better. As with any garden, mixing in one part compost to two parts planting mix will yield better crops and larger yields.

Also, using a slow release organic fertilizer at planting will keep your vegetables fed for the whole season.

What To Plant

On my patio I have grown zucchini, beans, peppers, basil and my favorite tomatoes.

You might think that zucchini is unusual for a container but it works fine. You can pick the zucchini early when the pieces are about two thumb lengths long - two inches. You can also eat the flowers, a delicacy that can be breaded and fried.

Beans can be either the bush or the climbing variety. If they are the climbing you will need a trellis or something else for them to climb. Peppers are perfect for patio gardening and will also provide you with flowers. You will harvest at least six and as many as a dozen peppers for each plant.

Basil is the best and favorite herb for containers. It is right outside your kitchen and can also make a beautiful and fragrant bouquet. Just snip off a few stems and place in a small vase filled with water to keep in your kitchen.

The best tomato plants are the cherry variety because they will come early and more often. Is there anything better than eating a cherry tomato that has been just picked? Not to me.

Plant Maintenance

Remember to maintain your plants just as you should when they are in a garden. This means proper weeding, pruning, watering, fertilizing and picking. It will not seem as difficult, however, since the plants will be more accessible and there will be fewer of them.

Directions

Even though I have a very large in-ground garden I still plant some vegetables in containers and grow them right outside my kitchen door on the patio. You can do the same on your patio, balcony or porch, and I especially recommend it if you do not have a regular type garden. Why?

First of all, there is absolutely no reason to deprive yourself of fresh vegetables just because you do not have the space or the time for a full in-ground garden. Surprisingly you can grow a large variety of vegetables in pots on your patio or anyplace that receives sunlight. If done properly, these vegetables will provide you with the same delicious and safe vegetables that any garden will.

Another reason is convenience. Instead of having to walk out into the yard area and sometimes get my shoes muddy, I just step onto the patio and pick some fresh basil, a few tomatoes and a few lettuce leaves when I need them. Let’s face it, we all tend to use the homegrown food more often if it is easier to get to.

Perhaps the most important reason is the same as any garden – you know how they are grown. If you are like me and want to avoid chemicals and pesticides, then growing your own is often the best and least expensive alternative.

Lastly, if you want to extend the season you can move some of the plants indoors as the weather gets colder. Some people I know even maintain a “kitchen herb garden” in pots all winter long. They just fit in with their other indoor plants and provide better seasoning than you can possibly buy in the winter months.

Patio Vegetable Gardening
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