Fresh veggies are in. Look around. It seems like everyone everywhere is growing some sort of veggie garden this year. I dream of a giant garden, with rows upon rows of flourishing vegetables and herbs. In my mind, I’m a superior gardener with acres of land waiting to be cultivated into growing prize winning produce. In reality, I have a deck with limited space and I still have to ask Jason what to do when my tomatoes get spots on them. Good thing I work at Parks, so I can get tips from the best in the business and share them all with you.
So, how do you have lots of fresh veggies and herbs when the only land you own is a patio or deck? You accessorize….with containers. Container gardening is all the rage this year. You get all the great produce you want without moving to the country or buying a tractor. And smaller ground space means less weeds, less bugs, and if the sun is being super elusive on any given day, you can just pick up your container and move it to a sunnier spot. Try that with a regular old garden. Here’s the scoop on starting your very own container veggie garden.
Project Time: Who can put a time limit on decorating?
Experience Level: Beginner Gardener
Tools Needed: No Special Tools Required, but if you want to look the part, you can grab some garden gloves and a floppy hat.
Materials Needed: An assortment of containers in various sizes. Potting Soil, store bought. Fertilizer, your choice, just make sure it’s veggie friendly.
Sweat Factor: Moderate – You might want to keep a water bottle close by just in case.
Satisfaction Meter: Oo la la – It’s Salad Time Baby!
How to Accessorize with Veggies and Herbs:
1. Go Shopping. You are looking for veggies and herbs. Some tried and true easy to grow veggies you might want to consider are cucumbers, peas, peppers, eggplant, summer or zucchini squash, patio tomatoes or even the garden variety of tomatoes (tho you will need a larger container and stake for these). You can purchase any herb you like, they all grow great in containers.
2. Keep Shopping. You need containers for all of your newly purchased plants. Containers for veggies need to be at least 12” tall by 12” wide. The larger the veggie grows, the larger the pot you will need. And remember larger varieties of tomatoes will not only require a larger container, they will also need some sort of stake or wire cage to tie the tomatoes up as they grow. 5 Gallon Buckets work well for this and I’ve seen them in a variety of colors this year at the local stores so you won’t have to give up beauty just to harvest tomatoes. Herbs can be grown in smaller pots or window boxes. Just make sure the container you purchase is slightly larger than the pot the herb is sold in. Double check all the containers you purchase for drainage holes. Poor drainage can lead to root rot and ruin your container garden. If the containers you like best don’t have drainage holes, drill some before you plant. Word to the wise, terracotta containers will soak up all the moisture from your plant. If you choose a terracotta container, put a plastic tray under it and water the tray instead of the plant. The plant will draw up the moisture it needs.
3. Stay in the store just a few minutes longer. Now you need fertilizer and potting soil. Potting Soil is important for container gardening. Regular old fashioned dirt from your yard might look tempting, but when you put it in a pot it can clump, resulting in poor drainage. And you run the risk of importing weeds into your brand new container. The better the potting soil, the better your vegetables will produce. Some potting soil already has fertilizer mixed in, but it’s a good idea to purchase a separate fertilizer to add to your containers every few weeks to keep your vegetable in mass production mode. You can also opt for a time released fertilizer like Osmocote.
4. Plant to your heart’s content. One plant per container please. And position your containers where they get at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. Veggies and Herbs are full sun plants. Don’t forget, you can move your container as needed to get more sun during the day.
5. Water your new plants. Vegetables need lots of water. Remember when you’re watering, you’re aiming for moist not soggy. In the heat of summer, you may have to water your veggies and herbs twice a day if the soil begins to dry out too quickly during the course of the day. Use Ron’s 2nd knuckle rule. Stick your finger down into your container to your second knuckle. If you pull your finger out and it’s dry with no soil, you need to water.
And just like that, you have a veggie and herb garden that doubles as patio/deck accessories.
Bonus Tip: Remember when I said I had to ask Jason when my tomatoes get spots on them? Well should your tomato plants get black spots on the bottom, add a little lime to your soil. This is usually blossom end rot and the lime will clear it right up for you.