We’re all stuck at home for the foreseeable future. And we’re trying to limit our grocery shopping outings. Right now is the perfect time to plan for your long game by planting a patio or container garden!
Plant a Patio Garden to Harvest Fresh Produce All Summer
Planting a small garden on your patio or balcony can help you to add more fresh herbs or veggies into your diet, while also reducing your spending on produce.
Just think about how much you’ll spend on tomatoes alone this summer!
Planting your garden in containers or raised beds makes things easier to manage. You can also control just how many plants you raise and how much space you take up with your fun stay-at-home project.
Get Set for Gardening Success
Before you go hog wild at the nursery, you’ll need to set yourself up for success.
- Scout your yard, patio or balcony for a sunny spot
- Measure the area
- Decide which plants you’re going to prioritize; look for easy care plants
- Choose your containers – long rectangles, big pots, hanging pots, raised bed
- Do a little research into your ideal plants to see what they like – sun/shade, soil type, best planting times for your climate zone
- Sketch out your ideal garden using graph paper to keep things neat and organized
It’s important to take these steps before you start actually planting things. It would be such a bummer to buy tomatoes and then realize that you’re not in the best set-up to grow them!
Another great tip is to keep your containers, whatever they might be, easy for you to access while also providing ample space for plants to grow. For square planters, stick to about 4’x4′ to keep all your plants within arms reach. Round or oval planters should err on the side of being bigger instead of a bunch of very small containers. This will give growing plants space to spout and help you avoid multiple repottings.
You can grab all your pots and containers on Amazon, along with your seeds. For living seedlings, best for herbs, broccoli and tomatoes, you’ll need to dash into the nearest gardening center or home improvement store.
While you’re there, pick up your soil. Lowe’s has a handy calculator to help you figure out how much soil you’ll need to buy.
Planting for Maximum Produce
No matter how much you love beans, if that’s all you’re planting you might end up getting sick of them before you finish your harvest.
Instead, diversify your garden with several types of plants. Before you buy, keep the actual space you have in mind. A giant pumpkin, for example, isn’t ideal for a teeny, tiny patio. They need lots of space to spread out – something you might not have.
Instead, try these plants for the space you have:
- Tomatoes: use stakes or tomato cages to keep everything under control
- Beans: grow on a trellis or fabric netting stretched vertically
- Greens, like lettuce, kale, Swiss chard
- Radishes: grow in a deeper pot for these root veggies
- Cucumbers: use cages, netting or stakes to help train these vines to take up the least space
- Squash: train these vine-y plants up or over on a trellis
To increase your harvest per square foot, you could follow the pairing method of planting or the square foot gardening method.
Farmers Almanac recommends planting crops of different heights with various harvest times but that have complementary soil, sun and nutrient needs. Some good partners are:
- tomatoes + basil
- peppers + basil
- corn + beans
- cucumber + peas
- radishes + leafy greens like lettuce and kale
Another high-yield planting plan is the square foot gardening method. Instead of planting in rows, this method uses 1’x1′ squares that are then divided up into smaller squares.
Different plants require different amounts of space. For example, one tomato plant can be planted in a square foot, but 16 carrot, radish or turnip plants can be planted in that same space.
Maintaining Your Crops
Now that you’re a gardener and your crops are planted, you’ll need to keep a watchful eye to ensure their growth and success.
Making sure that your plants are watered is the first step. Next is weeding out, well, weeds.
Pull plants that are unwanted, like dandelions and grass, from your gardening containers. Using the paired planting or square foot method helps you to see which plants are yours and which are “extra.”
Last, watch for bugs and pests. Tomatoes are prone to aphids and big green worms. You can use natural deterrents, like marigolds or strategic planting pairings, to avoid some of the problem. You may still need to physically remove pests or bugs. Treating your plants with a pesticide or all-natural spray is another way to keep them healthy.